Rattanakiri: Banlung to Virachey, Voen Sai, by Boat to Taveng, Cemetary in Kachon, Tribal Villages on the Way Back

The plan for today is ride to ride on motos from Banlung to Voen Sai at the edge of Virachey National Park (Virochey, Virachay), which is about 35km northwest from here at the banks of the Tonle San River. From there we will take a boat and follow the San River to the east to Ta Veang (Taveng, Taveaeng), taking in a Tompuon cemetary at Kachon village on the way. In Ta Veang we change transportation again and return to Banlung by moto. We travel with Lim and Loth, two great and capable chaps we met during our working days in Banlung. Lim and Lot work part time as guides in and around Rattanakiri.

If you require a guide in Rattanakiri just call Lim: 012517418.

Continue reading

Phnom Penh to Banlung, Rattanakiri via Kratie and Stung Treng, by Minibus

It is one of these rare opportunities my job provides to visit Rattanakiri, and I travel the pleasure to travel there with my colleague Phal. Not the first time, since we went there before, in 2003, to undertake interviews. The plan for today is to travel to Stung Treng via Kampong Cham and Kratie by mini bus and ideally all the way to Banlung in Rattanakiri province. I tune out the work-related aspects of this trip and report what may be interesting for the traveler.

Continue reading

Phnom Penh to Bavet and Pchum Ben Day in Svay Rieng Province

Today is a holiday, more precisely: Pchum Ben Day (Bonn Phchum Ben, P’chum Ben, Bonn Pchom Ben). It is on the occasion of this holiday that Cambodian Buddhists pay respect to the dead through celebrations and offerings that take place at wats.

The plan for today is to join one such celebration in a wat in Svay Rieng Province with my colleagues. We drive all the way to the Vietnamese border, visit the border crossing at Bavet (Moc Bai) and have a look at the casinos that have sprung up on the Cambodian side of the border. After that we join the Pchum Ben ceremony at a wat not far from the border. Visiting casinos and paying respect to the dead on the same trip seems an odd combination yet Cambodians have a great capacity to accommodate contrasts, tensions and contradictions.

Continue reading

Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Preah Vihear: Beng Mealea, Kor Ker, Kulen, Tbaeng Mean Chey by Motorbike

It is time for an extended weekend trip again. The plan is to ride from Phnom Penh to Kampong Thom today and meet up with Vothear and Sokhom, two friends of mine who are excellent guides for exploring the temples in Kampong Thom, Preah Vihear and Siem Reap.

The plan for tomorrow is to follow National Road 6 towards Siem Reap town for another 100 km or so, passing Stoung and Kouk Thlok Kraom on the way until we reach Dam Daek. From here, we follow the newly upgraded Road 66 to the north for about 30 km, until we reach Prasat Trapeang Noem, close to Beng Mealea (Boeng Mealea), an ancient temple. After visiting the temple we plan to proceed on what is a new road towards the northeast until via Svay Leu to Prasat Kor Ker (Kaoh Kerr, Chok Gargyar, Phnum Dai), another ancient temple, or rather, a complex of dozens of them. From here we continue on a more modest road and via an extensive detour through Trayang to Kulen (Koulen) and finally to Tbaeng Mean Chey (T’beng Meanchey), the provincial capital of Preah Vihear province, where we spend the night. The next day we return to Kampong Thom on Road 64 and from there I continue home to Phnom Penh.

Continue reading

Wonders Of The Northeast

The current issue of the Cambodian Scene Magazine contains an article about traveling northeastern Cambodia thaat may be of interest:

Words and photographs by Moeun Nhean

The northeast of Cambodia is the place to visit at the moment: it’s seriously green, strangely volcanic and noticeably cooler than the rest of the country. Cambodia’s Minister of Tourism H.E Lay Prahos is very excited about the area’s increasing potential—an area attracting more and more tourists.

Continue reading

Takeo, Angkor Borei, Phnom Da, Phnom Chisor, in the Rainy Season

This weekend allows for only a one-day trip and I am planning to ride with Maraile to visit Angkor Borei and Phnom Da (Phnum Dai) in Takeo (Takaev) Province. The place is said to be most beautiful and unique during the rainy season, when most of the area is submerged in water. On my previous visits (by motorbike via Phnom Chisor; by boat from Takeo town) the place was entirely dry. In strong contrast, it is definitely rainy season now and there have been extensive rain in the past weeks and even flooding in some other areas. I add some pictures from a more recent trip to Angkor Borei and Phnom Da via Phnom Chisor (Phnom Chissor, Phnom Chi Sou) below this report in the same post (by bike to Phnom Chisor in 2003, and in July 2005)

We take the motorbike to reach Takeo town and head to the riverside to find a boat. We don’t have to look for long to find one and to agree with the driver on the price (US$ 25 for the round trip). Two Khmer passengers join the ride on the fast boat to Angkor Borei.

Continue reading

Around the Tonle Sap Lake by Car: Siem Reap, Battambang

This is one of the few occasions that I am traveling Cambodia for work rather than pleasure, together with my Cambodian colleagues around the great lake. It is the first time that I am making a trip all around the Tonle Sap Lake. I tune out work related issues here and focus instead on impressions from the road starting from Phnom Penh via Kampong Thom to Siem Reap, Battambang and back to Phnom Penh via Kampong Chnang.

Continue reading

Kampong Chnang, Floating Villages and Hill Top Pagodas

The plan for this weekend is to ride with Maraile on the bike to Kampong Chnang (Kampong Chhnang), spent one night and one day there with laid back activities such as taking in some of the local sights.

We leave Phnom Penh only in the afternoon and head north on National Road 5, towards Kampong Chnang and Battambang, the former being only 91 kilometers from Phnom Penh. Guide books complain about the poor quality of this road a few years ago but nowadays the road is excellent, pretty much all the way to the Thai border. The sun is setting down after we pass Udong Mountain.

Continue reading

Phnom Penh to Kep, Kampot, Overnight on Bokor Mountain, at the Beach and back to Phnom Penh

The plan for this weekend is the following: I ride with Maraile to Kep (Kaeb) today, spend the night there and continue to Kampot, where we meet Lydia in the morning. The ladies will find a taxi and then we go visit Bokor National Park (Preah Monivong National Park) and the hill station on Bokor Mountain (Phnum Bouk Kou). We want to spend the night in the ranger station on top of the mountain, in the abandoned resort town, maybe visit the waterfall the next day before riding down again. After a short visit at the beach close to the National Park, Maraile and Lydia will continue to Kep and Rabbit Island while I will return home to Phnom Penh.

I start with Maraile only in the afternoon, since we just want to make it to Kep today and spend the night there. Since the rides on national roads are not particularly interesting I report the whole trip in one post. In fact I have been to Kampot and Bokor many times, first in September 2003 with Toby and Katrin, for the New Year Party on the mountain in 2004 (I, II) including visits to Kampot’s caves and Toek Chhou (Tek Chou), on the way from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh, and most recently with my buddy Uwe (I, II, III)

Continue reading

Kratie to Phnom Penh via Snuol, Memot, Kampong Cham, Riverbank Villages

The plan for today is to ride from Kratie back to Phnom Penh. We decided to go follow the National Road 7 through Snuol, Memot (Memout), Suong and Chob to Kampong Cham. From Kampong Cham to Phnom Penh we want to give the dirt road along the Western bank of the Mekong a try.

The Adventure Cambodia guide book has a ‘Phnom Penh to Kratie’ motorcycle info section:

“If you are going to Kratie from Phnom Penh, the road to Kampong Cham is excellent, the road from Kampong Cham to the Snuol junction isn’t that great, but it’s definitely doable. The last section taking you to Kratie from Snuol has some huge bomb craters that fill up and look like lakes during the rainy season, but it’s also doable; you’re just going to get wet.”

Well, it is definitely rainy season right now but times have changed, and not only recently.

Continue reading

Chhlong to Kratie by Motorbike and Various Boats, Sambor, Irrawaddy Dophins, Phnom Sambok

The plan for today is to get from Chhlong (Chloung) to Kratie town and later to visit the Irrawaddy-Dolphins north of Kratie in the Mekong River and some other local highlights depending on road conditions and time availability. We get up relatively early, check out, get on the bike and ride as far as we can get, which is only a few hundred meters. We find a man with a boat who is willing to give us a ride of 5 km or so towards Kratie until we can proceed on a solid road. The ride takes us in early daylight through spectacularly flooded landscape. I blend Maraile’s and my own photos.

Continue reading

Phnom Penh to Chhlong via Kampong Cham by Motorbike

For this weekend Maraile and I have been planning to visit Kratie province, for a number of reasons among them the fact that much of the province is flooded right now. The plan for today is to leave in the afternoon and spent the night either in Kampong Cham, Kratie or Chhlong (Chloung) depending on how far we get. Saturday we want to spend in Kratie province and return at some point on Sunday to Phnom Penh.

Continue reading