I met Katrin a couple of times, who is consultant and works on indigenous land rights. Once I met her with Dietmar who is on a South East Asia backpack like tour. As it happens, Katrin has some passion for big motos and a friend who is into motos, too. Dietmar wants to travel to the south and see Sihanoukville. So we thought it would be a good idea to travel to Kep over the weekend, which is a small town at the ocean.
We start with a breakfast at the Foreign Correspondence Club (FCC), which is a place that is at the riverfront, sort of expensive frequented by foreigners who can afford it l to hang out here.
This one is taken from the balcony at the backside of the FCC to the east. On the opposite side of this square is the National Museum. The building to the left is most likely among what remains from the French. In the center is a place where people play soccer in the morning and evening.
After the breakfast it takes us some time to get our bags together and fix them to those motos. We are four persons and travel with three motor bikes. Tobi, Katrin’s friend is the most experienced driver and takes Dietmar. And we distribute the bags nicely among the three bikes.
We are not in a hurry and once in a while we have a break. At this point one of the bags had loosened and we lost one of the rain jackets. However, when we stopped this Cambodian guy stops as well to hand over the jacket which he had apparently collected for us on the road. This is characteristic for this particular sense of honesty among the majority of Cambodians. Some Cambodians keep telling me I should not trust the people on the ground. However, my experience is that people are extraordinarily honest and have never disappointed my trust.
At this point we have still about 2 hours to go to Kampot. The road is in a good shape, there is actually not so much traffic and driving is a very enjoyable affair under these conditions.
This is about half an hour before we arrive in Kampot. The landscape as well as the climate appears to be significantly different from Phnom Penh. There are a number of mountains which are covered with forest. It is cooler compared to Phnom Penh and the closer we get to the coast the more it looks like it will rain soon.
In the foreground is bridge in Kampot and in the background some of those mountains. It seems to be raining over there.
This is the Marco Polo guesthouse, where we have a drink. They have excellent pineapple milkshakes. However, we decide not to stay in Kampot but to go to Cape, which is a town abound half an hour from here. We try to call a guesthouse or hotel their and use any of the numbers provided in three recently published tourist guide books. However, none of them works out. So we decide to go there rather sooner, find accommodation and have some sort of lunch.
Once we arrive there it does not take us long to find a hotel with rooms for $6 which are nice and clean. This is located directly at the sea. It would be wrong to say at the beach, because at this point there really is nothing like a beach. We have only a short break and then go to a place at the coast where there really is a beach. In addition there a small huts where one can sit and order food. For obvious reasons the local specialty is seafood.
This is when we order. We are lucky that Toby speaks Khmer quite well. So ordering becomes an affair of long consultation, recommendation and negotiation.
Possible locations to have food include on the beach, on the grounds on the street or in those huts. In either option one is sitting those mats. We choose the hut, because it is about to rain.
We are lucky that we managed to get here without having to cope with rain. Shortly after we sit down in this hut it starts raining, which involves strong winds. At the same time it is about to get dark. This picture is taken with longer exposure times out of the hut. Upfront is the road, behind the roach the beach and next to the beach the sea.
We are very hungry and we have ordered all sorts of food. This includes crab and shrimps, fish soup, all sorts of vegetable and rice as well as roasted chicken.
Altogether this meal is a time consuming affair and by the time we finish it is dark. There is a statue close by which pictures naked women. Those statues are rare in Cambodia.
This is the statue. From this perspective it looks sort of obscene.
This is at the backside.
Some people apparently cannot but climb it.
And some people take a call wherever they are.
However, we enjoy ourselves.
Shortly after that Dietmar and I kick of with two of the bikes to leave the couple alone. Our departure involved a funny choreography: the statue is located on a base in the water and can be reached via some sort of bridge. This bridge is fairly narrow and there is water at both sides. At the same time those motos where parked in a way that we had to turn them. .so apparently both of us tried to avoid starting the moto but prefer to sit on it and push it back and forth. This must have looked really funny and Katrin and Toby freaked out entirely.
We went back to the hotel to get some drinks and hang out in some hammocks which are located directly at the beach. Later we went to sleep.
This is the view from our window at the sea in the morning of the next day.
The hammocks I just mentioned are located in those huts.
Again we spend considerable time with having food. However, it is weekend and all of us where looking for the chance to recover from something.
Than we decide to go to the beach. However, we find a place where a trip to Rabbit Island is offered. We find the idea of visiting an island instead of the beach along the road appealing. Before we leave to the island we go to the local market to buy some fruits.
Then we go to the place where the boat is waiting. Those children are playing with a dead water snake.
Then we depart to the island. At this point it is about to start raining.
In the beginning of this 20 minutes ride it starts raining. Furthermore, it does not look like it will stop raining soon. Quite the opposite: it appears that more rain is coming. And this is infact what happened. In addition there is strong wind and some waves. However, that does not spoil the good mood on board.
This is shortly before we reach Rabbit Island.
Although there is not much beach in sight I thought this is a beautiful island. It is still raining when we arrive.
At the place where we reach the island there is a stable and rather wealthy house which might serve as some sort of guest house. Under the house a number of locals is playing pool.
We learn that the beach is on the other side of the island. So we go there to see it, while it is still raining.
After a short walk of about ten minutes we arrive at the beach, while it is still raining.
We decide to go for a swim. After that we hang out for some time on a bamboo rack at the beach. It is still raining. This does not bother us much since we are wet anyway. However, the rain is getting stronger.
This is one of the huts that is build close to the beach.
After some time we decide to go to this hut and wait for the rain to become weaker.
However, the rain does not become weaker.
Quite the opposite. The rain is getting stronger and it is storming.
I sort of like windsurfing and naturally I am always looking for spots and opportunity to go for it. Infact I experienced on many occasion that it is not that easy to find spots with daily strong wind and this looks like a cool opportunity, regardless of the rain.
So we decide to move into the hut.
We spend about one hour in this hut before the rain is getting weaker. We use the chance to move back to the boat. After all, we still want to arrive in Phnom Penh before it is dark.
A chance for the last shots on the spot. Behind those palm trees is the beach.
There appears to be dense vegetation on this island.
When we arrive at the boat it is still raining.
For the animals around here it is time for lunch.
We leave with the boat to the main island.
It is still raining and we are still in a good mood.
When we arrive at the mainland it is not raining anymore. We ride back to the hotel. When we pass the short band of beach at the road it is crowded with mostly local peoples going for a swim and having food.
We have lunch at the hotel. This is a slow process but we have time because it is raining again.
Then it stops raining and we kick off. We ride back to …. Dietmar has decided to stay here and travel to Sihanoukville alone, where he intends to meet a friend. We do not manage to convince him to travel back to Phnom Penh. Even though Dietmar forgot his teva sandals in Phnom Penh while the remaining pair of shoes was wet we failed to persuade him.
This is the place where we say bye to Dietmar. Than we drive to the petrol station and fill up the motos for the journey back. At this point it is already impossible to reach Phnom Penh before it is dark. At the same time those moto’s lights are not very bright and do not contribute much to safety.
However, now we are three people on three motos which allows for fast traveling. The way we are riding those motos cannot but be considered speeding. I actually think we are reinforcing each others bad driving behavior. So we are driving quite fast on this narrow road, passing all the other vehicles.
It is worth mentioning that all of us have the same type of motor bike, which is a Honda Degree. Compared to the bikes I rented earlier this one is lower and lighter, but it still has a powerful 250 ccm engine. To have a low and light bike is a practical thing because it allows to easier control the bike where there is mud, water and potholes on the road.
Later on there is a wider road with fewer potholes that allows for even faster speeding. We keep speeding and have only very few breaks to fix the bags properly to the bikes.
This is when it is getting dark. At this point it is still more than a one hour drive to Phnom Penh. However, we cannot continue driving like before. The power of the light of this sort of moto is rather limited and does not allow to really recognize what is going on on the road. At the same time all types of people, animals and things are on the street. In particular, people still keep traveling with ox carts and other vehicles without light. So we have to drive very carefully from here.
When we reach the better roads of Phnom Penh we can go faster again. After this long and tough ride I feel very comfortable with the moto and enjoy riding in fast in town. Lucky lucky is already closed and I decide to give back the moto tomorrow. For the time being we hang out in a new bar close to the national museum. At one point I visit one of the pizza restaurants at the riverside to pick up some happy herbs. We have some drinks before we go home.