An ideal or Idyllic place or state. (noun)
I found my paradise. Have you found yours?
Lets play a game. What comes to mind?
Think South East Asia: Temples. Rainforests. Islands. Food. Beaches. (STOP).
GO: “Beaches” - Desert islands. Bamboo huts. Boats. Jungle. Sunsets. Food…
As I mentioned before, I arrived in Sihanoukville in search of something more than body shots and skinny dipping; in search of a place where perfection blew through palm trees in the breeze. Did it exist? I didn’t know.
It does. I found it. I found it on a big blue poster. A quick little Google, a phonecall made I was whisked away in a tuk-tuk.
A stunningly unpopulated island called Koh Ta Kiev just off the coast of Otres Beach. 28 square kilometres of heaven with a floating village, Vietnamese mountains that the sun climbed over each morning and a brand new hostel, freshly built that week (toilets still in progress.)
The Last Point hostel is an absolute gem. It’s the only way to describe it – there are a couple of other places on the other side of Ta Kiev (Ten 103, Coral Beach, Crusoe Island) but I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect 3 days, isolated and at peace.
Now I have to note that the trip was fantastic not only because of the place, but the experience given to us by the couple that ran The Last Point – Noel & Gilly. They were welcoming and generous. They made it their job to get to know their guests and to truly give them memories and adventure.
So to the beginning. I was collected by my little tuk-tuk and taken straight to Otres Beach, where we waited for 20 minutes (Cambodian time) while they bought the boat around.
Now I am not a boat person. I haven’t spent much time out to sea. I’m more of a floater than a long distance/speed swimmer. Consider this: my entire life possessions were planted on a damp floor by my feet. The skippers were constantly scooping water with a bucket from a hole in the floor, chucking overboard to make a wavy and unnerving ride. Throw in a girl who runs up and down the boat without a care in the world, not even as we tip further into the water, and we get terrified. (But thrilled at the same time).
All in a journey.
We arrived on ‘Naked Beach’, known not for it’s nudists but the complete lack of anything man made. Noel, Gilly and Jakob collected us and we walked five minutes through the jungle to our new home.
Granted, we had arrived in the latter stages of preparation. The toilets were being finished, walls were being nailed into the showers. The generator was temperamental and the pizza oven was heavenly.
The dorms had 3 walls and a ceiling. Out to the front was an open space where, from the comfort of your mattress and mosquito net, you could watch the sun rise over Vietnamese mountains.
The bar was freshly stocked with the basics – namely absinthe. And it was very, very welcoming to table dancers and singing.
The beach was stunning, even though we had arrived after a storm and half of Cambodia had washed up on the shores. A bench swing hung from a tree, overlooking the sea – it became my comfort spot for the days, mornings and evenings.
On our first evening, after dumping our stuff and getting to know our hosts we hopped into the boat over to the little Cambodian fishing village on stilts to see baby sharks and freshly caught fish. It just so happened to be ‘Karaoke night’, and we were treated to a show of several little men singing passionately in a language we had no idea about. We broke a few slats on the precarious bridge because – simply, we aren’t Cambodian sized people.
Happily we went, ready to hop back into the boat and make our way home. But the captain sat there, shaking his head. Nope, they weren’t going anywhere. A storm was coming, and they couldn’t swim. (Faith restored in boat safety).
So walk through the jungle it was – easy we thought. 20 minutes Noel said. Then we remembered he had specifically told us ‘oh, you wont need shoes.’ So barefoot walk through the jungle. Fine. We can deal with that, surely.
Walking away, 20 minutes comes and passes. There are some of the most deadly snakes in the world in this jungle. And spiders. Oh he tells us tales of those who died in there. Fantastic.
Through a swamp we go, knee high in filthy creepy swamp waters. (Barefoot of course.)
Oh look, its getting darker. Creepily darker. How much longer?
“Probably another 10 minutes?” he says.
About 40 minutes later, seconds before the thick black night falls, we find the bar. THANK GOD.
|Tied to a tree, a bin bag full of old army rations, some open, some unopened. Purposefully tied, and yet we know not by who?|
|Walking the plank…|
Breaking the plank...
|Underneath were baby sharks. Literally, baby SHARKS.|
The next day was perfection, sunrise, sunbathing, an early morning swim. A walk across the island to Ten 103 to see how the other half lived, before walking straight back to our own little paradise, grateful and in love. The sun set across the Cambodian waters as we swam on naked beach, drinking beer and listening the music. Pizzas, absinthe and dancing on the bar. Sleep, before another morning of Vietnamese mountains and swaying hammocks.
This is only a snippet of what I found on Koh Ta Kiev. Had I not had plans to be elsewhere so soon, I wouldn’t have left. I 100% intend on returning one day, to see what Gilly and Noel have made of this place. There is so much potential, and yet to see it so untouched and raw was a blessing. It isn’t often that you find a single place where peace, beauty, nature and laughter come together as one. For me, this was it.