Backpack Of Stories (Story 1)

Story 1:

What could Koh Rong? 

Annie and I are waking up from a night in Phnom Pehn after a long bus ride crossing the boarder into Cambodia from Ho Chi Mihn. I’m still full from the very big dinner of tacos and margaritas we managed to find the night before.

And then we are on another bus bound for the Cambodian island of Koh Rong. I am beyond eager because after our time in the cold, rainy cities of Vietnam, all I am wanting is a beach.

But at what cost.

About 6 hours later, one bus, one tuk-tuk, and one overpriced ferry later they toss or backpack off into the dock in Koh Rong

I’m on a beach! 

I couldn’t be happier despite the rough handling of the bag, my slight seasickness, and the fact that if I was really judging critically…Koh Rong isn’t really the nicest beach. Especially in southeast asia. 

I digress.

The first thing to do is find a place to stay. And our first mistake had been booking some place on hostel world and then this morning finding out that it was like 45 minutes away from the main strip of the island. By car! 

So anyway, we bailed on that place, and we didn’t have any wifi to cancel the booking. So that desposit went to waste. 

But I was not disheartened yet!

I prowled the beach while Annie watched our bags and finally found this place called Sunset which I thought was nice and the restaurant below the guest house portion had hummus and anyone who has been following y southeast asia adventure knows how much hummus means to me at this moment. so. 

We pay for the room ($9 USD–I should mention that Cambodia uses American dollars! if you didn’t know. And that was quite a wild change from the millions of Vietnamese dong we were spending)


Well, I don’t think Brenna did a super great job picking the place. The restaurant was nice. But the room was basically outside, considering the whole roof area was totally open. This was nice for hearing the ocean, but sort of shitty when it came to bugs and the fact that we were literally right next to the bathroom. 

But I was not discouraged yet!

That afternoon I had a blissful time walking down the beautiful beach. (It was beautiful in my head because I chose to ignore the fact that they literally pump sewage into the ocean across the beach)

And the thing about Koh Rong that I noticed almost immediately is…everyone lives there. Not Cambodian people. Foreigners. It’s almost completely inhabited by grungy backpackers who either ran out of money or are hiding from the real world by getting a waitressing/bartending/pub crawl hosting/t-shirt selling job here on this island. And immediately I felt like I was the lone visiter on this island of people who from my vantage all knew each other.

That night Annie and I ate at the restaurant under our guesthouse which was the highlight of the night because the food was amazing. And then the island was surprisingly dead for a so called “party island” that night so we went to sleep.

The highlighof the next day was I was eating in the restaurant under the guesthouse and down walks two girls I had taken the slow boat with about 2 weeks earlier. They had taken a completely different route and somehow ended up in the same place at the same time. What is life? And to top it off. I was walking down the beach a few hours later and I run into Rory, the talkative Irish guy who AJ and I shared a room with on the way to the slow boat so long ago.

There is no end to the small world. 

Well things began to get a little worse. We moved hostels this morning and managed to get a place with a roof and mosquito nets for hardly any more money. We go out to enjoy the beach, which, is a bit difficult. Because the sun wasn’t quite out. I would get like 10 minutes of sun. And then 20 of shade. But I was making progress in my book.

Annie got a seat in these wicker chairs hanging from the trees and after a while I bailed on the sand and went to sit in the wicker hanging chairs. I’m playing my ukulele, totally chilling, and am completely unaware that this is the moment my phone slips through the wicker chair, into the sand, and I pack up my things and leave it behind.

The next thing we do is finally venture out from our healthy guesthouse food sanctuary and get ourselves some pasta from a restaurant thats just built sort of onto a dock. We should have known. 

And as we’re sitting there is a rainbow! And anyone who knows me, knows that I really love rainbows. I mean who doesn’t? (Besides crazy Chiang Mai backpacker from weeks and weeks earlier). And I remember wanting to get my phone out to take a picture but then thinking “oh no, I should just enjoy this with my eyes” well screw that mentality! If I had looked for my phone at that moment I would’ve realized it was missing and then maybe I could’ve gone back to the swing and gotten it.

It pays to take photos people!

Anyway then it starts raining. And so we rush back to our room and huddle out for a bit waiting for the rain to end. When the rain finally ends is when I go to look for my phone and realize it’s gone. And I know its by the wicker hanging chairs.

So Annie and I go out through the gloom to the wicker hanging chairs and of course no phone. We pass by Rory on the way and at this point I’m a bit teary and I have to be like “I lost my phone” on top of all the other stuff I had lost at this point! (Maybe just the 5000 baht)

And we’re walking back and Annie is like “hey, it’s not the end of the world because I have an extra phone” And she did. She had been traveling with her old iPhone to use with the Thai sim card. And so she says “you can just have my old one” And it was just the nicest thing ever. She’s a good friend. And I was obviously feeling guilty for taking it from her.

I don’t wanna give up on my phone completely. So I log into my Facebook messenger from Annie’s phone and I’m looking through the messages and I stumble on a message that had been sent from my phone to my Grandma and it’s like “found phone Koh Rong. What do now?”

And I’m like hallelujah! Bless the universe! And bless me!

So I write back and say where I’m staying and ask if they can bring my phone here.

No response.

Actually it isn’t even delivered. There are different colored checks in the corner of the Facebook messenger that let you know if the messages have been delivered or read. And it didn’t even make it to my phone. And it’s easy enough to understand why. I’m not in Thailand. I don’t have data. My phone isn’t picking up messages if it’s not in wifi. And we are in the middle of bumfuck Koh Rong where literally no where has wifi and we have to steal wifi in our guesthouse from the restaurant next door.

I digress. 

All night I wait for the check in the corner to turn blue.


We venture back to the Sunset healthy restaurant for some food and wine to try to make Brenna feel better and channel some good energy so this person takes my phone into wifi and reads the message.

No luck. 

Actually the opposite. It starts pouring rain! Way worse than earlier in the afternoon. And so we’re stuck–not that we had a lot of plans anyway. We’re living on a $20 a day budget and the wine pushed that over the edge. We ended up hanging with the Norwegian girls from the sow boat, and they are cool.

But finally we had to brave the rain and go back to our hostel room.

Still no blue check. 

The morning rolls around and we had wanted to get the earliest ferry out in the morning, but when the alarms go off for us to wake up and catch the 8am ferry, there’s still no response from phone man. And at this point I’m just so frustrated with this fantasy person who just dangled this carrot in front of my face, only to cruel rip it away.

So we miss that ferry.

And to just top everything off we both wake up with massive food poisoning from (most likely) the sketchy dock-pasta we ate yesterday. I take the initiative and make myself throw up everything that is in my stomach before it can get much worse. Not the most graceful solution, but it does the trick.

Annie already too far gone for the throw-up trick so she’s running to the bathroom every couple minutes. And we’re both sunburnt from the totally cloudy day the day before. We’re nursing two smoothies down the road from the hostel and this is when I finally had enough. 

And we’re both basically crying at this point. And Annie texts her mom, explains that we are burnt, food poisoned, phone less, and just so, so dirty in general from this dirty place, and she immediately recognizes the situation and offers to buy us a hotel room in Phnom Penh. (Our destination for the night).

It’s enough to make everyone cry.

And I’m crying because there is still no blue check. And so I finally decide I have to catch a ferry. And we get on the 1pm ferry and I just sail away from my phone.

Goodbye Koh Rong.

And good fucking riddance. IMG_0002.JPG


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