(Written in 2006, recently revised)
Thirty years on and he knew the coast of south-west Cambodia like the back of his hand. And what a coast it was. Lush jungle covered islands of different sizes and shapes, some of them no more than big outcrops of rock, others taking minutes for our boat to pass.
On the horizon behind the islands was the mainland, wild jungle covered mountains sweeping down into long stretches of white beach lapped by aqua blue ocean.
He pointed out each island, told me its Cambodian name, and gave a short explanation about it.
See that one over there?
You could stay on that island for as long as you like, there’s plenty of water and fruit.
See that one there?….yeah its big ok, but there’s not much water on it so you know, you could only stay there a night or two.
See that one there, the one that sticks up like a building?
There’s a big reef alongside it, under the water, but you’d never put a net down there, the bottom’s real bad you know, lots of sharp rocks and potholes, tear up your net like knives…’