Welcome To The Jungle
Again with too much delicious Cambodian beer consumed the night before I woke with a dry mouth and a throbbing headache. Clambering out of my mosquito net I stumbled across Lukas who didn’t make it to bed but instead slept outside on the balcony of the bungalow. Grabbing the closest bottle of water I quenched the morning cotton mouth! Lukas was also pleased when I woke him with a bottle of water! The only instant cure for this hangover was to simply jump into the free flowing river that we were lucky enough to have at our door step. I spent the next 30 minutes floating in an inflatable tire listening to the calls of the jungle birds. Leaving the river drift me where ever it liked, and with that washing away my hangover.
After my natural hangover cure it was time for a bucket shower. And for you that don’t have the lucky opportunity to experience this, you are not missing out. Basically there is a large vat of water and a small bucket with a handle. First of all you have to pluck up the courage and mentally prepare yourself for the cold water that you are about to willingly pour over yourself. Anyways I’ll save you the rest of the details but you get the point! However there was one thing to look forward to after the cold shower! Fresh French bread, fluffy scrambled eggs and hot coffee!!
We all gathered around the outside dining table where we sat slightly intoxicated only a few hours ago. Again we discussed the plans for the day and generally chatted. We decided on a trek through the jungle that is located at the rear of the resort. From there it would be a two hour trek through the Koh Kong jungle to a spectacular waterfall. Thomas suggested that we should kayak back to the resort from the waterfall. The three of us looked at each other and agreed, ‘and let’s pack some beer too’ But first it was time for a chill out and just spending a few hours relaxing in the hammock on the balcony.
Packing a few supplies such as water and sun cream into a bag we headed towards the back of the resort and Thomas showed us the boundary of his land and the protected national park. From here we started the steep climb up through the mighty jungle, precariously scanning the path ahead of every footstep. This was jungle territory and we are just visitors, snakes, spiders and other wild animals ruled this rugged terrain, we would have to steer clear of them and not the other way around!
The first ten minutes of the trek was all up hill and was kind of strenuous because I haven’t done any kind of exercise since I had left Ireland, this combined with over 30°C humid and sticky heat and you get the picture (I was sweating major balls) But it got better further on, the land flattened out and the path now turned into a nice leisurely walk. Being in the jungle you imagine that you will see all kinds of exotic animals and insects, however this is not the case. It is not that they are not there, they are just deep in the jungle and usually do not stay on the trekking path. You can however hear their various calls and sounds coming from the wilds off the path. While on our trek we came across several different species of spiders that had set up their webs in the line of the path we were taking. There were two or three occasions that Thomas, who was leading us, would get a spider web to the face but luckily there were no spiders there at the time.
While continuing on the path with relatively no problems, cue, another f*****g snake. Thomas who was leading us spotted it and quickly skipped ahead warning us of the snake that had just crossed the path. I was the next behind Thomas and I had to make the split second decision of whether to retreat back to Julius and Lukas, or quickly move forwards past the snake to relative safety. I chose the latter and quickly hopped past the snake, that I couldn’t see by the way, and we waited for Julius and Lukas to cross. The snake was a grey viper with black stripes around a metre long. This snake may be small but its bite was enough venom to kill an adult human in two hours. And to think that if someone had been unlucky enough to get bitten we still had an hour trek ahead of us to the waterfall, and then to try to get to a doctor in Koh Kong City, the odds wouldn’t have been in our favour!! Successfully guiding Julius and Lukas past the intense looking snake we continued on.
Like yesterday, the first indication of us getting closer to the waterfall was the sound of rushing water. When we emerged from the clearing we cast our sights out upon a vast area of chaotic rock with water rushing over and around and eventually cascading down the overhang into the pool below. We quickly made our way down to the water’s edge, stripped down and jumped into the revitalizing river. It didn’t take us long to find a safe area to jump off of into the water below. This satisfied the itch that we just couldn’t scratch at the waterfall yesterday. We started off with some harmless jumps and twists, then moving onto front-flips. And that’s where we should have stopped. The suggestion of a backflip should never have even been considered. Unfortunately my ego and confidence got the better of me. Standing on the edge of the rock with my back to the water I bent my knees and sprung off back towards to water. It seemed to be going well until I realised, mid-air, that I had over rotated the jump and my back was now going to take the full brunt of my mistake. With an almighty slap, my back hit the water and with that the air was knocked out of my lungs. I emerged from the water with a searing hot sensation on my back and gasping for air. Realising how stupid I probably looked, I decided to call it a day with the rock jumping.
We made our way over to the boat from Neptune Bungalows that had sailed over to join us whilst we were trekking through the jungle. It had brought with it the kayaks that we were going to use as our transport home. But it’s most precious cargo was the ice cold beers stowed away in a cooler box. We sat chatting on the rocks for a while enjoying the last few warm rays of sun with a cool beer in our hands.
With the sun setting on our backs we took to the kayaks, we had an hour paddle through the meandering river that was hugged by this immense green mangrove forest. Paddling through a river completely isolated as the sun is going down is one of the most peaceful experiences I’ve ever experienced. Besides the occasional moan from Lukas who was getting tired of all the paddling. As Julius paddled ahead of us it was just a matter of time before we broke out with a rendition of ‘Hey Jude’ by The Beatles, it had clearly been too long since we had been in Heartbreak (which I will talk about in a future blog post) Rounding the last corner we stopped paddling, opened our final beer and let the river drift us towards the pier of Neptune.
After the trek and the paddle we had worked up quite an appetite, and once again we were not disappointed! Tasty fried noodles with vegetables and chicken satisfied our cravings and almost induced a food coma. However we fought it off and settled down in the comfortable plastic chairs around the campfire to enjoy our last night, of course with a few cold ones.
The weekend was one that I was looking forward to immensely and it did not disappoint one bit! There is not one thing that I would change about the weekend. It really was an adventure that included both heart pounding, adrenaline filled moments but also some of the most beautiful and picturesque surrounding imaginable. Koh Kong, we will meet again!