The first stop was Siem Reap, my third time in the popular tourist destination. There I met L, G, and J, who flew in from Ilo-ilo. It was G and J's first time to visit Siem Reap, therefore, a temple run was in order. The thrill of seeing the Angkor Wat complex never ceases despite repeated viewings.
We then traveled to Phnom Penh where we met FuchsiaBoy and R. The Ilonggo mafia only got bigger, di bala? (Fortunately, I understand Ilonggo!)
It's always exciting for me to visit a city for the first time. I didn't read beforehand on its must-sees, confident that FuchsiaBoy would show us around. Indeed, he brought us to some great restaurants in the city.
As for sight-seeing, I was gobsmacked by the scale of the Central Market. I especially love its grand curves and sharp angles.
For a bit of history, we paid a visit to the Choeung Ek Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Prison. Both places left lasting traumas to Khmer society no thanks to the horrific rule of the Khmer Rouge. There was a heavy energy in these sites, of course; but still they are worth a visit.
The pack then went to Koh Rong, an island off the coast of Sihanoukville.
I've seen quite a few beaches in my life but nothing is as stunning as Koh Rong. From our guest house, we had to trek through a hill (or what felt like a mountain to me) for an hour. All my exhaustion went away when I first laid eyes on the clear blue water of Long Beach. Its sand was perfectly powdery white, almost blinding in the midday sun.
Long Beach has yet to see its share of infrastructure for tourists, and I hope it stays that way. It was simply kilometers of empty beach. Perfection, isn't it?
We lay on the grass, under the shade of a pine tree and did nothing but soak in the serenity of the beach. We also swam in the warm water, blissfully rocked by the gentle waves. Watching the sun set was the perfect ending to our day.
We ended up going back Long Beach to do more lounging on the beach and swimming. We simply couldn't get enough of the place.
On the side of the island where the accommodations are located, we stayed in huts just a few steps from the beach. Electricity was cut off at midnight. We were lulled by the sound of the waves lapping on the shore. And then we woke up to the cool sea breeze.
Here's hoping that Koh Rong is left undisturbed for years to come.
Guysh, guysh, thanks for the lovely time in Cambodia. Special thanks to L and R for making the trip possible. I had a blast and will treasure the memories from that trip. Until the next reunion...