Our Encounter with a Buffalo in Koh Rong Samloem, Cambodia

I was in that weird twilight place, right in between being awake and asleep, when I heard something outside our bungalow (pictured above) and then suddenly nothing. The strangest part was that the jungle was completely silent. On all of our nights, the creatures/insects in the jungle were boisterous throughout the entire night. This was our third night sleeping right on the edge of a jungle, so I was used to strange animal noises. This was something different.

I might’ve been able to ignore it if Pete hadn’t whispered,

“It sounds like something’s right outside our bungalow.”

My whole body went rigid. First of all, I was shocked Pete was awake – he always falls asleep before me, so this noise must’ve woken him up. Second of all, those words scared the bejesus out of me, because he was right, and he sounded unsettled. Something was moving around very close to our bungalow.

I was so scared that I didn’t say a word. I just slowly reached out and tensely grabbed Pete’s hand. The noises were getting louder – heavy footsteps, cracking branches, brushing leaves, and…wait, was that the sound of something eating flesh?

My mind started to think of worst-case scenarios.

“What do you think it is?”, I finally whispered back.

“Something big,” Pete said. I shivered despite the heat.

The noises continued to get louder until it (whatever it was) was so close to our bungalow that it was brushing up against the back wall, the same wall our bed was pushed against. Crack! Crunch! Chomp! I put my hand over my mouth as my eyes widened in the dark to contain any noises that escaped.

“Should we turn on the lights?…No, I don’t want it to be able to see us. Do you think it’s a human?” I was in full freak-out mode. This is the stuff horror movies are made of, I thought; traveling couple stays in remote bungalow near the jungle; gets taken and eaten by some crazy, blood-hungry jungle beast/human/creature.

“No,” Pete reassured me, “it’s not a human. A human wouldn’t be making this much noise.” I’m not sure if that made me feel better or worse.

Not quite the same, but here's a pic we took of a buffalo in Tanzania
Not quite the same, but here’s a pic we took of a buffalo in Tanzania

“Should we go out there?” I knew he’d say no, but at this point I thought it might be better to take an offensive strategy. You know, in case this is a horror movie scenario, and least we’d be brave?

Pete reassured me that our bungalow was very sturdy and that nothing could get in. Except then he thought about it and said, “Well, it might be able to get through the glass door, but only if it really tried.” Great. Naturally, this prompted a discussion of what weapons we had in our premises to use in our defense. Our best one? The fan. Oh, and maybe the curtain rods, if we got to them in time.

The chewing and cracking noises continued for another 10 minutes before we started to hear other animals again. At this point, our adrenaline was pumping and we could not sleep. 20 minutes later, the jungle went silent and the whole thing happened for a second time… I couldn’t believe it.

There is no way I’m getting any sleep tonight, I thought. And I was right.

The next morning, I was extremely eager to check out the scene and uncover the mystery. Even though the early morning rain washed away any potential evidence around our bungalow, Pete found some hoof-prints in the sand underneath our bungalow. At breakfast, we explained to our waiter that we heard a loud animal right outside our bungalow in the middle of the night.

Without any hesitation, he replied, “Buffalo.”

Pete and I looked at each other with shock & awe; we felt vindicated and happy we didn’t go outside to confront it!

Our waiter explained there is a farmer who let his water buffalo roam free on the island before it became more tourist-centered. Now, the farmer is trying to locate all of his buffalo to bring them back to the main land, since they present a danger to tourists, but has been having a very hard time due to the dense jungle.

saracen bay resort
Saracen Bay restaurant

Our waiter told us how one night, months ago, he saw heads slowly gliding across the water in the moonlight in front of the hotel and thought they were crocodiles, but later discovered they were water buffalo. I think his experience may have been more frightening than ours; at least we didn’t encounter a pack!

Have you ever had a crazy animal encounter, or been freaked out in the middle of the night?

4 Comment

  1. Janice THOMPSON says: Reply

    Other than the raccoon that ate thru our cooler in the middle of the night at Devil’s Lake to get at the chocolate bars meant for our Smores? I supposed we had the tent poles, I just kept thinking how thin the tent walls were and happy when he lumbered away 😉

    1. Brittany says: Reply

      That was terrifying too! Our sleeping situation was much more fragile than a wooden bungalow that night…

  2. Haha! This is actually so crazy because I just got back from spending a few days on Koh Rong Samloem on a tour with Globe Drifters & also stayed at Saracen Bay Resort. We were walking back from that crazy nightclub in the middle of the jungle to our bungalow around midnight w/ just cell phone flashlights & saw some huge black figures in the dark on the beach. I thought I was drunk, but it was a huge group of those buffalo! Was a big male w/ huge horns & he came toward us making whatever noise buffalo make, so we sprinted really far into the water b/c we didn’t know what else to do! Eventually he backed off & we slowly made it back to our bungalow. Not gonna lie…I peed b/c I was so freaked out! Had to search Google to find out what they were since that part of the island is so dark at night and we couldn’t tell what they were!
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    1. Brittany says: Reply

      No way! We heard about that night club…sounds like a trip! I think I would’ve peed too. Actually there’s a 100% chance that I would’ve. I’m glad I helped you solve the mystery!

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