15 July 2011

Ferry to Rabbit Island
Other Walk

An early start to catch our ferry to Rabbit Island.  The ferry turned out to be a small boat that sprayed water over everyone each time it hit a wave.  As the Island is on the South Coast of Cambodia, there were a few waves, and Anna & I got soaked.  This wasn’t too bad as it was a nice sunny day, and our biggest worry was being sunburnt.

The trip out to the Island took about half an hour with an engine slightly better than an egg beater.  However it was worth it.  On pulling up at the island, Rolling up our jeans, taking off our shoes and socks, we jumped off the boat into the water onto a stretch of beach that was almost pristine.  There was a row of coconut trees about five metres from the high tide mark, with rows of shacks arranged behind this.  These shacks ranged from the accommodation though to bars and restaurants.

We grabbed our bags from the boat and went for a walk to find where we would spend the night.  As we hadn’t booked, we walked along asking the prices for each place.  They were all set the same.  $4 for a basic room with a hammock hanging outside in various stages of disrepair.  $10 would get you electricity, and as we were only there for a night we didn’t even find out how much an en suite was.  However this was probably a bad idea, as the toilets left a lot to be desired, and the showers?  We were better off in the ocean.

Having found a shack, we dumped our gear and set off to explore the island.  This was a walk back along the beach to check out the facilities.  There were none.  A few places you could grab a bite to eat and a few more where you could wash it down afterwards.

Having explored the habitated section we set off around the rocks at the edge of the beach.  This wasnt too bad to start with, there was another beach just over that had nothing, a few trees, a lot of shells and sand beyond counting.  Nice, although it was too early to just waste the day lying on the beach we went on.  The jungle got thicker and the beach got less.

As we progressed around the beach we found that the tide was coming in, so we went further inland, trying to find tracks where there were none.  You would follow a path for 5 metres and find that it ended.  However we made our way around the first quarter of the island without incident.  Then we came across a lot of boats tied up, and one on shore.  This was when we found out that tourism was only a part of the story of Rabbit Island.  There were still traditional fishermen on the island.  Repairing their boats and nets away from the prying eyes of most normal tourists getting drunk and messing around on the other beach.  As we didn’t want to disturb anyone we cut around the few houses and made our way back to the shore (we had run out of beach).  Realising that there was now no way to walk only along the water we decided to cut inland a little.  Finding paths that ran under brambles and over logs was a bit of fun, however it was hard going with a lot of backtracking.  Having made it halfway up the main hill on the island we decided to go back to the water.  By this time I hope we were almost half way around the island.  We found a deserted house that could have been nice to squat if we had the time and equipment, but just sat there for a few minutes looking at the view.

Working our way back to the start we had a refreshing drink and continued around the other side of this island.  We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into!

It started off easily enough with a proper formed track through the jungle just off the waterline. This then split left into the island, but we wanted to find the perfect beach so we started rock hopping again.  There were less beaches over this side, and we had to follow the few tracks through the jungle.  After a while we found where the path led.  There was a village here of about five or six huts where the people supporting the tourists lived.  Moving on from there, we eventually found a seaweed farm.  A lot of fishing line strung out between posts with plastic bottles used for buoyancy.  It made an interesting sight.  Especially with the rickety jetty stretched out into the ocean.  After this we had to cut inland again and the trouble started.  Firstly were the vines.  These things could suck the skin off you faster than you can suck the sugar from lemon.  They were everywhere.  Then we found the ants.  As you tried to untangle yourself from the vines, the ants would swarm up over your shoes to declare war on your socks and shins.  These ants were packing some serious firepower for their size.  Honestly, stand still for ten seconds and you paid for it.

Hitting a swampy area we had the flying insects attack us in waves like dive bombers going for an unprotected town.  This was bad, but we pressed on.  Eventually we had to give up as we had made it most of the way around the island (we could see the strip of land that we had seen from the other side and that was good enough for us). This is where I made my mistake.  I took the wrong path.

As said before, most of these paths disappeared to nothing, and eventually we were bushwhacking our way through the jungle as even the path behind us had disappeared!  This is when even the trees turned against us and started producing barbs longer than my pointer finger and they grew on everything including the leaves.

Making our way though this was (CENSORED).  As the only thing to guide us was my imperfect sence of direction and the sun, which by this stage was getting fairly low.  When you could even see it though the insects, barbs and vines.  Somehow we skirted around the edge of the main hill and found our way back to familiar territory.  From there it was a skip, jump and long walk back to the tourist beach.


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