Sihanoukville, Cambodia (23 Dec)

All smiles, even in spite of the mangrove!

After a couple of days lazing on the beach and fending off the never-ending onslaught of young peddlers, Suhail and I decided to head out and explore the area around Sihanoukville. We booked a boat cruise and headed out for a beautiful day in the sun.

Our captain was a fun loving German, who had obviously left the rigidity of his homeland for a more carefree approach to life. And who could ask for more, every day, he heads out on his boat and sails around one of the most beautiful stretches of coast in the world. While on the water, he blasts his favorite tunes and serves drinks to people who are thrilled to be on holiday in such a lovely place. Not bad at all.

The boat docked after about 45 minutes out so people could snorkel or scuba dive. We had planned to snorkel, but the current was strong and we decided to just swim a bit and then dry off in the sun on the deck.

We decided the view was better from the deck - just look at that water!

After everyone was loaded back on the boat, lunch was served and we headed further on, to what turned out to be the most beautiful, unspoilt island of our whole trip.

Kind of like being on the set of "Lost" for the day

Once we docked, we were transported to the shore in small boats and given the choice of doing a forest walk, a mangrove walk or just lounging on the beach. We decided to do the mangrove walk first, but that is only because we really didn’t know what we were in for…

Last glance back at the beach we should have stayed on, with mangrove water in the foreground

We weren't the only ones who didn't know...

In hindsight, I guess I didn’t really know what a mangrove was, and the vague idea I did have was not enough to prepare me for the warm, mucky, tea colored water we were about to wade through. The bottom was thick with leaves and the occasional branch or entire tree (which, of course, we could not see) and at points, the water was up to our shoulders!

I think Suhail does look a bit grossed out here

Soon enough, we were through the traumatic mangrove walk and we explored the forest and washed off all the scum in the beautiful clear water of the incredible bay. Everyone got back on the boat and our captain was apparently ready to party, so our surprising day out continued. Suhail put together a video that shows all the highlights – check it out here: