Sleeping in bungalows on an island with chickens, pigeons, and stray dogs means get ready for noisy chaos at 5am. The dogs fought and played with excited barking, the chickens called for each other, the pigeons flapped their wings hard before and after less than graceful landings on our roof. We could hear animals on our porch too. It was very comedic to listen to. So without much choice, we got up early. We enjoyed a peaceful breakfast on the beach and watched the calm water, taking in our last few moments of paradise.
We had the boat back to ourselves except for this lone French guy who had stayed on the island as well. To me, he defined that stereotypical “lost” traveller who is actually considerably more found than most people. He had little with him and walked around barefoot most places even though he carried around worn out shoes. I looked at those shoes and wondered how many places they’d been in this world – like mine, they had a story. He held this confidence in the experience of not knowing what would come next, a trait most lack.
On the ride back I could see the effects of not having proper trash disposal in the country. Throughout the waves, empty rice packages, bottles, candy wrappers, and gas containers floated by us. It’s always shocking how such a beautiful place can be destroyed so easily.
We hopped off the boat and walked to the main road and waited for our tuktuk driver from the day before. He arrived late, but with a smile. He drove us the long way back to Kep lodge so we could see the scenery more.
We arrived too early at the hotel so our room was not ready yet, we had a few hours to spare. We decided to walk along the trails behind the hotel, a much bigger adventure than we expected.
We began hiking with the plan that we would go a little bit and not make it very far. The first portion was the walk was very steep because we were climbing a mountain. It was slippery because of many leaves and little support from big rocks or roots existed. Once we made it to a main road, about a quarter of the way to the top of the mountain, we walked along it, happy for a horizontal path and found s bench to stop at and marvel over the amazing view. We could see the ocean well. The next route we had picked from a vague map was practically vertical it was so steep at first, but this first obstacle actually had rocks and roots to prevent us from slipping.
Like look how steep this path is!
We pushed ourselves and hiked and walked and moved further and further. It’s an amazing feeling to manage to surprise yourself – we made it to the top of that mountain. The hike down involved a lot of sliding, reaching, and grabbing. With the slippery leaf-covered paths, it was not easy. Our legs shook more the further down we went. And the further down we went, the more shocked I was by how far we had gone up. Climbing a mountain is something Emily and I would never have normally done, making it a major accomplishment.
When we got back, we both devoured a pizza before meeting our driver and making our way to a butterfly farm! We entered a net/screen surrounded area where we could views dozens and dozens of spectacular butterflies of various sorts and flowers too.
I ate a new fruit that I had never seen before. It was sticky and very sweet.
On the back we stopped at the coast to look at the water and take in the view.
We found a stray puppy that followed us around, we couldn’t resist playing with it, until its mama came over and showed us it was time to leave. We had to be careful of stray dogs because some are dangerous.
Dinner was nuts. Not the food, but the craziness. We sat at the end of the open room with just a small fence separating us from this huge bush. As we waited for our food, I saw something run across the floor. I assumed it was a lizards because there were lizards everywhere and they were so fast sometimes you missed them – I was wrong. It was a mouse. The mouse started running around our feet in search of scraps of food. Once the food arrived, it didn’t take long for 2 more mice to find their way to that big bush by our table, crawling up the branches closer and closer. Then 2 more. Before we knew it we had around 7 mice getting braver as time went on, getting closer each second. We were not fans of these dinner guests and as I looked at Emily and suggested maybe we should move, a mouse jumped on our table and we both ran.
This wasn’t the end of our animal encounters. We had two lizards running around our walls and ceilings in the room! We tightened our mosquito nets around the beds so they couldn’t get to us while we slept. Emily told me about how once even with a mosquito net a mouse managed to get onto her bed – that freaked me out!