With a week of holidays on the occasion of Cambodia’s Water Festival comes the prospect of a multiple day trip to the northeast, with fellow traveling enthusiasts Katrin, Becky and Toby. The overall plan is to travel Cambodia’s northeast from Phnom Penh on a loop via Kampong Cham, Kratie, Rattanakiri, Mondulkiri, Kratie, Prey Veng, Neak Luong back to Phnom Penh. Admittedly, details of the route emerge only on the flight. The only given in the plan is the part from Banlung in Rattanakiri to Sen Monorom in Mondulkiri, a stretch of forest, mountains and wilderness which we anticipate to be the most exciting part of the trip.
For today we aim only at reaching either Kratie or Stung Treng.
Continue reading Phnom Penh to Kratie along the Mekong via Kampong Cham, Wat Hanchey, Stung Tran, Chhlong
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 Phnom Penh to Bavet and Pchum Ben Day in Svay Rieng Province
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 Takeo, Angkor Borei, Phnom Da, Phnom Chisor, in the Rainy Season
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 Kampong Chnang, Floating Villages and Hill Top Pagodas
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 Kratie to Phnom Penh via Snuol, Memot, Kampong Cham, Riverbank Villages
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 Phnom Penh to Chhlong via Kampong Cham by Motorbike
Many of my colleagues are in Kampong Thom (Kompong Thom) this weekend and I decide to go there and meet up. I have been to Kampong Thom many times but until recently was not aware that there are countless temples to visit along the way, in particular between Kampong Thom town and Skuon (Skon). The plan for this weekend is to meet my colleagues in Kampong Thom and also Vothear and Sokhom, two friends and guides of mine whom I have been exploring the surrounding provinces with on a number of occasions. I am sure these people are the best guides you can find in Kampong Thom with detailed knowledge of the surrounding provinces.
Kampong Thom does not see many visitors, despite the fact that the site of the ancient capital of the Pre-Angkor kingdom of Chenla is right next to the provincial capital. The ruins of Sambor Prei Kok (Sambor Prei Kuk) cover a vast area of mostly forested land in close proximity to Kampong Thom town which is an excellent starting point for journeys into neighboring provinces also. The complex contains countless structures that are nearly 1400 years old and easily accessible even by coach. If this place was in Vietnam or Thailand it would be a sensation attracting thousands of tourists daily. Tourists who make it to Cambodia pass through Kampong Thom on their way from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh or just bypass it by aircraft. While exploring the site you will meet few tourists, if any. I have been to Sambor Prei Kuk before and my interest this time is more in these lesser known temples along the way to Phnom Penh.
Continue reading Temples along the Road from Kampong Thom to Skuon by Motorbike
This weekend I find time for only a day trip. I want to use this opportunity to explore some of those parts of the more immediate souroundings of Phnom Penh that I am less familiar with than with, say, the National Roads.
The plan is to cross the Mekong right at Phnom Penh and follow its eastern bank north towards Kampong Cham, on what is marked as “other provincial road, unpaved” in the Gekko road map. Depending on road conditions or, rather: the existence of roads, the plan is to go all the way to Kampong Cham. If that is not possible I want to go as far as it gets, cross the Mekong with a ferry if there is one and decide on the flight how to proceed.
Many tourists crossing the Japanese bridge in Phnom Penh believe that they are actually crossing the Mekong River. What they are crossing is the Tonle Sap. There is as of now only one bridge in Cambodia that spans the Mekong, which is the Japanese bridge in Kampong Cham. Interestingly, a new Mekong bridge at Neak Luong (Neak Loeang) is planned and the Japan International Cooperation Agency has completed a feasibility study on the project. Japan is now expected to start soon building this bridge. There was an interesting article in the IHT recently on this and other infracture projects in Cambodia. I copy the text below this blog article.
Continue reading Riverbank villages and Ferries north of Phnom Penh, Mekong, Tonle Sap and Phnom Udong
The plan for today is to ride from Kampot to Phnom Penh via Kep, and to visit Phnom Chissor (Phnom Chissor, Phnom Chisor, Phnom Chi Sou) in Takeo Province on the way. It is raining heavily by the time we get up. Distance and road are not a big deal but the prospect of doing this trip in strong rain is unpleasant. It keeps raining while we have extensive breakfast.
Continue reading Kampot to Phnom Penh via Kep, Takeo and Phnom Chissor
My buddy Uwe has just arrived in Phnom Penh for a joint 4 weeks Southeast Asia trip. Our somewhat ambitious plan is to start with a three day motorbike trip to Kep and Kampot in Cambodia, while our visas for Laos, Burma, Vietnam and are being processed in Phnom Penh, and later to visit all these countries in that order.
I have been to Kampot and Kep (Kaeb) a number of times (Kampot and Kep – Ein Tag am Meer, Phnom Penh to Kampot, New Year at Bokor, Caves in Kampot, Sunset in Kep, Swimming at Toek Chhou, By Motorbike from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh via Kampot), but always went on National Road 3. According to the map, National Road 31, which departs from Road 3 about half way from Phnom Penh to Kampot and leads more directly to Kep, is under construction. Contrary to the map, a number of people told us that the road has long been finished and now makes for a comfortable ride.
Continue reading Phnom Penh to Kep by Motorbike via National Roads 3 and 31
It is time for a nice and easy day trip and Becky joins me to visit Phnum Baset (Phnom Baset) which is located just about 30 km north of Phnom Penh. We also want to visit Longvaek, which is located 20 km further north and used to be the capital of Cambodia before the court moved to Udong. The plan is then to cross the Tonle Sap with the Ferry close to Udong and ride back to Phnom Penh either on National Road 6 or – if we have still time and it does not rain – to cross the Mekong with the Ferry at Praek Anhchan and ride back on the secondary road along the eastern bank of the Mekong.
Continue reading Phnum Baset, Longvaek and Becky’s Jump into Tonly Bassac River, all by Motorbike
We have breakfast in the Mittapheap Restaurant before getting on the bike. We leave on road 11 towards Neak Luong. The plan is to follow this road only for about 10-12 kilometres and then a secondary road (317) for about 25-30km to Ba Phnom (Ba Phnum, Phnom Chi-gaht). According to the Lonely Planet, Ba Phnom is one of the earliest religious and cultural sites in the Kingdome of Cambodia, dating back to the 5th century and the time of the mysterious Funan. It remained an important place of pilgrimage for kings of the subsequent empires of Chenla and Angkor and continued to be a place of spiritual significance into the 19th century, but its past conceals a darker side of human sacrifice. According to French records, human sacrifices continued into the protectorate and were only finally stamped out in 1872. The guide book also says that “It is only really worth the detour for those who have a keen interest in early Cambodian history, as for the casual visitor there is unfortunately little to see”.
Continue reading Prey Veng to Phnom Penh by Motorbike, Ba Phnom, Preah Vihear Chann, Neak Luong
This weekend it is time to go on an overnight trip to the provinces. Maraile is ready to go and we plan to visit Prey Veng and to go there via Kampong Cham. Prey Veng is not so far from Phnom Penh but not connected to any national road. Accordingly, it is said to be a very provincial and sleepy town. The road distances are from Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham 129km and from Kampong Cham to Prey Veng 80km. Prey Veng to Phnom Penh is 90km.
Continue reading By Motorbike: Phnom Penh to Prey Veng via Kampong Cham, Phnom Pros & Phnom Srei, Rubber Plantations and more
Today the plan is to go to Takeo (Takaev) again and to visit Angkor Borei and Phnom Da (Phnum Dai) with two friends: Maraile and Becky. Becky is a motorbike enthusiast while Maraile did not yet discover her passion for bikes. While I visited Angkor Borei by motorbike a few weeks ago, we want to do the trip from Takeo to Angkor Borei with the fast boat.
Continue reading Phnom Penh to Takeo by Motorbike and to Angkor Borei by Fast Boat
The plan for the next two days is to take it easy and then to go back to Phnom Penh by bus. There is not much to report here and I limit myself mostly to pictures.
Continue reading Two Days Sihanoukville: Among others: At the beach, on the island back to Phnom Penh with the ‘Big Bus’