The plan for today is to do the boat trip in Ream National Park (Preah Sihanouk National Park). I agreed yesterday with the park rangers to meet today at 8 in the morning and go together to the place where the boat leaves, which is where the river crosses national road 4, some kilometers outside Sihanoukville. We agreed also that I would pay $20 for the trip. The official price is $25, regardless of how many people go.
I ride to the ranger headquarters and from here with one of the rangers to the post from which boat trips start.
This is the post.
I learn that the establishment of the park was funded by UNDP, DANIDA, and other organizations. There are a number of posters and pictures on the walls, among them one with the park’s well defined goals and objectives.
Down there is the boat that we will take.
I start the trip in the company of two rangers.
After we have passed the few houses close to the road there are no indications of human settlement. Dense trees and mangroves cover both banks of the river.
I learn that only one family lives in this ‘village’. There are a number of villages in the park. Most of these people have been here before its establishment and communities participate in park management.
Once in a while we come across people in boats.
There are more settlements and boats around where the river flows into the sea.
These guys are diving for sea food on the ground of the river.
We go for some time along the coastline and stop at one of the beaches. Nobody is here.
I go for a long swim, with the diving mask I bought yesterday in the market. The water is fairly clear and rather warm, at any rate, very pleasant.
Later some local show up and go for a swim, too. Khmers tend to bath with a lot of cloths.
After some time we leave. The ranger tells me that we walk from here through the forest, for just about half an hour, until we reach a village at the river, where we meet the other ranger with the boat again and head all the way back.
In the forest.
We are coming closer to the village.
The only local educational institution is this ‘Jesus School’. I learn that it is funded by a Korean organization.
We are arriving at the beach again. The hut in the center of the picture is a ranger station.
People are drying very small shrimps in the sun and we have a break and a snack.
Then we leave again with the boat.
This is when we arrive back at the ranger station, which is on the left hand of this bridge along national road 4.
From here I ride back to Sihanoukville. The – rather dated – Adventure Cambodia guide book recommends visiting Independence Hotel, which is located on the far northwest end of Independence Beach. The guide book suggests that this seven story building is vacant and a great spot for views and photos of the surrounding area along the beach.
I go to Snake Island. I still have to see the monkeys and I intend to walk from there to the Independence Hotel along the beach.
On Snake Island I do not see the monkeys, only some tiny dogs.
I walk along the river to the east, climbing over huge rocks for about 20 minutes.
The hotel is behind the tree in the center of the picture.
The hotel does not look vacant at all. In fact it looks pretty new. I talk to people and learn that the hotel has been renovated by an investor and inauguration will take place soon. It is not permitted to enter.
Then I walk back to Snake Island where I have parked the moto.
I ride back to the guesthouse where I have diner and spent the evening with reading.