We’d lost the dog. He’d followed us since we found the path and I’d hoped he was showing us the route. Except, now he had completely disappeared. We’d also lost our way. The handful of trees were about 10 feet tall and offered little shade in the burning heat. It was only 9am but the sweat was slowly beading down my back. The trail had completely disappeared and I was pretty sure we hadn’t meant to climb through that barbed wire fence. On the other end of the trail was an isolated, paradise beach, and we weren’t giving up yet.
The hike to Long Beach takes you through the middle of the island, and is one of the few active things you can do on Koh Rong. Starting at 7am, we walked to the main pier to find the starting point. A tiny wooden board with ‘Long Beach Path’ written in faded paint hung above an alleyway. We’d already walked past it twice. The path led up some stairs and into an empty bar, which we’d been told to walk straight through. It was here that our four legged friend decided to join us, heading off out the back of the bar and into some scrubland. Ben and I looked at each other and shrugged, before following Lassie through the door.
It was a pretty intense uphill climb before the path split. One veered off to the left, while the other followed the fence in front of us. We decided to go straight ahead. I have no idea why because the dog had wandered off to the left, but you know, my brain was sure the tiny, overgrown path made much more sense than the well trodden one. Maybe I should put my application to SAS: Who Dares Wins on hold.
Lassie showed up again, and we continued our climb under a barbed wire fence and onto piles of rocks and stones, optimistically trying to keep to a path that definitely wasn’t there. And then the dog buggered off. Cheers Lassie. By now the sun was burning down and it was only 9 in the morning. We hadn’t even found the main path yet and we still had a jungle to trek through! We struggled in vain to find a way through, and then turned back. Back over the rocks and under the barbed wire fence. Then, as though it was a mirage in a sun parched desert, the REAL path emerged in front of us. We should have taken that left turn. Sorry Lassie, you were right.
And for the next hour we hiked. Through jungle and through streams, we were now following a clearly marked path to Long Beach. The jungle shaded us from the scorching sun, and the small stream kept our feet nice and cool. As we neared the end of the jungle, we descended down some steep rocks, climbing over logs and stumbling out onto the most beautiful turquoise beach I’ve ever seen. Pure white sand stretched before us for miles, the shallow water so clear that it had no colour to it at all. As we shed our sweaty hiking clothes and ran into the sea, we looked around and realised we had this 7km bay to ourselves. And it stayed that way for the next hour. We swam, we read, we messed around in the sand. This deserted beach was our own paradise. When the next group of people arrived a while later, we were crusted with salt and sand, ready to get some food back on the other side of the island. Locals offer motorbike rides back across a dirt road, rather than doing the hike again (thank the lord) so we hopped on a scooter and said farewell to Long Beach. Is it worth the trek? Completely. Is it as beautiful as everyone says? Absolutely. Should you follow the dog? Yes.