From Kaoh Nheak to Sen Monorom in Mondulkiri

The plan for today is to ride from Kaoh Nheak to Sen Monorom, where we want to spend the next night before heading back to Phnom Penh. This is the second part of our trip from Rattanakiri to Mondulkiri through forest and mountains. We get up fairly early and have breakfast, before we hit the trail again.


Village in the early morning

Myself in the early morning

Breakfast in the neighbors’ house, in the company of a pig. We are lucky again as it is a sunny and dry day.

We visit the local school after breakfast and are delighted to find a new building with a teacher and two full classes, remarkable given the remoteness of the place and the overall state of education in rural Cambodia. We learn that children in this class have four different mother tongues.

Two of the villagers tell us that they are traveling in the same direction and are kind enough to show us the way.

After a few minutes the trail is getting challenging, fairly steep on some streches and still wet in shadowy places.

First break

Another break

This happened when I lean too much on my moto

Small village along the way

In another village, with a big logo of the ruling party CPP. We see few, if any, signs of the opposition party.

We reach a river. Luckily there is a ferry.

Here is how it works: You ride the bike carefully onto the ferry, keep seated and balance the bike while the ferryman walks the boat through the river the other bank. There is a rope put up between both banks to hold on to and keep the boat on track.

Becky and ox cart driver, looking at each other in mutual fascination.

Yet another village. A billboard informs about a WWF supported project in this area. Toby works for WWF and is familiar with the project, so we stop for some time and he talks with the people.

Local children

Toby with local staff of WWF supported project.

After some time we reach this bridge, which has a sharp bend right in its middle. We decide to have a break.

Right now there is little water in the river

Under the bridge: The construction does not look particularly trustworthy.

From here the track gets somewhat tougher.

Becky fall and her leg got stuck under the moto.

Katrin right after falling into the mud.

Nice spot for falling.

We continue riding until we hit a very nice, recently upgraded dirt road.

Becky kissing the ground and thanking the gods for sending this marvelous road.

From here it is only about half an hour to Sen Monorom.

Filling some more gas into the tank in order not to get stuck on the last few kilometers.

Road under construction

We reach Sen Monorom and ride straight to the Long Vibol Guesthouse. I have spent some nights here when I came to Sen Monorom about two years ago. I reported this trip here, here and there.

We visit a local restaurant to have diner and beer before going to bed early.

6 thoughts on “From Kaoh Nheak to Sen Monorom in Mondulkiri”

  1. Great pics and report, Stefan.. I really envy you. You’ve been to the most unexplored parts of my country.. What a shame for a Cambodian like me! 🙂 Can’t wait to read more.

  2. Hi Stefan,

    Great stories and pictures, we are coming to cambodia in july and august staying with a friend in phnom penh and looking to see some of the amazing places that you have seen.

    I would like to ask you some more about your bike trips, and noticed that you hadn’t been travelling too much in July/August, is this because the wet season makes it difficult to travel by motorbike?

    If you could recommend any trips that you think would be possible on a dirt bike during this period we would appreciate your help – even better if you are planning one and don’t mind some australian company then that would be awesome!

    If you get the chance send me an email.

    Thanks! Damian & Kylie

  3. Hi Damian and Kyle,

    I would so much love to go on a moto trip with you guys. However, I am in Canada and will return to Cambodia only in Spring 2007.

    I usually posts my trips a few weeks later, so that few posts don’t necessarily indicate few travels at a time. July/August is rainy season indeed, and this does limit your options for bike trips. It rarely rains the entire day but it basically does rain every day, so on each day there will be less time for riding. More importantly, the daily rain profoundly transforms dirt road and sometimes basically makes them indistinguishable from the rice fields next to them.

    All this does not at all mean that there are no trips you can do by bike. You will just need to plan for more time, there are fewer places you can travel to and there is more uncertainty involved as to whether you will be able to reach those places. Basically, all trips along paved national roads should not be a problem. In contrast, forested and mountainous countryside areas in the north and southwest are not an option, or at least not very appealing ones.

    Maybe you could indicate the duration of trips you want to make. One of my favorite day trips is to Angkor Borei and Phnom Da, ride to Takeo town and take a fast boat there, the whole area is flooded and its beautiful.

    I suggest you get back to me with more detail as to what kind of trips you are looking for.


  4. Stefan,

    After reading more of your posts I am very glad that I found your website, I hope to do at least some of the journeys you have described so well.

    Kylie & I are in Cambodia for nearly three weeks and are planning on travelling to the following:
    (This first part I want to do on a dirtbike)
    – Sihanoukville (Perhaps across to Koh Kong as a little detour if possible)
    – Up to Bokor Hill Station
    – Kampot & Kep
    – Takeo (then do a detour out to Angkor Borei and Phnom Da as you suggested)
    – Then back to PP
    (From here I think we will have to take buses and boats given the wet season)
    – PP to Kratie
    – Kompong Cham
    – Kompong Thom
    – Siem Riep (Angkor Wat) – may hire bike and do a day trip from here
    – Back to PP via boat to see a different part of cambodia

    I think we will take 4-6 days to do the bike loop down south and then 6-8 days to do the Kratie/Siem loop, if possible after the northern trip we will hire a bike again and do another day trip or two.

    Can you recommend a place in PP from which to hire a good bike, I have read that there is a number of places to hire, but the quality of the bikes varies a lot.

    Thanks for your help with our trip.


    Damian and Kylie

  5. Hello there

    since i live in USA so many years i felt it time for me in returning to Cambodia and i will move to Mondulkiri and hoping to teach English and Math in Those rural. and i need to refreshing my reading and write in khmer and maybe i can teach those children and share my experience since i left Cambodia for so many years. I felt it time for me to catch-up what i missing in life in Cambodia. Looking forward for my future in Cambodia.

    I felt great seen the country side

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