Koh Tonsay travel blog — My own little paradise!
The trip to Koh Tonsay was not planned. I’d never heard of the location before. But that only added to the awesomeness of the experience: I discovered it by chance. When I actually stumbled out of the bus.
Because this agency man was ready and waiting for me. And soon after, he lured me with the notion of leaving Kep and visiting this little little island about 30 minutes away by boat. And because I’m a prime candidate for rapid sales, he had me wrapped around his little finger in no time. So, when I got in Kep early in the morning at 7 a.m., I had a feeling I’d be bored spending the entire day there.
After a short coffee with the locals (which was weird because no one spoke English and Khmer women were not permitted to join the table…), I got aboard a Tricycle to make it to the Pier on time. I was going to see a Cambodian island this time. Was it going to live up to my excitement for Thai islands I’d just seen a few months before (Koh Phi Phi, Koh Phayam, Koh Tao)?
The ferry ride itself was an experience in and of itself — they were considerably smaller than Thai ships. They appeared to be fishing vessels (probably because they are fishing boats). Their exhausts were on the verge of failing as they continued to huff and puff black smoke in all directions (not so environmentally friendly).
Then I showed up. And then there was quiet. It was another Koh Phayam that I had fell in love with! There were virtually no people present. There is no loud music playing everywhere. There are no large hotels. There will be no McDonald’s. I believe there are only eight families on the island, and they all manage either modest bungalows or their own restaurant next to their own home.
It felt like though I had traveled to see family on their own island. Isn’t it cool? I was dying to get out and explore more of it – I should walk or do something, I reasoned. But then a nice policeman (yep, Koh Tonsay has its own small police station / cabana) warned me that getting to the opposite side of the island would be a two-hour trek. It was also going to be hilly and hot. So… Nah, I reasoned. Let’s take it easy today and simply relax, read a book, and take in the lovely view.
But, as you know, I grow bored easily. So, after less than an hour, I decided to take another stroll down the beach and look for lunch (it was only 10.30am, but I figured somewhere someone would be serving an early lunch – the freshly baked Croissant I bought in Kep wasn’t keeping me satisfied for long…although it was a pretty tasty Croissant…but that is besides the point…). I sat down on one of the plastic seats and ordered what Kep and Koh Tonsay were famous for: Crab!
I’m sorry I did. After only 30 minutes, the pleasant family guy / server stepped next to me, bringing me a massive dish with four massive crabs looking back. Their claws were securely fastened to their body with plastic bands. Then he goes away. ‘Emmm…excuse me…could you kindly explain me how to eat this?’ He chuckles. Great. He’s presumably thinking to himself, ‘Oh you white tourists.’ I don’t know anything about cooking.’ True, I had no notion how to eat a crab with my hands. If I had been handed a mallet, I would have known what to do. I believe.
But like this?
As a result, he forcefully rips off the crab’s shell, as if he were removing numerous pages from a book. He performs this while standing, the crab’s eyes now looking back at me as I sit down. Then he twists the legs off, pointing to the flesh, and exclaims, “Now eat!” My hunger vanishes as I stare down in disgust at the unfortunate crab on my plate. I’ve never felt so savage in my whole life. Why would someone want to do this? How can you do this willingly?
I was facing a dilemma
It would be impolite not to eat any of this because they had prepared it for me – I didn’t want to offend anyone. This was the entire objective of my predetermined plan: to submerge myself and become one of them. But I couldn’t bear the notion of eating these crabs any longer. On the other side, they are no longer alive. They are, indeed, no longer alive. Because of my actions. You are a crab killer! As a result, I chose to consume them. I wasn’t going to be impolite. I wasn’t about to be an embarrassed tourist who returned with a big platter of (executed) crabs. And, sure, I was crying uncontrollably. It wasn’t a nice experience. It was also the last time I would eat crabs, lobsters, or anything else that has been killed by being cooked alive and looks back at you in its crimson macabre-ness.
I needed a beer at that point. No matter the time. 11am for a beer was perfectly acceptable.
Especially after this.
After all, I resolved to finish my novel. I picked one of the several hammocks, sat on it, and read for hours. Until I slipped out of my hammock and attempted to act as if nothing had happened. I also hoped that the folks 10 meters away, who were eating lunch, didn’t see. It appeared to be rather dumb. My buttocks stung as well since I landed on top of the roots of a tree underneath me. Just like you.
I decided to return to Kep around 1pm to make the most of my time there and see more of the small town. So I asked one of the fisherman whether they were planning on returning to the mainland anytime soon. ‘You are welcome to come now.’ Awesome. The official ferry wasn’t leaving until 4 p.m. It simply goes to show that if you don’t ask, the response is usually ‘No.’
I sat on the boat’s deck (there were no chairs, in case you were wondering) and listened in on a conversation between four local ladies, which included a lot of giggling. They were undoubtedly watching me eat my crabs, I reasoned. And I became lost in a fantasy, like I usually do when I’m on a boat. Until the black smoke vapors blasted into my face.
Koh Tonsay. I will never forget you. For more reasons than just your sheer beauty.
***How to get there? Book a bus in one of the many travel agencies in Kampot (to Kep). Then buy a ticket for a ferry (return if you want to come back the same day – or simply rent a bungalow and stay overnight – just keep in mind that there is no electricity after 10pm. Yep, it is that rural).
Cost for bus & ferry? I paid about 5 Dollars for the bus to Kep and another 5 USD for the ferry to Koh Tonsay. I think you can get it even cheaper than that.