So, as part of the tour I did in Kampot, we were taken via Tuk Tuk to Kep. First we stopped at Crab Market – the name is slightly deceiving as, for the most part, it is a fish market with tonnes of food stalls selling raw and barbecued fish/seafood, all of which looked so tasty. But what it is known for is the fresh crab section – right at the back along the water you can purchase your own fresh crab, right from the sea, and then have it cooked in front of you.
First they go out to sea to collect the wicker box that has caught crab from the open water, to bring it to shore and take out one kilo of live crab (which they weighed in front of me). Then the crab was taken to the cooking section, where my chef chopped the live crabs in half, put oil, garlic, spring onion and some tomato/chilli based sauce into his frying pan before adding the crab. The total cooking time was around 20 minutes and for $8.50 I had a kilo of fresh, beautifully cooked crab and a carton of rice for the biggest lunch of my life.
We then drove 15 minutes via Tuk Tuk to the pier to take a half hour boat across to Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island). It wasn’t particularly choppy at sea yet the boat still tipped quite suddenly, with a woman on board gasping loading every time it moved, making it not throat peaceful journey despite the amazing views. The boat stopped 5-10 meters from the shore so we clambered off and waded through the water for the last part. I was really glad I left my main bag at my hostel in Kampot and only brough an overnight backpack.
It was then about a 10 minute walk from where the boats dropped you off to get to he main beach and stretch of accommodation – by accommodation I mean approximately 4 different clusters of bungalows run by different families. The first one I came to charge $7 a night for one person in a double room bungalow so I kept on walking to explore a bit further and found a quadruple bungalow for $5 for one person – the balcony/decking offers views of the sea with my very own hammock, it had an ensuite toilet and shower, plus a mosquito night for at night. There were no fans – and this is the case for all accommodation on Koh Tonsay – so I settle myself in.
I spent the rest of the afternoon lazing on a sun lounger on the sand, watching the sun slowly set and easing myself into the remote nature of this place. There’s no wifi on the island (for guests, at least) and the electricity only runs from around 6 until 12pm, so you really are completely shut off from civilisation and it is a wonderful opportunity to slow down and take time out from the constant planning/researching/booking process of travelling. I should mention that it is pretty undeveloped and some parts can seem messy and dirty, especially as they are forced to store the rubbish behind the bungalow, but this is their way of life and it is part of the charm. Back to basics, as they say.
By the evening there were only about 10 of us left on the island; day-trippers had since left for the last boat back to Kep and only those staying overnight were remaining. Yet I still managed to meet some wonderful people – a Brazilian, a Dutch, two Swedish and one Italian – whom I went for dinner with at the end of the beach. Food was cheap, happy hour was on cocktails, and we were entertained by the Brazilian playing ukulele and the Italian playing flute, my favourite moment being a group rendition of Stand By Me as we were surrounded by stars and the sound of waves crashing nearby us.
At around 11pm we hobbled back to our bungalows, struggling with the lack of light (the electricity had been turned off so the island was literally pitch-black), using the glow from one phone to navigate 4 of us back. Once in my bungalow I opened the window for some air but struggled to sleep that night due to how thick and sticky it was, tossing and turning constantly. This is where my own portable fan would have been handy!
The following morning I checked out of my bungalow and spent a few hours lying on the beach and swimming in the sea, before treating myself to a Head and Shoulder massage by a Khmer woman for $7. There’s nothing like having your muscles de-knotted to the smell and sound of the ocean. Around 2pm I grabbed a bite to eat – delicious vegetable curry – before walking back to the pier for my return boat at 3pm. The clouds had started to appear and the water was extremely choppy on our way back that I literally – and I mean LITERALLY – got soaked through, I may as well have left my bikini on. They’re not exactly the steadiest boats around.
Once back on Kep land I was given a free Tuk Tuk ride to the tourist office near the crab market to book a $3 minivan back to Kampot for another couple of days (which I detailed in my previous post) before then making my way from Kampot to Koh Rong Samloem for another couple of days of remote-island bliss. Despite only spending just over 24 hours on Koh Tonsay, it really refreshed me and felt like proper time out from the craziness of travelling – I was therefore keen for some more of this on my next island adventure…