Who speaks for the local villages?
The islands of Cambodia undergo changes like never before. What is in for the local villages and communities?
Koh Tuich Village/Koh Rong
observations and conclusions: In 2008, when we and “The Dive Shop” began scouting and stayed on the place overnight for the very first time, Koh Tuich (koh means island and tuich means small; named after the tiny island around a mile to the North-East) Village on Koh Rong was very isolated. Health conditions were just terrible, the kids in particular. Fishing was the only source of income. Two in three people did not do anything. Boredom and alcoholism was commonplace… The whole village is by now a long row of guest houses. Most families have either made a good deal or they run a business themselves. Kids go to school and the general mood is good. They have adapted – surprisingly – well to the quick transformation…with WiFi routers in their roof-beams. There are lots of reasonable Farangs around, with great concepts on sustainability and environmental issues. And – in the face of it – it goes quite OK so far. Visitor numbers have risen fast and garbage disposal is working good – with respect to constantly growing volumes. Given the “mental” situation – a curious mix of official indifference vs tolerance and free entrepreneurship vs social hierarchy plus Westerners, who ridicule the latter – things are going surprisingly smooth.
The bad stuff: The village is – regularly – close to a madhouse by night – noisy parties everywhere. And hordes of Westerners to be seen – on LSD etc. – going berserk. The Villagers – still – seem to tolerate it. Certainly soon there will be the first drug-related accidents, if this is not being suppressed.
Sok San Village/Koh Rong
Sok San(paradise) Village is on the island’s western side at the northern end of the 6km long Sok San Beach. The community is presumably very much the size of Koh Tuich Village (own assessment). Tourism is still very moderate here and for the majority not much has changed. Still, the villagers are more flexible than ever because there is (at least twice) daily ferry service to the main land – probably the best thing at all – with the greatest impact on anyone’s life on Koh Rong.
Daun Penh Village/Koh Rong
It used to be older and better organized in the first place. Houses were (are) more solid and connected with wooden pathways, the place has some sort of “structure”. Residents also are engaging in well organized crab fishing and – farming. Crab sells and profits are fine. It is not clear how big NGO activities (a couple of years ago) were. Remainders of some NGO-sponsored facilities dot the fringes of the villages, such as a deserted Health-Point and a neglected Major’s-office.
Prek Svay(prek means morning and svay means mango) Village It is also situated on the eastern, inner side on a huge bay opposite “Song Saa islands Resort” and near “Palm Beach Resort”.
It is likely the stage for most bizarre encounters – the rich meets poor stuff – when visitors from Song Saa Resort (rooms rates start at $ 1000- ) feel, they should go and see the place.