Cambodia by Bike
Phnom Penh hotel
Here is a trip report of my motorcycle trip around Cambodia a couple of years ago. Taking the mini bus from Pattaya to the border was uncomfortable but uneventful, so…arriving at the border.
The woman just pointed a thermometer at my forehead to test for bird flu. Not sure how they determined if I had it, as I was hot as hell after the minibus trip.
Immigration was straightforward, and so on to Koh Kong for the first night.
Hotel was fine. Even had its set of rules.
Dinner was a bit unusual.. But the beer was good.
Ahh, that’s better…
Next morning, a bit hung over after a few beers, I arrived in Phnom Penh despite the bus breaking down and a 3-hour delay.
I stayed in California 2 guesthouse for a couple of nights to acclimatise, night spent in Sharky Bar and completed my research into my impending trip. I picked up the bike, 250cc Suzuki from Lee who I’d been chatting to for a couple of months, he helped me plan the trip, and gave me 2 SIM cards in case I needed his help at any time, when I was on the road.
So off I went, crossing the river and heading north.
Crossing the river at Kampong Cham.
I then made my way to Kratie where this woman made me dinner.
Beautiful Sunset. The Irrawaddy Dolphins inhabit this stretch of the Mekong, but I wasn’t lucky enough to see any of them.
Next day I backtracked and made my way to Sen Monorom in Mondulkiri Province. The road was terrible and under construction, so the dust was really bad. And then this happened…
Trying to stay on the road itself was hard enough and avoiding the trucks flying along was another. One truck ditched me ,so I had no choice but to choose the ditch. Shook me up a bit, and I couldn’t push the bike out of the ditch on my own as my shoulder hurt. Eventually a couple of kids went past on a step-thro so I stopped them and gave them $5 each to push the bike back on the road. Luckily it was only about 20 km to town so nervously made my way to the first hotel I saw.
And it looked like this…yup, a triangle! But it was comfortable and let me rest and check my injuries.
Nothing serious, just cuts, bruises and damaged pride! I’d taken out the best insurance I could for this trip. I knew that if I was seriously hurt, I had the back up of GPS and helicopter rescue to Bangkok. I rested next day, and walking around town I tried to meet people.
I got the other cop to take this picture. But they were friendly as were everyone I met in Cambodia. I decided that next day I would continue on my journey to Ban Lung. A trip which was half on red road and half on ox cart tracks. Can’t let a bit of pain get in the way of this.
A fill up from the pyjama lady and I’m ready to go.
The road to Kaoh Nheak was like this.
I even arrived at rush hour… After a break half way at to Kaoh Nheak I set off again into the jungle.
These hill tribe people were surprised to see me suddenly turn up. So after a brief drink stop, it was back to the jungle.
Continuing along ox cart tracks I eventually arrived pretty tired at the Srepok river which needed crossing. Luckily the locals had it sussed with this impromptu barge.
Cost a few dollars to get to the other side and so I made it to Ban Lung in Rattanakiri province. After a well earned rest and a trip to the volcanic lake I headed to Stung Treng. This road was under renovation too and what looked on the map a simple 2-hour trip, took about 4 hours.
Crazy bridge to cross.
Got to concentrate on these roads..didn’t want to take another spill. With my shoulder hurting now I chose not to have another jungle trip and so I took the paved road back to Kampong Cham and the relatively easy route to Siam Reap.
A typical service station on the way! It was February and that meant Chinese new Year, and this guest house invited me to join them in their celebration.
You guessed it…more beer !
A typical Cambodian street, I forget where. It wasn’t easy to find food that I thought I could eat when travelling so it was lucky I’d taken some tins of tuna with me from Pattaya. Thanks Big C! So, Siam Reap and I book into a great hotel at $15 a night.
Along the way I’d been paying $5 – 6 a night. But a bit of luxury won’t hurt me. So I do the tourist thing and hit the temples.
Siam Reap is amazing but easy to get temple fatigue so I just visited the 5 I had on the top of my list. Riding around the temple complex on the bike was great too, without visiting them all on foot.
Still in the Siam Reap area I happened across an orphanage. The kids beckoned me in and I played football for a while and then the kids shred their lunch with me. These kids had nothing but were so happy.
Kids loved the bike.
I just like this one, don’t know why.
Leaving Siam Reap, I hear the beach calling so I find myself on the long ride down to Sihanoukville. Passing through Battambang and Pursat then I cut across to avoid going back to Phnom Penh at this time. I chilled heer for a few days but wasn’t impressed that much.
The beach at the bottom of Victory Hill.
I stayed in a guesthouse where the owners were very friendly and recounted the horrors of the Pol Pot era to me. This was to become more evident to me when I return to Phnom Penh.
A change of scene finds me in Kampot where I went out one evening and found myself in a real opium den. Everyone except me was so stoned, alcohol being enough for me. A lad helping in the bar insisted on giving me a lift back to my hotel, me being in a state of forgetfulness! I jumped on his bike and as he drove he beeped his horn to get people to move, well on the bike he had fitted air-horns that a truck would have used. Was so funny seeing people run for cover only to see a small step-thro gently rumbling down the street.
There were no trains running in the country but some of the tracks are still in place and the locals use them sometimes using hand propelled trucks like I used to see in the old western movies when I was a kid.
And so with my month nearly up, it was time to head back to Phnom Penh.
Again the road was a like a bomb site and it took me nearly all day to get to the dirty, dusty capital city.
A couple days there sees me doing the tourist things, including S21 of course. It’s a bit grim but a must do.
What chance did anyone have with rules like this?
And of course the horrors of the killing fields to complete the story.
A last, beer filled night in Martini Bar followed with Lee and he took the just about intact bike back.
Next afternoon I was back in Bangkok with fond memories of Cambodia. The people were lovely and even when I was in very remote places I never felt threatened.
I think it will be a different place next time I visit.