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Cambodia on two wheels

by | Nov 21, 2014 | Asia, Cambodia, Travel Stories | 0 comments

On a sunny day in the city of Pattaya, Thailand, outside the Seamen´s  Church in Thap Praya 7 Alley – we stacked up our 5 bikes on a car trailer in the early AM and set course for the Cambodian border at Krong Paoy Paet. For the next seven days of September 2014, we would be making our way to Siem Reap to see the beautiful temples of Angkor Wat, go down lucid rivers in “luxurious” riverboats, and then head back to the Thai border at Phsar Prum – if it was possible… But first came the planning and some serious R&R to get ready for the trip. Let´s get ready for Cambodia on two wheels!

Pic 1-4: Getting ready for a long trip with some sun, tan and surf!

The trip was planned in detail before we left town, but many things were still uncertain. Updated info on the Cambodian suburbs are hard to find, so we had to leave a few things to chance. Like finding a place to sleep in small towns not on the maps…

Pic 1: Just two guys being cool.
Pic 2: Making preparations with Jarle, Ann-Karin, Åge, Hansi (my dad – taking the picture) and myself.
Pic 3: Bikes stacked and ready, on our way to the Cambodian border.
Pic 4: Some interesting sights at the marketplace by the border.

We unloaded our bikes and equipment in Aranya Prathet – a Thai city right by the Cambodian border. This place is known for it´s crazy marketplace and cheap second-hand stuff. The quality of living here was quite different from other places I´ve seen in Thailand, way poorer and way dirtier. But charming in it´s own way. We spent a a day here getting our paperwork in order so that we could get an early start next morning.

The goal for the first day was Kralanh – 120 km.

Pic 1: After long hours in a car we finally arrived our starting point – Aranya Prathet.
Pic 2: Checkin´ out the shopping at the Thai side of the border. Crazy cheap, crazy stuff…
Pic 3: Suit up! Group shot before we head out. Turned into a paparazzi shoot as a bunch of tourists wanted a shot as well. Famous yo!
Pic 4: Crossing over into Cambodia after a fairly confusing customs-process… This is halfway through, which is kindof like a freezone between Thailand and Cambodia where casinos are allowed.

Pic 1: The Border Control, kinda hard to spot in all the craziness going on. There was also a big fire going on here!
Pic 2: Got something to declare, mister? Fun looking at all the stuff going on.
Pic 3: Crossing the Cambodian border was confusing at best. But luckily there were no problems.
Pic 4:  Finally on the road, now we were just HOPING to find a place to sleep in the first town on the trip.
Pic 5: Half the trip done for the day and we stopped for a great meal in Krong Serei. Little did we know this would be the last decent meal in a long long time…

At our stop in Krong Serei we were given mixed information on Kralanh – Some said there was a small motel there, others said it was closed for business. Guess we would have to chance it. After leaving Krong Serei we ran into a harsh storm – it was monsoon season after all, so we were prepared for it. What put a damper on the mood though was getting flat tires and not finding anywhere to stop for drinks. My father ended up catching a ride with a local teacher when we ran out of tools, and he was to scout Kralanh for a place to sleep. Luckily he found one!

Pic 1: The stops were always interesting, so many things to look at and try out.
Pic 2: A bad storm hit us, and it suddenly got real wet…
Pic 3: Stopped at an abandoned school to fix my Dad´s flat tire. Good having a bike mechanic on the trip.
Pic 4: At last, we reached Kralanh! My Dad had already organized everything as he was forced to catch a ride the last bit due to a broken tire.

Pic 1: Me and my buddy, beaver.
Pic 2: Happy we finally reached Kralanh, not so happy about the quality of the food… Fried rice with more bones than we could chew. 
Pic 3: Looking for a bar, we came across this statue – which was the only thing lit up in the entire town after dark.rbs.
Pic 4: 
As long as there´s beer, there´s hope.

Next stop: Siem Reap and the awesome Angkor Wat!

Leaving Kralanh we set path for one of the ancient world´s true wonders; The magnificent temples of Siem Reap, commonly referred to as Angkor Wat. We had about 80km to go before we would reach Siem Reap, but more importantly at the moment was finding a place to eat breakfast. The sugar-high from the cookies and chips were not gonna last forever…

Pic 1: Åge found a fellow football supporter. Made his day.
Pic 2: People were always happy to meet some weird white people on their bikes. The smiles of the children could melt an iceberg
Pic 3: Back on the road – if we can call it that…
Pic 4: Many small stops along the road to quench our thirst on some local drops.

Pic 1: Don´t forget to stretch! Getting pretty stiff in the legs.
Pic 2: Long days on the road will do that to ya…
Pic 3: Meals on wheels.
Pic 4: 
Unfortunately my Dad´s bike didnt hold for long and he had to hitch a ride to Siem Reap.

We finally reached our much anticipated destination of Siem Reap, excited to spend a couple nights in this exciting backpacker haven. We were “finally” back in tourist-territory, and we met people from all over the world when we hit the town at night. Oh, and the beer was 50c a pint… 

Pic 1: Finally reached our hotel in Siem Reap after a long hot day, with little to no food.
Pic 2: First things first, a milkshake by the pool! Priorities…
Pic 3: I could spend hours in this thing…
Pic 4: 
The tourist twins ready to hit the town!

Pic 1: Åge is orchestrating the cleaning of the bikes.
Pic 2: Some luxury doesnt hurt…
Pic 3: On our way to downtown Siem Reap!
Pic 4: Åge´s smile, enough said…

Pic 1: So many great little getaways and bars in this town! Definitely coming back here some day.
Pic 2: At night the town was lit up by some beautiful lights all over. This is of a bridge over a river.
Pic 3: Foot-massage, my favorite.
Pic 4: Some politically correct posters for sale around… 

Angkor Wat – Wonders of the earth!

Next morning, after a couple drinks too many the night before, we went back in time and conquered the Angkor Wat and it´s surrounding temples. I have never witnessed any masterpiece in architecture more impressive than these temples. Nothing short of astonishing how they managed to erect these magnificent buildings centuries ago without the tools we have available today. Heck, I don´t think we could even do this today!

This had been on my Dad´s bucket list for a long time, so it was nice to see him exploring the sights with a big grin on his face.
Jarle also got a friend – a little kid trying to sell him a postcard followed him for about 30 minutes. 
Angkor what was absolutely amazing! 

The River Cruise from hell

After spending some time at the amazing temples and a couple nights in Siem Reap, we continued our journey further south. We were going on a “river cruise” – where “cruise” was was more literal than symbolical as we barely moved down the river in almost negative speed, in a boat packed to its full capacity (and more) for 7 long hours. Great scenery made up for the agonizing buttpain from the plastic benches and the upset stomachs from lack of proper nutrition (or too much alcohol the night before). 

Pic 1: Loading up the bikes on tuk tuk´s to get to the ferry in time.
Pic 2: At this moment we thought we would have the ferry for ourselves… Little did we know.

Pic 1: I´m sure we could fit a couple more in there somewhere…
Pic 2: Occasional rain and winds gave us some tough fights with our ponchos.
Pic 3: The perks of being the first on board – we had the front seat and a place to lay down.
Pic 4: Our only stop during the 7 hour trip was at this small floating shop in a floating village.

Battambang City – A steak with a view

Seven hours and a major butt-rash later we reached Battambang City. This place was a pure contrast from Siem Reap as there were nearly nothing going on in the street, but it made for a good relaxing place to walk around and look at the people there. The hotel was great and they served a delicious steak that went straight home to my heart and stomach.

Pic 1: The welcome committee in Battambang, not annoying at all when getting the bikes off the boat…
Pic 2: Great view from the hotel roof-restaurant.
Pic 3: The troop, made it this far – now ready for the last and final stretch!
Pic 4: A fabulous steak! Mm mmm. Although it went in the mouth and came right out the other side… 

Back to Thailand – The prettiest stretch

Leaving Battambang behind, we set course for our final destination: Crossing the border at Pailin. This would prove to be both the most exhausting leg of the trip, but also the most beautiful. The scenery finally changed from completely flat and dry to curvy and tropical. The hillsides were decorated with rice-fields and farms, and the mountains stood towering above us on both sides saluting our victory run.

Pic 1: The welcome committee in Battambang, not annoying at all when getting the bikes off the boat…
Pic 2: Great view from the hotel roof-restaurant.
Pic 3: The troop, made it this far – now ready for the last and final stretch!
Pic 4: A fabulous steak! Mm mmm. Although it went in the mouth and came right out the other side… 

Pic 1&2: Jarle was always happy as long as there was drinks.
Pic 3: Pailin, final resting place before crossing the border. We spent the night here before we continued to the border next day.
Pic 4: A pretty monument in a huge round-about.
Pic 4: A fabulous steak! Mm mmm. Although it went in the mouth and came right out the other side… 

We spent the night in Pailin, just short of the border so that we could cross over early the next morning. Seven days on the road had come to an end, and and we were both exhausted and proud to finally reach our destination. What a great journey we had undertaken! 

Pic 1:Last breakfast in Cambodia!
Pic 2:  Some stormy weather couldn´t kill our groove on this final stretch!
Pic 3:  Getting closer, the trip was coming to an end!
Pic 4: When you see a casino, you know it´s a good sign.

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