Cut off on the island
Rabbit Island, Kep, Cambodia
In the world these days, it seems the most isolated you can feel is when you are without the internet. No wifi with which to read your emails, no connection to check current events, no broadband to browse your bored friends and their updates on social media.
So it is that I feel isolated here on Rabbit Island… but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Rabbit Island is a small patch of land in the sea off the coast of southern Cambodia. From the town of Kep, it’s accessible only by boat through choppy but refreshing waters. With only a few backpackers and a few backpacks as its cargo, the boat takes just 30 minutes to glide to the island.
There’s only one part of the island where visitors can stay – on the beach which the boats land on. Stretched along it, just metres from the sand, are dozens of small bungalows. There are no guesthouses or hotels. The only accommodation option is a simple little shack. There must only be about one hundred bungalows on the whole island. That means no more than two hundred people here at any one time… although I suspect it’s normally much less.
Every ten or so bungalows belong to a different owner, and each has also built a little bar or restaurant by the shoreline. They’re the only places to get anything to eat or drink – not that it’s a problem because the food is delicious and the prices reasonable. I order crabs for lunch and, several minutes later, the boy who took my order wanders out into the water and collects some crabs from the cage floating ten metres out to sea. There’s no denying the food is fresh.
There isn’t really much to do except eat, drink, relax and enjoy the water. The only power on the island comes from generators – and usually only for a few hours during dinner in the evening. There are no electronic distractions, no other places to be, no outside influences. The most exciting parts of the day tend to come from finishing a chapter of your book.
I decide to be slightly active one morning and go for a walk around the whole island. It takes me almost two hours… but not because it is particularly large. It’s more because there is no obvious path or development so at times I’m forced to beat my way through bushes, clamber over rocks, or wade through a rising tide.
Local fishing families and their small wooden shacks are the only signs of life on the walk. Some of them are clearly out to sea, but others have the boats and nets pulled up close to the sand. I get smiles and waves from them as I walk past… and on one occasion, a friendly point towards the path which I couldn’t quite find myself.
But for the most part, Rabbit Island is about doing nothing. The other tourists here seem content to lie in the sun, read a book, take a leisurely lunch, nap in a hammock, and any of the other things you might expect on a remote beach. One hairy backpacker told me he was here to detox after a week of partying in Phnom Penh, but I don’t think that is the norm.
No, this is just one of those little tropical getaways where the worries of the world are left at the mainland. It’s far enough off the trail to not feel crowded. It’s the perfect little place to get away from it all for a few days.