Mad Island Monkeys in Cambodia

Mad Island Monkeys in Cambodia

Land sickness

Tuesday 12th March 2019

After seeing the amazing Angkor Wat and spending some time in Siem Reap, I was getting land sickness. Land sickness? Yes it’s a thing!

It was time to set sail for one of the amazing islands off the Cambodian Coast. Ko Rong Sanloem.

The Night Bus to Sihanoukville

7.35pm. I waited for the night bus to take us to Sihanoukville and met some European guys doing the same thing. The bus takes about 13 hours, with some short stops. The cost was $14USD. I had been on one of these before, going from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap so knew what to expect. There was some European guy with a Nazi-like tattoo on his leg on the bus.

If you’re a light sleeper, you might have trouble getting some kip on the night buses. I was lucky in so far as I had nobody beside me for 3/4 of the journey. Yes, you have one person bed you in a very tight, intimate space ha. You are given a blanket and small pillow for the journey. I didn’t get too much sleep though for the first few hours due to the incessant nosy of people rolling dice, playing some game over head!

In many parts of Cambodia, the roads are not great. It’s quite normal to awaken to feeling like the bus is driving down a mountain, hitting rocks en route! 

Sihanoukville - What To Expect

Finally, the bus reached Sihanoukville at 8am and I paid for a tuk-tuk to take us to the port (for seem reason I thought the transport from bus drop-off to the port was covered in the bus-ferry ticket…but anyway).

Sihanoukville is a port town, that at first didn’t seem very “nice” or inviting. There are many building sites under construction and a lot of street vendors particularly at the port, flogging the usual stuff. Saying that, I didn’t venture too far from the port as there wasn’t time before catching the ferry.

Around 9am, the ferry (Speed Ferry Cambodia) to the Koh Rong islands set sail. The ferry takes about 40 minutes to the first island.

Speed Ferry Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia - Irish Bootstrapper

Right or Rong?

Yes, there are two islands off Sihanoukville. Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem. After the ling night bus and getting straight onto the ferry, hunger ensued! I met two guys from US, Tyler and JP and we got some breakfast at the Orchid, for $6USD (island life can be expensive!). 

So around 10am the ferry docked at Koh Rong Sanloem, and another small boat takes you to the Mad Monkey Resort then (another 15 minutes).

We waited until maybe 12 noon for the small boat to take us to our resort, Mad Monkey Koh Rong Sanloem.

Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia 1 - Irish BootstrapperKoh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia 2 - Irish BootstrapperKoh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia 3 - Irish BootstrapperSmall Boat to Mad Monkey Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia - Irish Bootstrapper 

Mad Monkey Koh Rong Sanloem

After taking the 15 minute boat to the secluded part of the island, I stepped foot on land again to check into the Mad Monkey resort. It’s a really cool resort, with bar, restaurant and hut-style bamboo housing! My accom was in the Reef hut.

On the island itself, is a nice beach, with clear waters and those swings you see on polished Insta posts. A few minutes walk away is the pier bar, where you can chill out or swing into the water.

Food and drink on the island is naturally a bit more expensive, with a can of beer costing $1.25USD and a chicken or pork fried rice costing $3.50USD.

The first night consisted of a good session at the bar, with games of beer cricket and music until the early hours. Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia 5 - Irish BootstrapperMad Monkey Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia - Irish BootstrapperMad Monkey Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia 2 - Irish BootstrapperMad Monkey Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia 3 - Irish BootstrapperMad Monkey Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia - Irish BootstrapperMad Monkey Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia - Irish BootstrapperMad Monkey resort Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia - Irish BootstrapperGym at Mad Monkey resort Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia - Irish Bootstrapper

Waking Up With The Crickets

I rose about 10am to the sound of crickets, which was an achievement following the previous night’s partying. The sleeping wasn’t too bad considering no air con (you are basically outside sure, in a hut). I went for a wander around the island, took some snaps and went for some brunch.

I took it easy on day 2, partly hungover and partly just tired from the heat.Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia - Irish BootstrapperKoh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia - Irish BootstrapperKoh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia - Irish BootstrapperKoh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia - Irish Bootstrapper

Heading Back to the Mainland

After two nights at this awesome resort on a remote island, it was time to set sail again back to the mainland. I woke up early, packed the bag and we took the boat to catch the 10am ferry back to Sihanoukville.


I decided to go back to Phnom Penh. My bus wasn’t leaving until 2.30pm so I went for breakfast and had a brief look around. Nothing special.

A few of us boarded the bus and Set off on our journey, stopping half way for food and toilet breaks. The bus driver stuck on some movie in Cambodian to kill time.

Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh Cambodia - Irish BootstrapperSihanoukville to Phnom Penh Cambodia - Irish BootstrapperSihanoukville to Phnom Penh Cambodia 3 - Irish Bootstrapper

Back at the Billabong

I liked Billabong before and didn’t want to think about booking somewhere else so i booked in again, threw down the bags and went for some food in a hot pot place (hot pot meals are pretty common in SE Asia).

A stroll by the river in Phnom Penh

I took a stroll down by the river in Phnom Penh and went for a drink in a rooftop bar. Pretty cool sights of the city. In Cambodia, the family unit is very important. It’s common to see families out around the city spending time just chilling, eating or playing football etc. Down by the river, this is very much the case.

Smoothies on The Street

I found a little smoothie cart near Billabong where I made it a ritual very morning to get a smoothie after breakfast. In a previous post, I mentioned the Thai food place where you can get a meal for $2. Fried rice and pork with some veg was the breakfast order for a few days, followed by a smoothie.

Paddy’s Day in Phnom Penh

17th March 2019. I think this was my first time not being in Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day. There were no parades or major celebrations. Some of the Irish and English bars around the city did decorate their premises and offer Irish drinks promos. That was about it. I wore some green to get in the mood ha.

The Last Supper in Phnom Penh

My time in Cambodia was coming to an end and I had made some friends with the Billabongers traveling. Maybe 20 of us went out for a big group meal in a restaurant that provides jobs and training to Khmer people. The food was nice but quite expensive but we didn’t care as it was for a good cause.  One American guy had a big spider on his burger. My dish wasn’t too crazy, just a mango chicken with some rice.

Russian Markets

I was applying for my Vietnamese Visa though Billabong hostel but it took a bit longer than expected due to being a weekend. So, myself and another Irish guy I met had some time to kill, he was heading off to another country next. We booked a Pass app tuk-tuk to the Russian markets we heard so much about. You can literally buy anything here! From a kickstarter for a Honda 50 to a ream of silk, to “fresh” meat to the latest counterfeit bags and runners. It’s a huge indoor market with food outlets too. I picked up some souvenirs and a shirt. Bargains! Always try to bargain if you think what you’re buying is way overpriced.


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