Southeast Asia has many sublime, postcard beaches; but for my money, none so beautiful as Koh Rong Samloem. The smaller of the two major islands sitting just off the south west tip of Cambodia, Koh Rong Samloem boasts bone white beaches; undisturbed by parasols, sound systems and reprobates, the translucent waters of the Gulf of Thailand, bioluminescent plankton, divine sunsets, and a serenity that is the very antithesis of its shameless cousin on the coast of Sihanouksville.
We chose Samloem for just those reasons, and Sandy Beach Bungalows to further the solitude we required after leaving Sihanouksville, the Blackpool of Cambodia. Sandy Beach is a private cove on Samloem; accessible only by speedboat, ten straw huts on the sand, one ‘bar/restaurant’, one dog, and a whole bunch of multicoloured fish. The first drop off point for the boat from Sihanoukville, we felt the green monster at our back as we alighted on the long narrow deck that shoots out from the centre of the beach, the rest of the boat noticeably dejected at their sure to be inferior accommodation.
If you book this place and complain about being bored, well…you’re an idiot; this place does exactly what it says on the tin, nothing to do except soak up sun on an island paradise, play a little volleyball, drink some rum, bask under the thousands of stars that illuminate this dark spot at night time, eat and repeat…or so we thought.
All the guidebooks in the world can never equate to the benefits of human experience, and never have we reaped the rewards of this more so than our penultimate night on Koh Rong Samloem. We got to chatting with a lovely German girl at dinner, Miriam a solo travelling screenwriter, after saving our dreams of getting red wine drunk under the stars, with a corkscrew on her key ring she told us of magic in these oceans. Do you believe in magic?!
Past midnight; the moon cut like a sickle, thousands of iridescent points of light overhead, the three of us waded into the lukewarm Cambodian sea, as our eyes adjusted to the dark of the water, magic happened, bioluminescent plankton (to spoil the delusion of magic) awoke at our feet, where we disturbed the ocean an ethereal trail of purple glitter arose and trailed us like Disney footsteps. Dashing my hand into the water, the black was abolished by this ephemeral glow, where the waves began to swell they too were set to fire, crashing on the beach and exploding with a scintillant, blue neon glow.
We spent the rest of that evening in wonder, drinking our finally opened red wine and watching a violent lightning storm attack and wane over Cambodia’s southern most point on the Indochina peninsula. Just another day in paradise.
A sky full of stars and an ocean full of light, one night on Koh Rong Samloem. Just go.