Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville by Minibus

It is weekend again and I decided to visit Sihanoukville once more, after I have been here only few weeks ago. I also decided to travel by public transport this time, mostly for convenience. It is too late to catch the early buses so I chose to go by minibus. Initially I go to the Central Market where I don’t find a minibus to Sihanoukville but people who show me the place from which these buses leave.

One minibus is about to leave. I pay for two seats, again for convenience (at 5$ each, which is far too expensive, which I learn later on, anyway).

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From Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville by Motorbike

After the major part of my current assignment is done I decide to spend an extended holiday in Sihanoukville. Sihanoukville (Sihanouk Ville, Kampong Som) is where the white beaches and tropical islands are. Sihanoukville is also one of the few places in Cambodia with a high concentration of tourists and this has been among the major reason why I have never been there.

Sihanoukville is about 230km from Phnom Penh. My colleagues strongly advice me to go by bus. Yet I have been looking forward to do this trip by motor bike and decide not to take the bus. It may sound trivial, but during almost one year outside Cambodia, the idea of riding motorbikes in Cambodia became almost the essence of freedom to me. In practice I find it often tiring or boring, sometimes even painful, but in principle I still greatly enjoy riding the bike and opt for it whenever I can. I am also in the privileged situation of having Toby’s bike, so it is not a difficult choice. However, riding the bike gives me also a sense of vulnerability.

There are basically two options to ride to Sihanoukville: on national road 4, which is supposed to be the best road in the country, and on national road 3 through Kampot. I choose the first option, as it is the most time efficient, and because I have been riding on national road 3 to Kampot before, but not on national road 4 beyond Kirirom National Park.

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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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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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