We decided to stay at Palm Beach Bungalow Resort on Koh Rong. Palm Beach is different to other accommodation on the island as it’s actually on the other side of the island, instead of within the rowdy Touch Village side where you will find stray dogs attacking tourists, people off their faces on alcohol and/or drugs, and local kids stealing things from your room while you sleep – (horror stories we heard from the manager of Palm Beach who used to work at Touch Village!).
Took a 2.5 hr boat to Koh Rong with ‘Beast,’ a big Estonian who has spent the last few years in Cambodia and has no intention of returning back home; especially as he’s kinda on the run from the military that he deserted. He’s well traveled, and full of hilarious and dramatic stories especially after a few drinks. Beast manages Palm Beach along with Kevin, a South African, who owns the place, and both were incredibly friendly, and they both seemed like they wanted the best for their adopted country.
We had an incredible BBQ dinner on the first and last nights (they only set it up if there’s enough people – one night we were the only guests!), pork ribs, chicken legs and tuna, served with potato and coleslaw salads, for $6.50 pp.
All portions are huge and we really struggled finishing our fried rice/noodle lunches one day. I had to have a nap after that! There’s also a good mix of Khmer and Western food.
Palm Beach Accommodation only has electricity from 6pm to about 10.30-11pm, so all meats/drinks come from the mainland every few days. Everything is kept on ice (that also comes from the mainland!), but for some amazing reason there is always cold draft beer, curtesy of an ingenious pipe through an esky, and there is always some cool music playing – thanks to a battery powered sound system.
The bungalows have windows (a rarity) and under the roof there is a huge gap to allow a cool breeze in. It also means geckos, mozzies, spiders, frogs etc. can get in too so there’s a good mozzie net over the bed. They also provided a really powerful chargable lamp for those during-the-night-toilet breaks which I thought was a nice touch!
Palm Beach was awesome for the whole rustic, deserted beach getaway. I think it helped that we were one of only two couples staying there at the time. Touch Village on the other hand sounded like any other SE Asian island filled with bars, clubs, tourist scams and drunks looking for a party. (The other couple ended up stranded on that side one night and told us the difference between the two sides).
It was also awesome because we got on so well with Beast and the other couple and we had entertaining dinners, hiked to the 7km white beach together, and played darts until the power was turned off!
Another thing that made the experience at Palm Beach such an enjoyable one was the local staff that worked there. There was a married Khmer couple who tried to teach us Khmer words at each meal, and they were so much fun to be around. They, along with an older woman, loved learning words off us too, and were incredibly proud when they could remember our names, and even write them! Despite the language barrier, we always had a good laugh together. They are a real asset to Palm Beach.