end of an era

The Elephant Guest house Koh Rong is currently under renovation – becoming mainstream




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Sanloem, Samloem, Samlon, Sanlon, Salon?

In order to put an end to widespread confusion on how to spell and pronounce Koh Rong Sanloem, let’s check the whole thing.

I am no master of Khmer writing, but OK enough to explain this, though…  This is the word phrase in Khmer:koh rong sanloem in Khmer

Koh Rong Sanloem, the official spelling at Cambodian maps, Google maps, Geotree etc.

When you go through this you might encounter some inconsistencies. This is due to the nature of the rules of the Khmer writing system. Anyhow – i am going to keep it simple here. Most consonants (D, T, K, L, P…. ) exist in multiple form. Combined with a particular vowel (A, E, I, O…. ) they form a syllable. A K plus an A makes KA – but another K plus an A makes KIE….and so on….thats enough, though……

1.Koh island in Khmer

This is the first part of the phrase and means Koh (with a short spoken vowel and a quick and explosive h). 

The whole thing consists of the consonant Gah=k, embedded in the vowel “sra-ohh”, which forms Koh – although the K-consonant is soft spoken and it actually sounds like “Gohh” – with a very quickly and explosive spoken “ohh” .  The very Khmer word for island.


koh description

the consonant “Gah ” and the vowel “ohh”


2.rong in Khmer

This means Rong the first letter is called Rouh (rolling r) r and underneath is sra(Khmer for vowel) ouh: u and the third element is the consonant ngo: g – combined it makes r…o….ng – rong


rong description

The consonant R with a u-vowel underneath, followed by one of the many N-consonants, in this case Ngou: R…o….ng =rong.

 The word “Rong” or “Rung” means either cave or it stands for someone’s name. These are the two conflicting statements of Cambodians, i ‘ve interviewed.

3.sanloem in Khmer

This means Sanloem

The first letter is the consonant Sah: s an S – next comes a combination or construct of three letters; the central consonant is Nouh: n, underneath is jing low: l (jing is a small version of a consonant – used for syllables with two consonants and one vowel, e.g. Sna or Plu…) Above the Nouh is a vowel – one of the many ou’s – in this case it becomes a sra oueh. – This central construct is N….l….oe. Finally there is the consonant Mou m – an M


sanloem description

 S…N…l…oe…M = Sanloem


OK – That’s what we’ve got – Koh Rong Sanloem…..

Sanloem means something like: far out, hard to discern (according to several islanders i asked…but also see bottom of post)

the whole thing in English might be:

Either: Cave island, which is hard to recognize

or: Mr./Ms’s island, which is hard to recognize

a lovely phrase – easy to keep in mind

  feedback and questions, tips etc to: apsarator@gmail.com

Google Translate offers Khmer now – i typed Sanloem – it was translated to: lethargy.