The secluded gorgeous beach at Koh Sampouch
Two months ago I visited the south coast with my brother Tim and one of our trips whilst we were in the area was into the Ream National Park
, an area of Cambodia I'd never visited. Joining us was a good friend of mine, Vy, who works at the Sokha Beach hotel in Sihanoukville, as we took a tuk-tuk from the town out to the National Park HQ near the airport to find out more and book ourselves a boat trip. We hired the boat, with a pilot (also called Vy) and guide (Heang), at the nearby Prek Toeuk Sap Ranger station and headed out past the mangrove forests that occupied both banks of the river just after 10am. Tim used to be a twitcher in his youth and pointed out white-bellied sea eagles, egrets and kingfishers amongst the birds we saw as we headed out past the mainland and Koh Thmei island, reaching the quiet and secluded Koh Sampouch beach in just under a couple of hours. The boat beached for a minute for us to jump off before heading back, whilst we took refuge from the scorching overhead mid-day sun in a small wooden open-sided hut where we ate our lunch, to the sound of waves lapping against the shore. A handful of other sun worshippers had also found this remote spot where the sand was white and soft and the setting idyllic. Small crabs scurried across the hot sand and a lizard scampered across the floor of the hut as we dipped our feet into the sea before a three kilometre hike through the tropical forest brought us to the fishing village of Thmor Thom, which also houses a dolphin-watching station. We watched the day's catch of fish being gutted before reuniting with our boat for the 2 hour ride back to the Ranger station and a return to Sihanoukville. We didn't see all that Ream National Park has to offer by any means - it has a mountain waterfall, more secluded beaches as well as a healthy population of wildlife including freshwater dolphins around the turn of the year - but we got a glimpse of this untouristed corner of the south coast before the expected developers move in and turn the coastline into a resort and hotel extravaganza.
3 beach bums: Myself, Vy and Tim at Koh Sampouch beach Part of the day's catch at Thmor Thom village, ready for gutting Friendly fishermen on the Prek Toeuk Sap river estuary