The plan for today is to get up early, visit the temples again and leave to have breakfast at the bottom of the mountain. From here, I have the priviledge of Vothea’s company for another hour, before we go separate ways. Vothear will continue to Tbaeng Mean Chey and Kampong Thom. I intend to travel to Anlong Veng, the very last stronghold of the Khmer Rouge. I hope to visit Pol Pot’s grave and other relevant places today and continue all the way to Siem Reap, before I travel back to Phnom Penh the tomorrow.
We get up at about 5:30, have coffee and get ready to leave. Some time later we leave, when it is still dark, and climb up all the steps to temples on top of the mountain.
Continue reading Preah Vihear Seventh Day: Preah Vihear Temples to Anlong Veng
I am the last one to wake up this day and I ride with Paul to the local mechanic to have my exhaust pipe reattached. Later we go with Gerry, Vothea and Mr. Slim to a local food place and have coffee. Gerry and companion want to visit a temple close by since it is not too far to Prey Vihear I agree with Vothea to join them, before we head to Preah Vihear in the afternoon. He quickly finds a local guide to show us the way.
We leave the town to the north and after we pass some open land with sandy roads we are back on the oxcart trail. Vothea is traveling with the guide on his moto while Gerry is sitting on the back of Paul’s bike and the equipment is on Mr. Slim’s bike. When we have to pass an obstacle along this muddy water Vothea’s bike gets stuck and he and the bike fall. This is the first time I see him dropping his bike. Moreover, he is the only one not traveling on a dirt bike and only because of him we recognize how difficult this passage is. So I feel sorry that it is here where he falls in front of everybody.
Continue reading Preah Vihear Sixth Day (Christmas Day): Choam Khsant, another temple, Preah Vihear Temples
We get up at about 7 am and following some breakfast we head of. Vothear is convinced we can make it all the way to Choam Khsant but I remain skeptical. As soon as we leave Khvav to the north the dirt road turns into oxcart trails again.
We continue riding those trails. First we pass sandy stretches through open landscape. Later we ride through dense forest forcing us to duck from the branches of trees and follow the tight turns of the trail. We do not think of having breaks, as we want to catch up with the initial schedule.
Continue reading Preah Vihear Fifth Day (Christmas Eve): Khvav, Sraryang Village, Prasat Kaoh Ker (Koh Ker), Choam Khsant
It is at about 4 am when cocks start their noisy business. The village is getting busy when it is still dark. We get up at about 7 am and have breakfast, fish and rice, which is tasty.
Later we head out to see another temple of the Prasat Bakan complex, Prasat Domrei (temple of the elephants). Vanna and his friend give us company and the four of us ride on two motos. Vanna is traveling with Vothear and it is actually the first time I am not alone on my moto. I felt I do not want to risk other people’s health or live. However, it turns out not to be too difficult, although the road is pretty rough and sandy. After about 20 minutes we arrive at the temple, which is located at a beautiful lake. This is the first pyramid shaped temple I see.
Continue reading Preah Vihear Fourth Day: Prasat Domrei, Khvav Village, Kampong Kdei
I met Vothea at 8 am in front of the guesthouse. This is the plan for the next three days. We follow National Road 64 to the north, until we reach Phnom Dek (a village which is not in my map). This is about 75 km from Kampong Thom. From here we turn east, following the oxcart trail to Ta Seng Village and Prasat Bakan (both places are in my map). After we spend the night in Ta Seng we continue north to Kulen and then to Prasat Kaoh Ker. After spending the night in Kulen we attempt to go further north to Prasat Preah Vihear, the best known temple in the province with the same name, next to the Thai border. I should mention other than road 64 there are no roads in my map. I was told the other day this way is adventurous and many people failed to make it with a big moto. I am advised to go on somebody else’s moto scooters’ back. And none of my guidebooks indicates that it is possible to go to those places on a road other than 64, or without hitting Tbaeng Mean Chey. Rather, most books suggest getting to those destinations on one or multiple day trips from the provincial capital. Yet Vothear and his friend Sokhom seem to be trustworthy and experienced. So I decide to try it.
Continue reading Preah Vihear Third Day: Kampong Thom, Phnom Dek, Ta Seng, Prasat Bakan
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.
Continue reading Preah Vihear Second Day: Temples in Kampong Thom and Phnom Santuk
I get up at 7:30 am. The plan is to have breakfast at riverside and buy some stuff in the market before heading to Preah Vihear.
Continue reading Preah Vihear First Day: Kampong Thom
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.
Continue reading Countryside
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.
Continue reading Royal Palace
I should have mentioned that I moved into another accommodation. Even before I went to Mondulkiri I was talking to Katrin on the phone. Katrin has been working in Cambodia and is in Germany by now. Katrin’s partner is Toby from Canada who has been working in Cambodia for a number of years. He is currently in Germany, too.
Continue reading New Place
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?
Continue reading Mondulkiri Fifth Day: Sen Monorom, Snuol, Kampong Cham, Phnom Penh
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.
Continue reading Mondulkiri Fourth Day: Pouloung village, Sreiomboum village, Bou Sra
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.
Continue reading Mondulkiri Third Day: Dak Dam Village, Poutrou village, Romanear Waterfalls, Sihanouk Waterfall, Sen Monorom Waterfall, Poutang Village, Doh Kromom
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.
Continue reading Mondulkiri Second Day: Kampong Cham, Snuol, Sen Monorom
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.
Continue reading Mondulkiri First Day: Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham