Preah Vihear Second Day: Temples in Kampong Thom and Phnom Santuk

Next day is Sunday and I get up at 7:30 am, and have a shower and breakfast in the guesthouse. I ask one of the waiters whether he knows a good guide and of course he does. So I wait ten minutes and get introduced to Vothea. He is 30 years old, friendly and speaks reasonable English. While having breakfast we agree to visit the temple city of Sambor Prei Kuk and later in the afternoon travel to Phnom Santuk.

We kick of at about 9 pm, fill up the motos and ride north on a recently constructed dust road, which is in good condition. We turn left immediately after we pass the bridge. Our way leads us through fertile lowland with rice fields and a number of villages. Many people are harvesting in the field, in many cases children. Most of the time we see only the bicycles at the roadside, while people are working fare away, deep in the rice field. Sambor Pre Kuk is only about 35 km from Kampong Thom. We are riding with two bikes and moderate speed. So I have the chance to pay attention to the environment.
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Countryside

Today is Sunday. I had agreed with my colleague and friend Shelley to go on a trip into the countryside with her and her Cambodian partner Long. At about 9 am I go to the riverside and have breakfast. At 10 am I meet Shelley at her house. We spend some time and than kick of, crossing the river in the south of Phnom Penh, riding on two motos. We are heading southeast on National Road 1. And we are not in a hurry.
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Royal Palace

This is Saturday. I get up relatively late and ride to the riverside to have breakfast. Later I go to the Central Market, to buy some stuff, including clothes and a CF card reader for easier transfer of pictures from my camera to the computer. There is some sort of shopping center next to the Market, located in one of the highest and most modern buildings in town. I spend more than two hours here and actually take some nice pictures from the roof. However, due to malfunctions of the card reader I mentioned earlier I loose those pictures, which is a shame. Moreover, the card reader seems to have disabled two of my flashcards, which is particularly pitiful in the case of my only 256 MB card.

I have fast food for lunch, which is actually the first time in Cambodia I eat burger. Later I go home and still later decide to visit the Royal Palace today. I read in my guidebook that entrance and camera fee is $5 and an official guide between $2 and $4. I reach at about 4 pm. After I pay five bucks I am told by the only available guide that the costs of his service are actually $5. He studies at Norton University’s Faculty of Law. So I tell him I am a student myself and cannot afford so much money. It takes me some time to negotiate $4.
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Mondulkiri Fifth Day: Sen Monorom, Snuol, Kampong Cham, Phnom Penh

Again, we start early in the morning. For some reasons I do not get much sleep. We pack our stuff and have breakfast. Yet I do not feel like eating and seeing other people having breakfast makes me feel sick. We plan to ride all the way back to Phnom Penh, with a lunch break in Kampong Cham provincial capital. Bun Tach had warned me the other day that my front tire is broken and I need to ride carefully. In addition, we are uncertain about the state of Pongro’s bike, since it fell down many times. So we decide to go to the moto doctor before we head to Phnom Penh.

Those are my boots in the morning. They had gotten pretty wet yesterday, since they where filled with water several times when we had to cross creeks. Those are Meinl boots, equipped with a gore tex membrane which makes them water proof. Although those boots where outside all night while there where strong winds they are still pretty wet in the morning. Getting into them still feels like water is standing in them. I am somewhat surprised that it takes so long to dry those boots. And even of today, almost one week later, they are still not entirely dry, which I find quite disappointing. After all, what is the point of having water proof shows if they never ever get dry once they get water inside?


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Mondulkiri Fourth Day: Pouloung village, Sreiomboum village, Bou Sra

We get up at 7 am and have breakfast in the guesthouse, before we go to the market and buy food and water. To make sure we don’t get stuck we find a mechanic, have the oil checked and fill up the motos.

Then we head northeast to Bou Sra. We never rode north on this road before and I am surprised that right behind the first hill it is getting rougher than most we have seen yesterday. We cross a small river on an improvised bridge and are charged 500 Riel each by a bunch of kids.
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Mondulkiri Third Day: Dak Dam Village, Poutrou village, Romanear Waterfalls, Sihanouk Waterfall, Sen Monorom Waterfall, Poutang Village, Doh Kromom

I oversleep and get up only at 7:40 am. We pack our stuff, meet the guide and ride to the market to have breakfast. The guides’ name is Tina, if I got it right. He is 23 years old and Khmer from Kampong Cham. He came to Mondulkiri some years ago to help his sister running a guesthouse. Now he is involved in various aspects of the emerging tourism sector. The numbers of tourists to Mondulkiri has significantly increased with the newly build road. Yet only very rarely we see tourist during this stay in Mondulkiri.
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Mondulkiri Second Day: Kampong Cham, Snuol, Sen Monorom

I wake up the next day when Pongro is knocking on my door. It is already bright daylight. Pongro tells me he is alright. And it looks like we will proceed with the trip.

Japanese Bridge in the morning

So I go with the same moto taxi driver who was helpful yesterday to find a mechanic. After asking in a few shops we find a mechanic who is willing to take care of our bikes and claims to be familiar with big motos. So we go back to the guesthouse and later we push the motos the few hundred meters to the shop and go to a food place close by to have breakfast.


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Mondulkiri First Day: Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham

I had decided earlier this week that I would leave to Mondulkiri on Friday one way or the other. Yet as I wanted to avoid riding at night time in Mondulkiri I planned to go only the few kilometers to Kampong Cham provincial capital and continue the next day to Sen Monorom.


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Moto Cross in Kampong Spey

This is Sunday and in the morning I go at about 8:40 am to the Phnom Penh Moto Shop to rent a decent cross bike (Honda CRM two stroke), as well as suitable protection, glasses, and gloves. Next thing is I ride the bike to Dara’s Bike Shop, where I arranged to meet with Vuth and John to go on a moto cross trip. Vuth is already here but we are still waiting for John. So I hang out for some time.


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Hanging Out in Phnom Penh and Moto Cross

Today was Saturday and I though after this exhausting week I should have a lazy day. However, I have serious difficulties determining what activity would fit this intention. So I sleep long and go at about 10 am to the Java Café, which is one of my favorites at Hun Sen Park, close to the Monument of Independence. Great food, not even overpriced. One can sit on the veranda and look at the busy street. Or read the newspaper. I do both extensively.


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