Bike Trip: Kirirom National Park, Kampong Speu

Today is Sunday. I have spent a busy week in the office. The schedule does not look like workload will be lower next week, so I use the chance for a bike trip to Kampong Speu (Kampong Spueu). Yesterday I took it easy, met some colleagues in private and some Cambodian friends in the evening. I go to find the Phnom Penh Bike Shop but find that it is no longer. I find the previous owner in his brother Darah’s bike repair shop and talk to both for some time. Good to meet those guys again, after more than one year.

The plan for today is to get a motorbike from Lucky Lucky and go on a trip to Kirirom National Park in Kampong Speu province. Oddly, none of my guide books has a section on Kampong Speu. Only the Lonely Planet has a paragraph on Kirirom. It says that Kirirom Mountain is 675m above sea level and about 112 km southwest of Phnom Penh. It also says that Kirirom “is not the most interesting of Cambodia’s national parks, but it is the most accessible from the capital and the scenery is notably different from the flat agricultural land that surrounds Phnom Penh, and the climate is also noticeably cooler”. While this does not sound particularly promising, at least the ‘noticeably cooler’ appeals to me. It is very hot in Phnom Penh these days, which makes working and sleeping a major problem in times.

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Last day Songkhran in Chiang Mai and back to Bangkok

Today I take it easy. I spend some time walking around in Chiang Mai and visiting some sites around town with a tuk tuk. One very unfortunate incidence is that the tuk tuk I am siting in hits hard an old man in the middle of the road. The man falls and is dragged along for some meters. The poor guy is down for about 5 minutes on the middle of the road obviously deeply shocked and probably also with immense pain. Then we manage to lead him to the roadside. An emergency team arrives after some time and takes him away.

It is afternoon when I meet Chingya again. Songkhran is still ongoing and we decide to join the water battle again. This time we take the moto. Chingya has brought a water canon. Obviously, I do not make the same mistake again and this time round I leave my camera at home.

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Doi Inthanon, hill tribe village, waterfall, Songkhran, bars in Chiang Mai, all on just one day

Today is holiday and since nobody is in the office, I decide to spend a day more like the many people who come here as tourists. The guesthouse offers a number of day trips and following the recommendation of the receptionist, I booked one of them the other day, which involves visiting Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand (2595m), as well as a close by waterfall and hill tribe village, among others. The price is about 20US$.

We start at 8 am in the morning with a mini bus. We pick up a number of other guests before we leave the town, an elderly Thai couple, a middle aged British couple who lives in Bangkok, and two Germans in the company of a young Thai lady. Then we leave Chiang Mai to the south. It takes about 2 hours from the town to the gate of the national park in which the mountain is located. The ride is comfortable, the road is pretty good and the bus is air conditioned.

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Songkhran in Chiang Mai

Today is Wednesday. As far as I know, this is also the first official day of Songkhran, the Thai New Year. In the morning I have a meeting with Helen in the office of the International Alliance. The office is outside of Chiang Mai and she has explained to me yesterday how to get there. However, it takes me more than 30 minutes to find the office. A number of children splashes significant amounts of water at me on my way through the city center. I like it, and by now I can manage to ride on the wrong side of the road.

Finally I find the office. We spent the morning with discussions. Later we leave to visit a party of indigenous peoples from Burma (Myanmar) who fled from their evil government to Thailand. Although Helen speaks Thai very well it takes us quite some time to find the place. Here I meet again with Chris, his wife, Jannie and Chingya. The party takes place in some sort of garden and there are about 40 or 50 people, including a life band. Most people are from Burma.

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