What do you do when you have a lot of free time on a deserted tropical island? You look for better beaches. Sure the one that’s right next to where you are is picture perfect but heck, why not look for something better? That’s what Nick, Hurve, and I decided to do one morning. We had heard of an even more deserted and more beautiful white sand beach on the other side of Koh Rong and we were determined to check it out. No jungle, barely marked path, or mountain was going to stop us.
The weather didn’t look as friendly as it usually did. Puffy gray clouds dominated the sky and an abnormally strong breeze knocked the palm fronds on the coconut tree around. Waves crashed angrily at the shore and retreated in white foam as we walked down a path that cut suddenly into the island.
Almost immediately we were surrounded by tall verdant green trees, like walking on to the set of a Predator movie (no, not the Alien vs. Predator crap, more like the first and most recent one). Nick chuckled as I said so reflecting and confirming my sentiment. You could almost hear the theme music begin to play and sense something at the periphery of your vision watching you.
The path wound upward through more and more jungle occasionally letting us out into tall grassy plains which gave a commanding view of the distant shoreline and Gulf of Thailand. It also gave a great view of the sky, which by this time was pretty unhappy.
It wasn’t the gray that brought rain, just the color that blocked out the sun and put a blanket of seriousness over everything. Our merry band might have been exuding cheer but everything around us was moving to a different tune.
White marks. They were supposed to guide us to our destination. Painted on tree trunks, on rocks, and occasionally on the path itself they were supposed to bring us safely to where we wanted to go. I had a good laugh at this. Traveling around Japan hiking on mountains and volcanoes had taught me that white marks were a cheap but not really good way to set a path apart from anything else. A few years ago scrambling up the side of the active volcano Mt. Aso I had had a run in with these white marks, rather lack of or obfuscated white marks…
So, in the tradition of the white mark paths we of course got lost. Luckily it didn’t take us too much time to get back on course and we had the help of another couple further down the path who shouted back some directions. Lo and behold as we retraced our steps we found the mark, hidden behind a branch verdant with leaves on a small wooden stump low to the ground and off to the side.
Remember how I said we moved upward through the jungle before? Now it was time to go down and the path didn’t feel like being gentle on us. In fact, it pretty much went straight down over sections of smooth rock weaving through boulders and vines. Locals who used this path much more often then us visitors had thoughtfully installed thick easy to grab ropes at key points making it slightly less hair-raising.
It still took us a while to go down and by the time we had finally arrived panting at the bottom sweat soaked us from head to toe. The thought of a dip in the cooler then tropical jungle air water drove us forward past some unoccupied bamboo bungalows and into a clearing.
What lay before us didn’t disappoint and made the whole trek worthwhile.
We were at the rocky edge of the beach. A beach which went as far as the eye could see to a small speck of a town in the distance and further. It was an empty beach, a deserted piece of off white sand, a place of solitude and we were the only ones there (including the other couple who were frolicking about 100 meters down). Not a single piece of trash sullied this innocent piece of earth. Through some working of currents and wind it had been saved from the negligence of mankind.
On this side of the island a new piece of information made itself known to us. From where we had come the clouds had been gray, here on this side they were black. Above the town maybe 6km away a curtain of water plodded slowly forward, forward being a direction we weren’t sure of. Was it towards us, away from us, parallel to us? Either way we didn’t care.
With a shout of joy we shucked our clothes and dove in. The water sent a cool refreshing jolt through me which quickly faded to a soothing warm. I was surrounded by clear aquamarine water, bordered by lush green trees interrupted only by jagged black rocks, and roofed in by foreboding gray, an interesting combination.
The three of us talked and talked about what I can’t clearly remember. I was too busy just enjoying myself. By the time we finally dragged ourselves from the heavenly body of water the black was almost upon us.
We moved up to a deserted bungalow and had a seat on some stiff wooden chairs. Letting the warm air which had turned slightly chill dry us we waited for the rain. We waited and waited yet nothing came. The black had veered off in another direction leaving us to be. Thus is island weather, a fickle ever changing thing.
The hike back was much easier. Going up the steep rock wall took only a fraction of effort than it did to go down it. The path from the top to town was a gentle slope all the way.
Nick stopped about halfway down, cupped some water from a stream in his hand and drank it. ‘Is that safe?’ I asked. ‘Yep. This is actually the water they use everywhere on the island. Minus a bit of filtering you’ve been drinking this for the last couple days,’ he said with a smile in his eyes. ‘Now that’s good to know,’ I replied laughing. Ignorance is bliss, or so they say.
‘This island experience is definitely going to be a tough one to beat,’ I said to myself as we continued on down. ‘Really tough.’