Koh Rong Samloem: there’s a rat in my tent…

Being self-confessed beach bums we were SO excited to explore Cambodia’s islands. Having had a taste of paradise on Otres beach we had high expectations for Koh Rong Samloem. We chose Koh Rong Samloem over it’s bigger sister island Koh Rong purely because we heard that it was the quieter and more “undiscovered” of the two (basically we’re just total bores…)

We booked 2 tickets to catch the slow boat. Paradise here we come!

The slow boat was indeed sloooooow. What they didn’t tell us about this boat was that it was also taking people on a day trip so we had to do 3 stops over 6 hours before we actually reached our destination. I was so done with travelling in those 6 hours. Especially with some poor child spending the duration of the journey puking his guts up. Yum! It was worth it though when we eventually arrived at Koh Rong Samloem.

We tried to book another beach bungalow but the place we were planning to stay had none left so we ended up booking a tent right on the beach. We thought it would be an experience. We went to our tent to find some guy who was high as a kite playing his guitar outside our tent. We asked him was this his tent and his response was, “yeah man, I just haven’t told them yet”. Riiiight. We would later regret going back to reception and getting allocated a different tent instead of kicking him out. The new tents zip was broken so it had to be held together with clothes pegs; and the whole thing looked like it might topple over at any minute…

Eco tent on Koh Rong Samloem
Our wonky “eco tent”

Days one & two were rather uneventful. This was basic island living. No WiFi! No sockets to charge anything. Solar power so the fan in the room would only work for a certain amount of time. There wasn’t much choice of restaurants or bars so we ended up eating & drinking in the same place every night (the not so Khmer Spag Bol was DELISH). I made a little kitty friend at the restaurant where we were staying which kept me very happy.

On day 3 we went on a little excursion through the jungle to get to Lazy Beach at the other side of the island. As beautiful as Saracen Bay was we wished we had known about Lazy Beach sooner. As you can guess, it was the place to be incredibly lazy!

I think I managed to have 3 naps in the space of approximately eight hours. One on the beach, one on a sofa in the restaurant and another in a hammock. All I could think was: this is the life. I did push myself to be ever so slightly active and did a bit of snorkelling (which was SO good – my favourite parrotfish were everywhere!)

Lazy Beach view
Lazy Beach view

So, after a pretty chilled 3 days we got ready for our final night in the tent. This is when it really became an “experience”. I had a thought as I was going to sleep that we’d had it too easy having no critters in our tent each night. The worst we had seen was a giant lizard hiding behind the mirror in our toilet (but I can totally deal with lizards. I think). Of course night number 3 had to be the eventful one.

I had just got over to sleep when Jonny jumped up shouting, “there’s something on me!!!!!” Without a thought I just bolted out of the tent sending the clothes pegs holding it together flying everywhere. I had no torch or phone and it was pitch black. We argued over who’s job it was to go back in the tent to get a light. Jonny blamed me for not lifting it amidst the drama and I argued that as the “gentleman” it was his duty to go in. All the while the “something” that had got in the tent was still scurrying around.

Eventually a kind neighbour came to the rescue with his torch. Jonny chanelled his inner Bear Grylls and in he went to investigate. I was praying it was the lizard but deep down I knew exactly what it was.

I held the torch while Jonny thrashed about with a broom and then I caught a glimpse of it. A long pink tail. Brown fur. Yep. It was a rat! 🐀

It disappeared of it’s own accord (with the assistance of Jonny thrashing a broom around). Jonny talked me into returning to the tent. I got in and refused to turn the light off (the light that was solar powered and kept flicking off…). It wasn’t long before I could hear something scurrying about right outside the tent. I was a mess. The tears started around 3am when I knew I wasn’t getting a wink of sleep. The rustling went on all night until I convinced Jonny to leave the tent with me. I felt much safer sitting on the patio a light on. My Kindle which had been on 20% battery at the beginning of the night kept getting lower and lower until we were at 1% at  4am. Amazingly it stayed alive until the bitter end to keep me company through the tears!

This was a completely traumatic experience for us. The only positive? I got to watch the most incredible sunrise!

Epic sunrise after a not so epic night...
Epic sunrise after a not so epic night…

When the sun was up we went back into the tent. I was just drifting off when I felt a little wet thing on my finger. I looked down and wouldn’t you know it was a rat POO! 💩 I had never been so happy to check out of a place in my life. We were due to get the slow boat back to Sihanoukville at 4pm but we very quickly changed to the first fast ferry out of there.

The bad luck continued when we arrived back to Sihanoukville to find it was a public holiday in Cambodia and everywhere was booked. Jonny was sent on a hostel hunt while I caught some z’s in some random bar!

I highly recommend a trip to Koh Rong Samloem but I most definitely do not recommend a stay in a tent that doesn’t zip!

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