Feeling like Robinson Crusoe on Crusoe Island


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How we spent five days on the amazing Koh Ta Kiev

Ever since we first met we have been celebrating New Year’s on memorable places. Our first New Years was in Barcelona, we had only know each other for two months and this was our first trip together. Our second New Year’s was in a little hut in the middle of nowhere.
Angela fell asleep before midnight and when she woke up it was 00.30, having missed everything. It was one of the coldest New Year’s ever with -12 C. There was only one small wood burner which failed in heating the little hut. On top of that, there was something in the hut that made me really allergic. I was sneezing, feeling sick, it was super cold and we were in the middle of nowhere. It was horrible, but memorable.

This New Year’s eve plans formed in a busy alley in Saigon. We were sitting in the sun, enjoying our Vietnamese coffee. There was a unoccupied plastic stool next to us on which a South-African guy sat down. After the usual where-you-from-where-you-going-chat, he told a story of an uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere in Cambodia with hammocks on the beach and just a handful of people. Not thinking too much of it in early November, we wrote it down and forgot about it until some time later.

A few weeks later, the end of December was creeping in closer and we knew that we had to book something  if we didn’t want to get stuck in Siem Reap for Christmas and New Year’s. After shopping around a little on the usual hostel-websites we suddenly remembered the South-African guy and his hammock island. So we did some Googlin’ around and we were sold right away.

The place we were told about so many weeks ago in Saigon is Crusoe Island, and it’s one of three guesthouses on the island, Koh Ta Kiev. Crusoe Island is a place Robinson himself would’ve liked. It’s basic, it’s sandy, there’s bamboo, there’s jungle, it’s great. Crusoe Island is run by Liam, with amazing staff (Hi Talu and Jake!). Liam is a relaxed Australian guy who has set up Crusoe Island only a short while ago. He is not planning to make this in to a big fancy resort, thank God. If you want to visit Crusoe Island, you can make a booking on Liam’s website. (We were not sponsored, just really liked it!)

Crusoe Island has its own boat. Pick up is from one of the Sihanoukville beaches on the Crusoe boat. It takes about an hour to get to the island. Sitting in the sun with the wind in your hair, sailing along the Sihanoukville coastline is a good way to start any adventure on an uninhabited jungle island.

A night in a tent at Crusoe Island will cost you $5 with tent, mattress and pillows included. You can pitch your tent anywhere you like, Liam will tell you how big the probability of your tent being washed away is in the spot where you initially want to pitch it. We moved three times in the five days we were on the island. If you are willing to take the time to explore Crusoe Island’s part of Koh Ta Kiev there are amazing camping spots to be found. If you hate camping there are four bungalows you can rent, in varying prices and sizes. You can also just rent a hammock for $2 if you want to go survival style.

After pitching your tent there’s a whole lot of stuff to do on Koh Ta Kiev. There are lots of hammocks in Crusoe Island’s base camp where you can hang out, play cards, have a good conversation. read a book or everyone’s favorite: get high. Places like Koh Ta Kiev attract great people and you’re sure to meet someone interesting there. We met a great Dutch girl who was visiting with her 4 year old kid. They’d been traveling together through Thailand and Cambodia for two months. There are so many people who would never take that leap and travel that long and so far away from home with a little kid, and yet it can be so immensely educative for a child, we think every should do it. This little guy was speaking English and interacting with everyone and  he had learned so much more than school can ever teach a 4 year old

If you’re feeling all ‘Dora the Explorer’ you can go for a walk around the island. There are two other guesthouses down the coast, one is Cambodian run, the other is ran by a French dude. At one of those guesthouses is a guy making his own absinthe which once led to a liquor-fueled orgy right on the beach of Crusoe Island.

If you want to have the feeling you’re all by yourself, washed up on a truly uninhabited island, you can find a really secluded spot to pitch your tent and build things. There’s always some stuff to be found in the flotsam that you can use. I built a swing out of bamboo and rope when we were there.

The days we spent on Koh Ta Kiev were perfect. Waking up at sunrise with only the sound of the waves, coming scarily close to your tent. Spending days on our private beach, shared only with crabs, crawling out of their holes and running towards the sea. Seeing several ant colonies relocate. Skinny dipping at six in the morning, watching the sunrise. We loved it. Whenever you’re in Cambodia, go check it out! Koh Ta Kiev is amazing.