This won’t be a story about how I left everything behind and travelled the world, this is a story how everyone can reach amazing destinations all around the world not leaving all the life behind!
Every surfer- a PRO or a beginner has a dream to surf Bali waves. Even though I am not a PRO and probably have surfed countable times there was a dream to visit Bali for this reason. I don’t know when the idea first came up, but I remember the day when the major push was made for it to happen. I was with my friend at groceries by the checkout and there was an add of the lottery where one could win a trip to Bali- I told to my friend “Wouldn’t it be great to win a trip, right?” and all of a sudden cashier- young man spoke to me “You will go there anyway, you don’t need to win a trip!”. That was the moment- right, if you want something don’t wait for a lottery- work for it. That’s when planning started- almost a year before the trip. I spoke to my friends and two girls joined. There was no question that we plan the trip ourselves and do not use offer of a tourism agency- this was actually one of the most exciting parts of the whole adventure- the planning! We felt it’s reasonable to visit more than one country if we have to cross continents, and since we had friends living in Cambodia we added it to our route, so all together it looked like this- Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia- Bali and back to Thailand.
I was mostly the one who did all the planning and what was left to my friends was to say Yes or No, and luckily they were OK with that. When the route was clear and we had figured out that it will take about four weeks to accomplish it – we bought plane tickets. We were told that four weeks are not enough, but well huh, we have jobs and limited vacations!
It was end of the April when we landed in Bangkok- early spring in Europe but end off the dry season in Asia. 40 million people city greeted us at its best- hot, humid and sticky air, streets full of locals selling cheap things and Food!!! Yes, if that was not the most important thing of the trip, then 2nd definitely. Asians know how to cook for sure! Eating became one of the most important parts of the day, OK to be honest sometimes our day consisted of moving from one food-spot to another, and mostly those were not fancy restaurants. Our table always was covered with all different kinds of food and we left the place moaning- why did I eat that much! If you love spicy- this is the place. Everything is made using fresh spices grown locally, and you can be ascertain about that when you eat street-food, because meal is cooked in front of you. Sometimes you have to sit by the big table with locals where poorly washed cutlery is provided, but don’t worry – chilly peppers make all the disinfection!
There isn’t actually much to say about Bangkok itself- you have to see it because for the European citizen it’s a whole new world, I must say amazing world but since Thailand has it’s bad reputation for being too touristic, Bangkok was only a pit stop before going to Cambodia. Hotel’s receptionist gave us a tip how to see Bangkok in one day, so we followed her advice and took a boat, then metro, afterwards came back by tuk tuk. Our favourite area was Khao San road- really busy but cosy area with street sellers, small food-spots and foot massages on every corner! If you are in Thailand it would be a crime to miss a massage even if you are not a fan of one- it’s really relaxing after a long day of walking!
On the next morning at 5AM we were already on the train heading to the border of Cambodia. Thank you Bangkok, we’ve seen enough of you – see you in few weeks on our return. Train was really rustic, with lots of locals selling food and stops in every 10 minutes, although five hours passed by really quickly, mostly because of the breath taking scenery around- small villages, rice fields and little kids on motorcycles waving to us. Going through customs was a little bit harsh- bureaucracy of buying visa and bribery, but well huh, we were warned- welcome to Cambodia!
Our first stop in Cambodia was Siem Reap village with it’s well known Angkor Wat temple complex which was built in early 12th century, forgotten and discovered once again in the mid- 19th century. Even though it’s really crowded with tourists this is a must see place. After spending few days in Cambodia’s mainland we were heading towards coastline- finally! We went by the night bus which is whole chapter worth, but this again is a thing you have to try yourself if you are adventurous and not scared of unexpected situations!
On the next morning we took a boat going from Sihanoukville to an island called Koh Rong (Monkey Island). When getting on a boat I could not imagine that further on randomly I will daydream of being back there- this island is an escape from daily routine! Actually it is an escape from everything! If after spending one week in Asia we were still in a little hurry of trying to see and do everything, then this was where it ended! A new chapter called Koh Rong! For the first time in my life seeing this breath taking island covered with palm trees, little wooden bungalows and translucent water around was like being in a fairy tale or in a bounty advertisement.
There are no roads on the island, constant electricity or sewage. There are few bungalows- beach bars with dormitories, few locals living on the island, but mostly what you see are vagabonds, wanderlusts and hippies- people, who are enjoying their time on the island, working in bars, offering boat trips or simply being happy – it’s really easy to make new friends here. Since the very first day we blended in perfectly- you don’t need shoes or clothes- just board shorts or swimming suit.
Finally I reached my dream of living in an actual tree-house 6m above the ground, with a hammock and sunrises through the window, or I must say through the hole in the bamboo wall! A regular day in Koh Rong consists of waking up around 5AM for the sunrise, walking along the beach with local dogs and taking a morning shower in the sea. Afterwards going for a breakfast to the most charming place called Paradise- as everything takes time on the island breakfast is not an exception- it lasts for at least two hours while planning your day with friends you’ve definitely made yesterday!
There are many options for day activities- you can teach local kids English language in the school volunteers have founded or go for the boat or kayak trips to the nearby islands, where some of them are still uninhabited. Must do is hiking through the jungle to see the sunset on the opposite side of the island, where the 7km beach is located. Probably this is the most stunning sunset I’ve ever seen in my life. At the end of the day go for the seafood barbecue served in the beach, where cats and puppies will eat all the leftovers afterwards.
One of the most amazing experiences was to swim in the sea full of glowing plankton- these little creatures glow in an absolute darkness whenever you splash the water. Giggling like a kid makes you to forget who you are; it’s just you and this absolute avatar fairy around you! I have no question why there are people stuck for years on the island- it’s really easy to get used to the life here, it’s like a tribe- it sucks you in!
Five days after we had to leave and one of the saddest moments of the trip was getting on the ferry and seeing island disappearing behind the horizon, but we were sure about one thing- one day we are coming back, Koh Rong!
Ok, you are wondering when do we get to Bali? Wait on; there are more adventures ahead I will tell you about next time!
Written by Aija Morica
Photo credit: Aija Morica & Līga Vaidere