The fishing trip to Rabbit Island

Last week, I decided to go to the beach in Kep. It is about 160 kilometers from Phnom Penh. I felt kind of scared to go to  Rabbit Island alone  and that is why I brought my friend.

I went there to find out which island is the best fishing spot between Sihanoukville and Kep. I prepared my fishing rod, and my stove to cook rice and fish, and I took pepper sauce, and lime to last for two days on the island.

I brought hammocks because we didn’t want to pay for a guesthouse. I prepared everything from home. I bought two bus tickets the day before. Our bus was scheduled to leave on Saturday at 7:30 in the morning.

My friend is kind of a weird guy, he doesn’t talk too much and he wants everyone around him to do everything for him. I don’t really understand him ether. The next morning, I didn’t want to be late, so I went to the bus station at 6:30 am with all the heavily stuff. At about 7, he called me, and asked me where I was.

“I am at the bus station,” I said to him.

In response he yelled, “Have you never taken the bus before? The bus never leaves on time” That is what he said to me.

I replied, “I don’t want to be late. I worry that the bus will leave without us.”

He hung up the phone. I waited  for him on the bus and kept looking at my phone to see what time it was because I wanted to know if the bus would leave on time or not.

At 7:15 everyone got on the bus and the lady who works at the bus company came to check the tickets. Everyone was sitting down in their seats, ready to go, but my friend still hadn’t​arrived. The time was 7:20 when he approached the station, but he did not call me or ask anyone who works for the bus company. I saw him from the window. He was just looking at his phone. I thought that he would call me, but he didn’t.

The bus left on time, but he was still standing there, looking at the bus and he didn’t call me. After the bus drove about 100 meters, I asked the bus driver to stop. I called him, and said, “Now the bus is on the way, where are you?”

I did it on purpose, I wanted him to be serious about everything and not careless the way he is. He had to run behind the bus to get on.

.My first question for him was, “So the bus never leaves on time?”

He replied angrily and asked me why I didn’t call him to tell him that the bus was leaving.

We arrived in Kep and I tried to find the boat to Rabbit Island. My Tuk Tuk’s driver told me he knows about a cheap boat. At first I believed him, but he was not an honest person, he just wanted to make money from us. The boat association in Kep is not good, there are many middle men who try to make extra by selling tickets.

They sell tickets for different prices. Some say it’s  25$ for private boat, others say the trip costs $10 or $8 per person. Many different guys tried to talk to me. I tried to find someone to share the boat with me, but the guy who works at the boat association shouted, “No no no, don’t share the boat, you have enough people already!”

I understood that he wanted me to buy the ticket to make more money. Why do they do that? This makes the tourists feel bad, and made me not want to go back there.

Finally we paid $8 each after 20 minutes bargaining but other people paid for a private boat and they were on the same boat with us.  This clearly shows that the boat association doesn’t care about the tourists. They just want to scare everyone into buying tickets.

Do not go to the island in a small boat in the rainy season! It’s dangerous!

Strong waves hit our boat and I was very scared. If something was to happen to the boat, I don’t know if I could swim to shore with the big waves and with my friend –  he doesn’t know how to swim at all.

He said, “I will die.”

I didn’t feel as afraid as him because I know how to swim, but I kind of worried about him grabbing me.

Finally nothing happened and we arrived on the island. I started to fish for lunch…I tried many places but there was no fish. Rabbit Island has a good beach for swimming but no good places for fishing because it’s shallow.

I tried for a few hours, and still there was no fish. I had to cook my bait for dinner. Luckily, my bait this time was not cockroaches or earth worms. I won’t eat that stuff. I used shrimp and squid for bait so that I could eat them if I don’t catch any fish.

After dinner I prepared the place for us to hang our hammocks.

My friend’s phone battery died, so he had to find a restaurant to charge his phone. The owner asked him, “Where are you staying?”

He told them that we brought hammocks from home and that we will sleep near the beach. She called police quickly to report this. She tried to scare us. I understood the situation. She wanted us to rent her room so that she can make money. I saw that no one was staying at her guesthouse. I think because now it’s the rainy season and no one wants to sleep on the island. The tourists just go for the day to swim and come back in the evening.

She tried to convince us and she wouldn’t stop even though I bought some drinks from her.  I went to the police station nearby, on the island. The policeman woke up, got up from his bed, looked at me and asked why I wanted to sleep outside.

I said because we want to save money. He replied that it is not safe to be outside of the guesthouse. I said to him, “We will stay close to your station so you don’t have to worry about our safety, or if you don’t want to be my guard tonight, I will look after you and be your guard.”

He looked at me with surprise. Normally when people see the cops, they might be scared of them, but I wasn’t.

He told me that if we sleep outside the guesthouse, he will worry that something might happen to us and he told us that if many tourists sleep outside, police will have a hard time ensuring their safety. But I thought that it would be safe because it is a small island with just a few families living on it.

What do you think about this? Did the policeman really care about our security or did he just want to get a tip from the guesthouse owner?

Finally the policeman allowed us to stays outside. I went to check it out at the guesthouse nearby in the morning, it wasn’t has the lock. It was the door but no lock. So what was different to sleep at the guesthouse or sleep outside?

Looking for fish in Kompong Cham province

This time, I went to Kompong Cham province, Streng Trong district where my brother lives with his wife.

He told me that there are lots of fish in the stream near his house. He invited me many times, and one day I decided to go investigate the fishing conditions.

I rode in a van for five hours with many people. I couldn’t move for five hours, feeling like I was treated like a pig on its way to the market.

Finally I arrived and my brother was waiting to pick me up. He told me to buy water to drink, and bring it with me. I asked him why and he said that there is no well in the village, and that the people use the water from the stream for showering and drinking.

I had no idea where I was exactly. My brother picked me up on his motorbike and we drove to his house on a road that was not a real road, but more like an animal trail. I asked him, “Are we almost there?” and he replied, “Yes, we will arrive soon.”

On some parts of the road we couldn’t drive at all because there was too much sand, we had to get off the motorbike and walk. I felt like it took forever, but finally we arrived.

The families that live in my brother’s village just moved there recently. Some came about 5 years ago, others only moved 3 months ago. All of them needed to clear the forest to grown cassava.

My brother’s father in-law told me that three years ago when they just moved to that village, there were many wild animals around, like monkeys and deer in the forest. In the beginning, only about a dozen families lived there, but later more and more families came, following their friends or family.

My brother’s father in law told me that three years ago, every evening he used to see deer or monkeys come to his plantation. “Sometime I killed the deer because it came to eat my cassava,” he said.

Jungle grew all around his house. “I couldn’t walk far from home because I was afraid of tigers,” he said.

But in 2011, more and more people came. When they came, they needed to clear the forest to grow crops and they need the land to build their houses.

When I came to this village, I felt sad because I could see people destroying the forest everywhere, I felt sad even before I heard the father-in-law’s story.  My brother and I walked to the stream where he told me there are lots fish. There other guys in the village came with us too because they wanted to see how our fishing experience turned out.

The water in the stream looked dirty and it was flowing down slowly. My brother told me that this steam connects to Kratie, Kompong Thom and Kompong Cham provinces. We took a small boat.

At first, we caught a catfish, but I was hoping can catch lots. We moved to a different spot but the water there was too shallow.  We needed to find somewhere where the stream was deeper. Along the stream, on the bank that is still covered by forest, I saw a group of monkeys on the tree. They tried to hide from us.

At first I thought that the monkeys meant that the big forest was still left. But a villager told me that it’s only a thin stretch of forest along the stream, and that is why the monkey family lives there. The guy said that in the stream there used to be lots of fish but after people arrived they caught too much fish and used electricity to kill all the fish, and that’s why when I arrived there was no fish.

I think that nature doesn’t need humans to take care of it. When people arrive somewhere or live somewhere they always destroy nature as I see clearly now that the forest is gone and there will be no more wild animals left in Cambodia because people are hurting and destroying their forest.

Why do people need to destroy too much forest?

We were talking half the evening, the sun almost set by the time we returned home with two kilograms of fish for dinner. I didn’t feel that we’ve done enough fishing, so I went back with two of my brothers in-law. We caught a few more fish but only small ones.

The next morning, my brother I decided to go fishing in Treng Trong river. We spent three hours there, but there was no fish at all. I was very tired but still holding my rod with hope…

I will go to my brother’s village again when the water is high, at the end of the rainy season, hoping to catch more fish…

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