Sunday, December 28, 2008

Into Ream National Park

The secluded gorgeous beach at Koh Sampouch
Two months ago I visited the south coast with my brother Tim and one of our trips whilst we were in the area was into the Ream National Park, an area of Cambodia I'd never visited. Joining us was a good friend of mine, Vy, who works at the Sokha Beach hotel in Sihanoukville, as we took a tuk-tuk from the town out to the National Park HQ near the airport to find out more and book ourselves a boat trip. We hired the boat, with a pilot (also called Vy) and guide (Heang), at the nearby Prek Toeuk Sap Ranger station and headed out past the mangrove forests that occupied both banks of the river just after 10am. Tim used to be a twitcher in his youth and pointed out white-bellied sea eagles, egrets and kingfishers amongst the birds we saw as we headed out past the mainland and Koh Thmei island, reaching the quiet and secluded Koh Sampouch beach in just under a couple of hours. The boat beached for a minute for us to jump off before heading back, whilst we took refuge from the scorching overhead mid-day sun in a small wooden open-sided hut where we ate our lunch, to the sound of waves lapping against the shore. A handful of other sun worshippers had also found this remote spot where the sand was white and soft and the setting idyllic. Small crabs scurried across the hot sand and a lizard scampered across the floor of the hut as we dipped our feet into the sea before a three kilometre hike through the tropical forest brought us to the fishing village of Thmor Thom, which also houses a dolphin-watching station. We watched the day's catch of fish being gutted before reuniting with our boat for the 2 hour ride back to the Ranger station and a return to Sihanoukville. We didn't see all that Ream National Park has to offer by any means - it has a mountain waterfall, more secluded beaches as well as a healthy population of wildlife including freshwater dolphins around the turn of the year - but we got a glimpse of this untouristed corner of the south coast before the expected developers move in and turn the coastline into a resort and hotel extravaganza.
3 beach bums: Myself, Vy and Tim at Koh Sampouch beach
Part of the day's catch at Thmor Thom village, ready for gutting
Friendly fishermen on the Prek Toeuk Sap river estuary



Blogger Sophat said...

Hi Andy,
I absolutely enjoy reading your posts of your trips in Cambodia. I am particularly interested in the coastal areas and wondered if you ever traveled to the outlying islands in Sihanoukville (Koh Rong/ Koh Rong Samloem/Koh Tang/Koh Wai) or the Koh Kong/Koh Sdach/Botum Sakor National park areas in Koh Kong province. I'd love to hear about that if you used to.


December 29, 2008 2:23 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Hi Sophat,
Thanks for your message.
I went to Koh Rong for a short trip in October of last year with my work colleagues and we spent some time on a beautiful beach there. We didn't explore the island though, which is slated for a massive development over the next few years. You can find some pics and stories in my Nov 2007 blog entries.
I haven't yet been to the other places you mention, including Koh Kong (which alongwith Pailin and Svay Rieng are the only places I have still to visit in Cambodia).
I was planning on going to Koh Sdach and Botum Sakor NP on my last trip but I didn't feel well at the end of my trip so I returned to PPenh a day or two earlier than expected. Sorry to disappoint you on those.
Keep reading as I expect to get out and about a lot more in the new year.
Regards, Andy

December 29, 2008 2:43 PM  
Blogger Sophat said...

Thanks for the info, Andy. I'll check out your archive.

Happy New Year!


December 29, 2008 2:48 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Same same re New Year.
My archive isn't as good as it should be as my original blogspot blog was hijacked and stolen by a computer hacker a while back and the techhy folks at House 32 had to reconstitute my old blog postings for my new blog site, which now sits under my own website. There's a few blips but they did a fab job for me when I was at a low ebb.

Up until this year I wasn't really into seaside locations. The reason being that I am a massive fan of old Khmer temples and there's very little in the way of 'prasat borann' at the seaside.
However I am a seaside lover (as opposed to a beach lover) so any excuse to be by the sea is welcome.
I have noticed that a lot of my recent posts have water in them, so to balance it out I had best get back up to Angkor and snap away at the temples!

December 29, 2008 2:58 PM  

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