Water and Wildlife, Koh Rong Samloem

Heading into the waves

On the Water

When the wind was up the waves came in with a force on Lazy Beach. Going out into the surf further than I could touch bottom scared me, and I didn't always feel like braving the pounding, especially by myself. Later in the week, after a hot day of zapping heat I worked up the nerve to join a bunch of Russian kids jumping in the washing machine waves and I was suddenly revitalized, laughing and playing alongside them. I stayed in there until sundown, getting pummelled with water and sand and smacked around, still ready for more.

Stormy waters

After days of taking turns postponing leaving with my German friend Rafael, the planned day of departure, Sunday, marked a change from the heat and sun, with a gloomy look reminiscent of the English moors – for me a welcome change. As much as I love being warm, I don't like intense sun, and this dull day felt like a total relief. The sky was light grey with darker grey clouds, the sea stormy and the air full of wind and rain. At times like this the landscape seemed charged with anticipation – entrancing to sit and stare out at, waiting for something to happen. It felt much more pleasant than the deceptively sweet calm sunny days when the light reflected diamond patterns clear through the water on to the sandy bottom, and the sunbeams cooked my head and body, sucking out all the energy in the time it took to walk down the beach and back. I was in no hurry to leave this lazy beach, despite the rain that was on its way.

Facing the wilds

On the Wildlife

At a distance I watched a family of country monkeys sit in a tree near the beach – so unlike their urban cousins that they didn't even try to steal or eat my clothes, sunglasses and binoculars when I went in for a swim.

Into the drink - Water Buffalo and companion

Closer up, I saw a big fat jungle rat trying to scramble its way out of the bathroom when I opened the door. I took a look around and found what it had been up to, besides crapping on the floor, was gnawing on my soap. Nice fancy natural soap that I had just got delivered from home, it was clearly appealing to a whole range of species. I had noticed the soap lid on the floor that morning, but I hadn't thought anything of it. The next morning the tightly closed soap dish was cracked and chewed but still sealed, lying on the floor surrounded by a pile of frustrated rat droppings. It made me wonder, how do you clean rat germs off soap?

Another pier, another beach, same island

Closer still, I learned the importance of shaking out my pants before putting them on in the jungle. I had grabbed my full-length nylon pants before dinner in what turned out to be an unwise method to avoid mosquito bites. I thought I felt something moving in my pocket and I shook out the pants with no results, but felt a skoosh of air up the middle when I sat back down. It seemed calm until a few minutes later when I felt something brushing my ankle. I saw dark tentacles sticking out and I jumped up, promptly getting rewarded with a nasty pinch up my calf. I danced around in the restaurant until a long brown centipede crawled off my pants and disappeared between the wooden floor planks below. After that I felt my calf burning and phantom things crawling in the folds of my pants all the way through dinner. Waves of burning heat instead of cool water, stimulating in their own way.

Late afternoon sun