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Disconnecting at Bamboo Island in Cambodia

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If I told you about a place on an island with only maybe few dozen people around. Place with no TVs at all, no mobile coverage and no Internet. Place with barely enough electricity for lights after sunset until midnight. Place with absolutely nothing to do and no connections to the outside world. Would I be describing paradise or hell for you? *

We arrived on Bamboo Island after a boat ride than can easily be called rough. The boat being the standard small wooden boat used a lot in these parts was of course a lot lower than the meter waves it was navigating through. The water often being level with borders of the boat as the boat dived and banked before climbing back up again and again.

Especially worrying was the moment when one of the crew who was sitting at the front of the boat asked for a life jacket. There were a few looks going around the boat at that time, but he just placed it under his back and started to sleep. If he had actually put it on, I can bet that there would had been a scramble for the remaining life jackets in about two seconds, as there of course wasn’t enough for everyone.

We however arrived without an incident, except for the fact that we managed to pick up another boats anchor when we came ashore, but you know, those things happen. We jumped off from the boat into the water, as there are no piers or anything on the island, trying to keep the little luggage we had with us dry. Glad I didn’t bring my backpack with me.

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After looking around a bit on the shore, with nothing much in sight, we decided to follow the girl who was coming to work on the island, as she started hiking thru the jungle. After ten minutes we reached the other side of the island, which was good as it was starting to rain.

There was really only one building in sight, so we headed for that. Building might be a bit of an overstatement in this case though. There was a large round roof made of bamboo leafs on a raised wooden floor, but there weren’t any walls so to speak off, just some railings and some plastic covers to fend of the rain and wind. On one side of the building behind the bar counter, there was an attached shack, which later turned out to be the kitchen.

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The building in question did turn out to be the restaurant/bar/reception we had been looking for, so we opted for our own bungalow for 10 dollars, as it was only a few dollars more than staying the dorm bungalow.

After that, there really wasn’t much to do. It was raining so we set camp on the floor of the restaurant/bar/hanging area. There was only handful of stools at the bar counter, besides those there were just low tables and cushions. So the atmosphere was pretty relaxed with everyone chilling on the floor.

The only reason you have any idea of what time it is, is because the kitchen closes after lunch and then closes again after dinner at 9 pm. You don’t want to miss your dinner from the only restaurant around that doesn’t require an hour boat ride to get to.

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And suddenly the days just pass without you realizing how. Days pretty much consisting of waking up, sleeping, lying in the sun, swimming, eating, reading, playing cards, talking, drinking and going to bed – and not necessarily in that order.

It gets really dark after sunset, with only a few lights around; and after midnight, you’ll be drinking in candle light. And you better hope you brought along a torch, if you want to find your bungalow in the dark or go the toilet. You don’t want to leave your torch to the mainland and then having to rely on your iPhone as your only source of light in the absolute darkness. You can trust me on this one.

The darkness is also quite nice, because after midnight there really aren’t any lights on the island, so you can go out and look at the stars as much as you want, providing it isn’t cloudy or stormy.

There is a saying on the island, “Just one more day”, and that is the policy the inhabitants seem to be taking. Just one more day, after that we’ll go; and that’s what happened to us. After a while we however decided that yes we do need to go now, we’ve now spent almost two weeks in total doing nothing, not all of that in Bamboo island thou. You can easily stay in Sihanoukville doing nothing, which is the closest city to the Bamboo island in Cambodia.

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The good thing about staying in Sihanoukville is that there is quite a good nightlife, if that is what you are looking for, and a lot more restaurants to choose from. It really is the only beach resort area in Cambodia. But if you want to totally disconnect and relax, then heading off to one of the islands is the better option.

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*Alright, I might have been exaggerating a little. There is mobile coverage on the island, but it doesn’t seem to work for foreign mobiles, only locals seemed to have coverage. And there is an Internet dongle in the bar you can use. So yes, you can have some kind of access to the outside world if you want to, but why would you? Still, I was truthful about not having any TVs on the island.

6 Comments

  1. 2 weeks is the perfect amount of time to spend doing nothing.

    • It is indeed… I think I need to do that again soon :)

  2. It has been 10 years since I visited Sihanoukville, they were building then! Looking at your photos they look like the same buildings!

    Love the blog, regards
    Si
    Si @thedepartureboard.com recently posted..Top 5 Best Travel Videos for August 2011My Profile

    • Yeah the construction sites all look like they are progressing really slowly, if at all :) Probably be another ten years before they are ready!

  3. i stayed in that very same bungalow for a week in february of this year, the one next to the creek-ish thing right? pic: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=564850714273&l=8050aa79dd i had rats coming in and out the windows most of the week, so the bungalow itself wasn’t terribly relaxing for me but the view was key. hammocks were in pretty awful shape when i was there too, but it looks like they replaced one of them. regardless, the accommodation wasn’t what brought me to bamboo island, it was the solitude and scenery. i went my first three days without speaking a word to anyone. i can’t remember another time in my life when i’ve been able to say that. the cheap jaeger shots got me talking soon enough though.