Island Life | Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia

We woke up the next morning ready for our next destination, Koh Rong Sanloem, the island life. To get from Kampot to Koh Rong Sanloem, there is quite the mixture of transportation modes. We knew we didn’t want to waste a day traveling, and after a small amount of research we knew we wanted a goal of the 11:30 am ferry. In order for that to happen, we had to leave Kampot by local bus at 7am and make the 3 hour journey to a town called Sihanoukville.

Getting There and ATMs

local bus

Ferry times from Sihanoukville to the Cambodian islands, Koh Rong Samloem and Koh Rong are limited, running between 8am and approximately 4 p.m. We didn’t want to count solely on the last ferry at and risking getting stuck in Sihanoukville. (rumor is there might be a later ferry, but in April 2019 the last ferry was at 4pm)

Everything worked out in our favor, though I’m still not sure exactly how we managed. You see, we went from a local bus to ANOTHER bus, then had to walk down a hill/road to arrive at the ferry dock. Why? It’s still a mystery to me, but it all worked out. It did provide us with several opportunities to get to an ATM, which are located along that main road.

THIS IS A MUST, because the islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem are cash only with ZERO, NILCH, NADA ATMs located on them. Oh, did I also forget to mention that much of the island of Koh Rong Sanloem is cellular data limited. This means, you’ll be disconnecting from everything for a few days!

While in Phnom Penh, we had decided in advanced to stay at the Mad Monkey hostel on Koh Rong Sanloem. Mad Monkey KRS is located on a private beach only accessible by long boat. They have courtesy pick-up and drop-off at Saracen Beach at select time. They partner with ferry company, Speed Ferry, so those select times are in correlation to Speed Ferry. We managed to take the 11:30 a.m. boat as planned and arrived at Saracen Beach about an hour later. It was a pretty simple ferry ride and the Mad Monkey long boat was waiting for our arrival.

Mad Monkey KRS

Mad Monkey KRS is a large hostel located on a private beach/cove with several options for small to big dorms. There are several options from hillside view dorms, private ensuite beachfront villas, and sea view dorms from 4-12 beds.

We pre-booked our accommodations via the Mad Monkey’s website directly and received a 10% discount. None of us really knew the set up a head of time, so initially booked the 6-bed mixed dorm room. After arriving and noticing the large 12-bed dorms open air, beach front location, we requested to move dorms on our second night.

Each bed comes with their own mosquito net, as bugs are ruthless here (NOTE: BRING BUG SPRAY AND LOTS OF IT). There is a lock box for each bed and plenty of space for luggage. I never felt like I was walking on top of my dorm-mates.

Mad Monkey has a large common-dining-bar area with a beautiful view of the bay. This area is where most of the action happens. There were even bean bags available for some light reading or sun bathing.

MMKRS dock

Mad Monkey is a cashless property, which means keep your money in the room. During my visit in March, they were in the process of making the switch from paper tabs to an electronic tab system. Upon arrival, you will get a bracelet that will be used to track your room cost and purchase food, trips, and beverages. When you check out to leave, you will get a final bill. Again, make sure you bring enough cash to cover all possibilities for the amount of time you stay.

fire dancers

Mad Monkey offers a variety of events and excursions. Several days have nightly themes like “pizza night” with their stone oven. Some nights have shows like fire dancing on the beach. During the day, there is an option for a $10 boating/fishing excursion, which takes you on a 4 hour long boat adventure.

This adventure includes friends, music, drinks, snorkeling, and learning how to fish using the traditional Cambodian method. I HIGHLY recommend adding this to your list because it was such a great time. Even though, I was awful at the fishing part.

Everyday between the hours of 3-6 p.m. is happy hour on the pier. This is a large wooden area in the middle of the bay with a large bar and covered area, a swing and rope swing, plenty of bean bags, and platforms to jump off.

Basically, this hostel has everything you could ask for while enjoying the Island Life. My friends and I participated in basically everything, but because it was service-limited and Wi-Fi free, I rarely had my cell phone. Meaning, I took little to no photos during my 4 days at Mad Monkey. Oops.

(I need to check out my footage from my GoPro since I have no idea what I actually captured)

A Little Something Extra

To me, Island Life means one thing…Scuba Diving. I hadn’t heard much about the diving in Cambodia. I was itching to get back into the water as at this point, it had been close to 8 months since my last dive. I was going crazy not being in the water.

After googling and surfing trip advisor, I settled on a company in Mpai Bay, another bay on Koh Rong Samloem. They did not offer pick up from Mad Monkey, but they did offer it from Saracen Bay. At the time of booking, I did not realize that Mad Monkey partners with a dive shop in Koh Rong which included pick up. Hindsight. I wish I would have used this other company strictly for the convenience.

The company I used for was a decent shop with good equipment and my particular dive master was amazing, but customer service was a bit “eh”. The dives themselves were nothing special and I was told that visibility was always very poor in Cambodia’s waters. I wish I would have known this prior to diving, as I probably would have saved my money. I did see an octopus on the second dive so BONUS, but in the process, I did lose my dive master because of visibility.

Regardless of the poor visibility and “eh” customer service, I still thoroughly enjoyed being back underwater. It always gives me such a peaceful mind and spirit. I still wouldn’t recommend diving in Cambodia (especially after diving the Thai Islands), but if it’s your only opportunity while in S.E. Asia, then go for it!

Four days came and went very quickly and I really wish I could have stayed longer, but it was time to continue on my solo backpacking adventure. I left the boys and many friends on the island and ventured back to Phnom Penh to catch my next flight. Stay tuned to find out where…

Two Friends in Thailand | Phi Phi Islands

Today was one of those days where we had no plans on what we wanted to do. I had a semi-rough idea of what we could do, but I didn’t want to set anything in stone, unti I was with Chris.

Together, after a few options were discussed, we decided on another boat day. Except, instead of a sunset cruise, we decided on a sunrise speed boat tour to the Phi Phi Islands. The particular tour we decided on was called The Beach Sea Trips. I’m pretty sure we found at the stand where we rented our motor scooters.

The Phi Phi Islands are kind of a MUST SEE when you come to the west coast of Thailand. They are what most people think of when they think of Thailand. I’m not going to lie when I say, I was really excited about this particular trip! It would be the furthest south I’ve ever been (at this point in time).

As this trip was a sunrise boat trip, it meant another super early morning after a late night. (Remember I was bitten by a monkey and was at the hospital till well close to, maybe even after midnight). Thankfully, Chris is a morning bird and had enough time before our pick up arrived to get us some coffee! (Coffee is a wonderful thing).

The driver drove us to the starting point of the tour at a marina a decent 40-minute drive away. Thankfully, once we arrived and checked in, the company provided breakfast. During breakfast, they went over the itinerary and the safety features, so no significant time was spent on the boat! Always a good perk to a sunrise not trip!

sunrise over the sea

To say we were ready to board the boat is an understatement. I was just tired of standing around and listening to people talk. I wanted to be back on the water in a speed boat, jetting off towards the sun. Don’t get me wrong, I love Thailand, I’ve majorly missed the boat life from the Caribbean.

Koh Phi Phi Ley and Maya Bay Beach

I was so happy when we left the marina and sped off into the sun. We paused for a short while to capture sunrise photos before heading towards the first stop of the day, Maya Bay.

Something you should know. Maya Bay is indefinitely closed after succumbing to over-tourism. Thailand’s government decided that, to bring it back to its beauty, it needs to remain tourist-free. Why the over-tourism? Maya Bay was made famous by the 2000 movie, “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. It quickly rose to fame as a Thailand island hotspot. Now, you can only witness this beautiful beach from a distance.

After a few minutes, we headed to our next location, Loh Sama Bay. Literally, on the backside of the Koh Phi Phi Ley where Maya Bay is located. This time, we were FINALLY able to jump into the beyond crystal turquoise blue water! That wasn’t all, located in this little reef area behind Maya Beach, were cute and tiny baby reef sharks 🙂

We stayed in this spot for about 30ish minutes. When we were ready to take off, Chris happened to be quite far from the boat and struggling to get back to the boat due to a current. According to Chris, swimming is not his thing. Makes for a great story though!!

The next location on this boat trip turned into an ultimate fail. Apparently, the tide doesn’t always work in favor of the boat. On this particular day, the tide at Pileh Lagoon was just that. The entrance was too shallow for the boat. Even with the motors practically out of the water, the boat was unable to pass over the sand bar. It would have been a great spot for more swimming, but it was just in the plans.

Thankfully, it’s not like this was the end of the boat trip. We had barely just begun. With little hesitation, we continued on our way with a just slow enough to see it, drive by, of a place called Viking Cave.

Monkey Beach

I wish I could tell you more about Viking Cave, but I just don’t have any answers. I was more curious about this Monkey Beach and Monkey Cliff I kept hearing our tour guide mentioning.

Did you read about yesterdays mishap with a monkey? Can you now understand my curiosity? A Monkey Beach with a monkey cliff?

It was pretty much exactly what it sounds like; a beach of monkeys and a cliff of monkeys. It was pretty entertaining watching these monkeys JUMP off the cliff and into the sea, then back up the ropes. It was slightly touristy, and boats were feeding the monkeys bananas. I know it’s not ethical and it does cause monkeys to become aggressive, but I still enjoyed it.

After a few entertaining jumps from the monkeys and soaking up the beautiful island cliffs, we continued to our next location; a beachside restaurant for our lunch. This restaurant is a part of a beach resort located on Laemtong Beach. That’s honestly all I remember. Well, that and that the food was delicious!

Koh Phi Phi Don

After lunch, we headed to Long Beach, located on Koh Phi Phi Don. I’ll explain this to you quickly. Koh Phi Phi Ley is the smaller of the two islands, and Koh Phi Phi Don is the larger island. Okay, let’s continue.

Long Beach is located on the southeast corner of Koh Phi Phi Don, between several resorts. This is where Chris finally got his “James Bond” long boat moment. There were several long boats anchored on the beach right next to each other and was a perfect location for his moment.

Chris and I, being the crazy, non-stop movers we are, decided to grab a beer and take a walk down the beach. It turned into a climb over a rocky corner, down a smaller beach, and over another rocky corner. It was at this point that we noticed the “Viking” sign. Come to find out, this is the location of the Viking Resort, but I did not know that at the time.

It was here where we had a mini-photoshoot on the rocky corner with the picturesque Thailand background, long boats included. I struggled slightly with the rocky shore and may have slipped a couple of times. I never fully fell in, but I had a few close calls.. Chris, being the amazing photographer that he is, captured it ALL on camera.

Bamboo Island

Next, we headed to Bamboo Island, a tiny island located just north of Koh Phi Phi Don. It is home to a beautiful white, sandy beach. Before we made anchor on our final beach of the day, we anchored off the coastline and did some more snorkeling.

This was a huge highlight for me, because…I SAW A ZEBRA SHARK. This was my first and as of now, my only time seeing a zebra shark. Talk about a random wildlife encounter! Chris even got to swim with the shark! Talk about memories in the making!

It was finally time to head to our final stop along our Phi Phi tour, Bamboo Beach. Chris, at this point, had one more item he wanted to check off his list. He wanted to drink a coconut on a beach. Thanks to our fellow boatmates, they gave us one of their coconuts, as they didn’t like it! You could say our boating day around the Phi Phi Islands have been an utter success!!

The best part was that our day didn’t end with the boat trip. When we returned to the marina, it was only about 3 pm. We were spent and knew we needed to rest before heading out on the town.

Our night was a pretty simple night. One thing we knew for certain was that we needed to complete our week in paradise with one final Thai massage. After all, Chris’s first experience wasn’t a true Thai massage. But this one was. There were moments during our massages, where the masseuses and myself were laughing because of the noises Chris was making.

I will say this, a Thai massage is nothing like the typical massage you might think of in America. It’s not relaxing AT ALL. I could totally understand where Chris was coming from, but it was still kind of funny. It wase the perfect end to our amazing week in Phuket.

We still have one half day left in Phuket before our flight the next day, so stay tuned for one final post on my time in Thailand with my good friend Chris!

Royal Caribbean Day 7: Day at Sea

Our final day on the Adventure of the Seas. After we set sail from Barbados, we knew it was going to be a long 36 hours aboard the ship, but we also knew it was going to be a good time with good friends.

As per usual, our day started with breakfast, but thankfully, it wasn’t as early as the past five days, so we were able to sleep in just a little. Darren and I knew there was ONE thing we had on our list for the day….POOL!

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Royal Caribbean Day 7: Day at Sea

Our final day on the Adventure of the Seas. After we set sail from Barbados, we knew it was going to be a long 36 hours aboard the ship, but we also knew it was going to be a good time with good friends.

As per usual, our day started with breakfast, but thankfully, it wasn’t as early as the past five days, so we were able to sleep in just a little. Darren and I knew there was ONE thing we had on our list for the day….POOL!

Read more

Royal Caribbean Day 6: Barbados

Day 6: Bridgetown, Barbados

Date: 26 April 2018
Port: Bridgetown, Barbados
Time on Island: 8am-4:30pm
Distance between St. Lucia to Barbados: 174.60 km or 94.28 nautical miles (5108.49 miles

Barbados, our final island and final port before our return to Puerto Rico…also the day I have been dreading. It means our Southern Caribbean Cruise is coming to an end. I know all travels and vacations come to an end but it’s been such an amazing past 5 day that I’m not ready for it to end. BUT…at the same time, I’m ready to explore another new island in the Caribbean!

Like many of the other islands, I didn’t know much about Barbados, except that there was a popular cave attraction. We weren’t totally sure if we wanted to include this in our day, but in the end we voted it would be something cool to see. Because of that, Darren and I decided on a half day tour, that included the cave, would be a good idea. It was tough for us to narrow down the exact tour we wanted, as many of them included the cave. Initially, we thought maybe a cave/rum tour would be fun, but ultimately, we chose a tour that showed a little more of Barbados.

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