November 04, 2004 GMT
16-10-04 STAGE 6 - THROUGH CAMBODIA

D2 and I left D1 at the THAI border crossing at CHANG MEK, we immediately seen the difference in riding on LAO and THAI roads. More traffic and crazy THAI car drivers!
We intended to get to a provincial town called SI SA KET. From there, D2 can visit the ruins that I mentioned previously, and I can get to the border crossing, into CAMBODIA at the border town of OSMACH.
An appropriately named town, as far as I was concerned, the highway into CAMBODIA was 4 lanes, for about 100m, then deteriated into a motocross track for the next 160k.

I have at this stage of my journey, began to question, ďWhat the bloody hell, am I doing? D1 has a job to do in LAO, and get paid for it, D2 is on a pension from the States, and R1 is playing the stock market. Every one of them has an income in THAILAND. Except me, how do I sustain this life style, Ö. Easy, sell off the family silver, shit, I havenít got any! So itís back to OZ to make a bit of money to continue my travels through ASIA.

Thatís in a couple of months; right now I am concerned about the next stage of my travels in CAMBODIA.
Well as far as I am concerned, the local governments can stick their budgets up their ;proverbial. Bums, if they are serious on tourism, get your bloody roads in order!

You have to be joking, when a road is marked as a highway, and ends up as a goat track, ye, rightÖ I know this is a 3rd world country, but how much do they spend on the local bloody Buddhist Watís?

I come to grief twice on these lousy roads, the first, I had to totally strip DORIS and walk her over a creek, 2m above the rice paddies, then pay the resident local elder 100b as a donation.
The second was more serious, as I was navigating this road from hell, when I was confronted with a washed out bridge, over a rice canal, with about a 2m drop to the water, I gave DORIS a gut full of juice, the front wheel followed a 12í Diameter log, but the back end lost traction, and ended up between 2 logs, with the immediate result of an instant brake.
I ended up under DORIS on my left side, about 2m above the water, I managed to physically push DORIS upright and kick her over, as she had stalled when I dropped her.
I was lucky to be wearing my riding gear, as all I sustained was 2 bruises to my hip and elbow. You donít want to seriously injure yourself in CAMBODIA, if you do, make sure you have enough money to medivac yourself to BANGKOK for treatment.

Once you get on the bitumen highway, the remaining ride into SIEM REAP is dull and uninteresting, except for the hundreds of school kids, riding their bicycles, two abreast back to their village for lunch, at least itís a reprieve from the previous road from hell.
The usual chaotic Asian traffic prevailed, with the added noise of constant honking of horns from every vehicle from motorbikes to trucks.
As I had, by this time, lost my sense of humour with CAMBODIAN traffic, I found the closest hotel near the centre of the town, for $15US a night, I was so exhausted and dehydrated, I sat under the cold shower in my room for over an hour, crawled into bed and slept for about 4 hours, waking up with aches and pains everywhere, I rang reception and got a great one hour massage for $5, great value.
I spent 2 days in SIEM REAP, most of the time riding around ANGKOR WAT, I fully recommend it, one of the wonders of the world.

18-10-04 PHNOM PENH

The road south to PHNOM PENH is a typical 2 lane bitumen road, traversing through numerous villages. Taking 4 hours to travel the 340 odd kís , I arrived in the capital on a hot and dusty afternoon.
I had previously been in contact by email, with my riding mate from CHIANG MAI, Robert, the American, on his BMW GS1150, his brother Mark had flown over from California with his 950 KTM, and I had arranged to catch up with them, and ride together through the southern areas of CAMBODIA.
PHNOM PENH is a well laid out city of over 1.5 million people, it is getting back on its feet after the Horrific POL POT Regime.
You canít help but feel pity for the many deformed and maimed beggars in the streets, and the many children just begging for food.

A visit to the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum at TUOL SLENG, is a must. How human beings can do these things to each other is beyond logic. The scale of this Genocide was even worse than the Naziís in WW11, yet the West just sat back and did nothing. Ironically it was the VIETNAMESE that crossed the border and overthrew the KHMER ROUGE.

A couple of nights in PHNOM PENH are enough, to see the city, I hired a motorcycle taxi, with a young rider called KOKE, he is 29 and studying English, a great little bloke, and better than riding your own bike, for $6 itís good value. Just sitting on the back of his old KOREAN built 100cc Suzuki, and snapping off photos was a very relaxing way to wile away the day.
I caught up with Robert and Mark that night and we decided to leave in the morning for SIHANOUKVILLE, about 260kís south and on the coast.

21-10-04 SIHANOUKVILLE (OR LOONEY TOONE VILLE)

First of all I must comment on riding with rich Americans, I have previously mused about Robertís single mindedness, other than that (no one is perfect, shit I should talk!) he is an excellent long distance rider.
His brother Mark, however, is a bit of a worry to ride with. He firmly believes that America is the greatest and everything he does is right.
This guy is a millionaire and roams the world at whim, and unintentualy insulting people in every country he visits!
Too much money, an imagination of extraordinary proportions about his own ego and talent, and the ability of the bike he rides.
Bloody hell, no wonder, when you read the adventure bike web sites, set up by these yanks, you think us bikers down under are fuckin wimps! They have the greatest imagination and ego in the western world.

Now that I have got that off my chest, Mark is not a bad drinking buddy, and itís a bit of a laugh teaching him Aussy slang.

Our ride from PHNOM PENH, began innocently enough, until I realized that Mark did not possess any riding gear, the guy had turned up from California, in shorts, joggers and a short sleeve shirt, ok, at least he had a helmet and gloves! All on a KTM950 with knobblies!

About 100k out of P.P. the pace was pretty slow, because of the school kids and the occasional farm animal crossing the road. I decided to up the pace and took the lead, sitting on a comfortable 100k, expecting the big boys to follow, or even pass.

Thinking they would only be a couple of minutes behind, I stopped at the centre of a town, called KAMPOT, now this is a major intersection on the Cambodiaís road system.
(There is after all only about 3 bitumen roads in the entire country).
After waiting around for approximately an hour for my American riding mates, including a phone call to mum and dad in OZ, to break the monotony of waiting.
Oh ye, I was also offered some sexual favours and some illegal drugs.
I realized my riding mates may have come to some grief, so off I went, back up the road for about 30k. No sign of them, shit, whatís happened?

Retracing the road back to KAMPOT, I find a bypass route around the town square; the mongrels had to have taken this road. (I told you they have no idea)

I really got up Doris, thinking I could catch up with them, I was continuously hitting 140k an hour, not good on a fully loaded DAKAR.

After about 140kís and a couple of hours, I ended up in LOONEY TOONE VILLE, now this little town on the CAMBODIAN coast, is straight out of a wild west movie, I pulled up outside an Aussy bar, called the GíDAY BAR, run by an Aussy guy called Mick, an ex PATTAYA bar owner, and of dubious background. It soon dawns on me that the whole expat. population are of the same ilk.

I can honestly say, that the type of people LOONEY TOONE VILLE attracts, are the most desperate I have met in Asia.

I finally found the hotel that the boys and I had previously agreed to book into, cleaned up and waited for there arrival. The boys arrived a couple of hours later, explaining there little detour, apologies accepted, it was off to find a bite to eat and a few beers.

The next day we wanted to investigate a crazy resort and casino that the French had built in the 20ís. way up in the mountains. It is now part of the BOKOR national park and about 80kís east of the coast.
We decided to ride there, but on arrival at the parks entrance, it was immediately obvious that we were going to have a hard time on the badly eroded road, all that remained of the bitumen road was the rocky, loose road base, with sharp granite 4Ē rocks strewn across the track.
Now I am into taking calculated risks, but after discussing the situation with my fellow travelers, it was decided to hire 3, 250cc trail bikes from the Rangers, for $5 a bike.
It turned out to be the right decision, as the road actually deteriated so badly that we would have put the big bikes and ourselves at serious risk.
So much for the BIG ADVENTURE BIKE IMAGE!

On arrival at the top of the mountain, (itís actually a high plain), you are visually confronted with the most eerie buildings that I have ever seen, anywhere in my travels.
Imagine a haunted house in the British moors, thatís the casino, and a deserted church in some Hollywood horror movie, with the wind moaning through the glassless windows, the whole place is down right spooky.
We finally descended to the rangerís headquarters, a distance of about 60k return ride, gave back the little 250ís and began our ride back to LOONEY TOONE VILLE.

That night after a conversation with the gay Swedish hotel owner, Robert and his brother become interested in investing in the local real estate, so Henry (the gay hotel owner) arranged a meeting with the local wheeler and dealer.

The next morning at breakfast a real shady type CAMBODIAN, with the name of Mr. 10% turned up, in an old DATSUN coupe, wearing a hard hat, and accompanied by a well groomed young guy, who spoke little English.
Now I have been around a bit, these guys appeared to be ex military or even worse, part of the old POL POT Regime!

Mr. 10% immediately becomes immersed in high finance conversation with the two Americans. A shit load of money was bandied about, and after a couple of coffees it was off around LOONEY TOONE VILLE in the old DATSUN.
First stop was a run down hotel with about 30 odd rooms, and one guest great potential!
The two yanks were off on an imagination trip, with renovations already getting vividly described to Mr. 10%.
Thinking he had a couple of suckers, with a shit load of money, old 10% also showed the Yanks two more hotels and a block of land opposite the beachÖ for $220.000US! Remember this is a 3rd world country, even the Americans thought this was over the top!
Anyway, all parties agreed to meet at 10am the next morning, with Mr. 10% getting all the prices, from the owners, on the properties inspected.

True to form, my American friends had second thoughts (after getting Mr. 10% so hyped up) so we flew the coupe at 8.30am. Giving the gay hotel owner instructions to tell the CAMBODIANS they werenít interestedÖ..mm, you got to wonder, havenít you.
So it was off to the border, about 240k away. The first 60k or so was of good bitumen. Then true to form the road gradually deteriated from a good gravel road, similar to the fast dirt in Aussy, into corrugations, potholes and then ultimately motocross track.
About 160k of dirt and 4 river crossings, 3 on very small ferries, we eventually arrived at the Thai border. We took over 6 hours to do the distance.

The border crossing went smoothly for me and Doris, (Carnetís come in handy) as usual the 2 Yanks spent about an hour, talking the Thai customs into letting their bikes into the country.
It was then a low flying run to the ferry crossing to KHOH CHANG, to get the last ferry at 6.30pm.





16-10-04 STAGE 6 - THROUGH CAMBODIA

D2 and I left D1 at the THAI border crossing at CHANG MEK, we immediately seen the difference in riding on LAO and THAI roads. More traffic and crazy THAI car drivers!
We intended to get to a provincial town called SI SA KET. From there, D2 can visit the ruins that I mentioned previously, and I can get to the border crossing, into CAMBODIA at the border town of OSMACH.
An appropriately named town, as far as I was concerned, the highway into CAMBODIA was 4 lanes, for about 100m, then deteriated into a motocross track for the next 160k.

I have at this stage of my journey, began to question, ďWhat the bloody hell, am I doing? D1 has a job to do in LAO, and get paid for it, D2 is on a pension from the States, and R1 is playing the stock market. Every one of them has an income in THAILAND. Except me, how do I sustain this life style, Ö. Easy, sell off the family silver, shit, I havenít got any! So itís back to OZ to make a bit of money to continue my travels through ASIA.

Thatís in a couple of months; right now I am concerned about the next stage of my travels in CAMBODIA.
Well as far as I am concerned, the local governments can stick their budgets up their ;proverbial. Bums, if they are serious on tourism, get your bloody roads in order!

You have to be joking, when a road is marked as a highway, and ends up as a goat track, ye, rightÖ I know this is a 3rd world country, but how much do they spend on the local bloody Buddhist Watís?

I come to grief twice on these lousy roads, the first, I had to totally strip DORIS and walk her over a creek, 2m above the rice paddies, then pay the resident local elder 100b as a donation.
The second was more serious, as I was navigating this road from hell, when I was confronted with a washed out bridge, over a rice canal, with about a 2m drop to the water, I gave DORIS a gut full of juice, the front wheel followed a 12í Diameter log, but the back end lost traction, and ended up between 2 logs, with the immediate result of an instant brake.
I ended up under DORIS on my left side, about 2m above the water, I managed to physically push DORIS upright and kick her over, as she had stalled when I dropped her.
I was lucky to be wearing my riding gear, as all I sustained was 2 bruises to my hip and elbow. You donít want to seriously injure yourself in CAMBODIA, if you do, make sure you have enough money to medivac yourself to BANGKOK for treatment.

Once you get on the bitumen highway, the remaining ride into SIEM REAP is dull and uninteresting, except for the hundreds of school kids, riding their bicycles, two abreast back to their village for lunch, at least itís a reprieve from the previous road from hell.
The usual chaotic Asian traffic prevailed, with the added noise of constant honking of horns from every vehicle from motorbikes to trucks.
As I had, by this time, lost my sense of humour with CAMBODIAN traffic, I found the closest hotel near the centre of the town, for $15US a night, I was so exhausted and dehydrated, I sat under the cold shower in my room for over an hour, crawled into bed and slept for about 4 hours, waking up with aches and pains everywhere, I rang reception and got a great one hour massage for $5, great value.
I spent 2 days in SIEM REAP, most of the time riding around ANGKOR WAT, I fully recommend it, one of the wonders of the world.

18-10-04 PHNOM PENH

The road south to PHNOM PENH is a typical 2 lane bitumen road, traversing through numerous villages. Taking 4 hours to travel the 340 odd kís , I arrived in the capital on a hot and dusty afternoon.
I had previously been in contact by email, with my riding mate from CHIANG MAI, Robert, the American, on his BMW GS1150, his brother Mark had flown over from California with his 950 KTM, and I had arranged to catch up with them, and ride together through the southern areas of CAMBODIA.
PHNOM PENH is a well laid out city of over 1.5 million people, it is getting back on its feet after the Horrific POL POT Regime.
You canít help but feel pity for the many deformed and maimed beggars in the streets, and the many children just begging for food.

A visit to the Killing Fields and the Genocide Museum at TUOL SLENG, is a must. How human beings can do these things to each other is beyond logic. The scale of this Genocide was even worse than the Naziís in WW11, yet the West just sat back and did nothing. Ironically it was the VIETNAMESE that crossed the border and overthrew the KHMER ROUGE.

A couple of nights in PHNOM PENH are enough, to see the city, I hired a motorcycle taxi, with a young rider called KOKE, he is 29 and studying English, a great little bloke, and better than riding your own bike, for $6 itís good value. Just sitting on the back of his old KOREAN built 100cc Suzuki, and snapping off photos was a very relaxing way to wile away the day.
I caught up with Robert and Mark that night and we decided to leave in the morning for SIHANOUKVILLE, about 260kís south and on the coast.

21-10-04 SIHANOUKVILLE (OR LOONEY TOONE VILLE)

First of all I must comment on riding with rich Americans, I have previously mused about Robertís single mindedness, other than that (no one is perfect, shit I should talk!) he is an excellent long distance rider.
His brother Mark, however, is a bit of a worry to ride with. He firmly believes that America is the greatest and everything he does is right.
This guy is a millionaire and roams the world at whim, and unintentualy insulting people in every country he visits!
Too much money, an imagination of extraordinary proportions about his own ego and talent, and the ability of the bike he rides.
Bloody hell, no wonder, when you read the adventure bike web sites, set up by these yanks, you think us bikers down under are fuckin wimps! They have the greatest imagination and ego in the western world.

Now that I have got that off my chest, Mark is not a bad drinking buddy, and itís a bit of a laugh teaching him Aussy slang.

Our ride from PHNOM PENH, began innocently enough, until I realized that Mark did not possess any riding gear, the guy had turned up from California, in shorts, joggers and a short sleeve shirt, ok, at least he had a helmet and gloves! All on a KTM950 with knobblies!

About 100k out of P.P. the pace was pretty slow, because of the school kids and the occasional farm animal crossing the road. I decided to up the pace and took the lead, sitting on a comfortable 100k, expecting the big boys to follow, or even pass.

Thinking they would only be a couple of minutes behind, I stopped at the centre of a town, called KAMPOT, now this is a major intersection on the Cambodiaís road system.
(There is after all only about 3 bitumen roads in the entire country).
After waiting around for approximately an hour for my American riding mates, including a phone call to mum and dad in OZ, to break the monotony of waiting.
Oh ye, I was also offered some sexual favours and some illegal drugs.
I realized my riding mates may have come to some grief, so off I went, back up the road for about 30k. No sign of them, shit, whatís happened?

Retracing the road back to KAMPOT, I find a bypass route around the town square; the mongrels had to have taken this road. (I told you they have no idea)

I really got up Doris, thinking I could catch up with them, I was continuously hitting 140k an hour, not good on a fully loaded DAKAR.

After about 140kís and a couple of hours, I ended up in LOONEY TOONE VILLE, now this little town on the CAMBODIAN coast, is straight out of a wild west movie, I pulled up outside an Aussy bar, called the GíDAY BAR, run by an Aussy guy called Mick, an ex PATTAYA bar owner, and of dubious background. It soon dawns on me that the whole expat. population are of the same ilk.

I can honestly say, that the type of people LOONEY TOONE VILLE attracts, are the most desperate I have met in Asia.

I finally found the hotel that the boys and I had previously agreed to book into, cleaned up and waited for there arrival. The boys arrived a couple of hours later, explaining there little detour, apologies accepted, it was off to find a bite to eat and a few beers.

The next day we wanted to investigate a crazy resort and casino that the French had built in the 20ís. way up in the mountains. It is now part of the BOKOR national park and about 80kís east of the coast.
We decided to ride there, but on arrival at the parks entrance, it was immediately obvious that we were going to have a hard time on the badly eroded road, all that remained of the bitumen road was the rocky, loose road base, with sharp granite 4Ē rocks strewn across the track.
Now I am into taking calculated risks, but after discussing the situation with my fellow travelers, it was decided to hire 3, 250cc trail bikes from the Rangers, for $5 a bike.
It turned out to be the right decision, as the road actually deteriated so badly that we would have put the big bikes and ourselves at serious risk.
So much for the BIG ADVENTURE BIKE IMAGE!

On arrival at the top of the mountain, (itís actually a high plain), you are visually confronted with the most eerie buildings that I have ever seen, anywhere in my travels.
Imagine a haunted house in the British moors, thatís the casino, and a deserted church in some Hollywood horror movie, with the wind moaning through the glassless windows, the whole place is down right spooky.
We finally descended to the rangerís headquarters, a distance of about 60k return ride, gave back the little 250ís and began our ride back to LOONEY TOONE VILLE.

That night after a conversation with the gay Swedish hotel owner, Robert and his brother become interested in investing in the local real estate, so Henry (the gay hotel owner) arranged a meeting with the local wheeler and dealer.

The next morning at breakfast a real shady type CAMBODIAN, with the name of Mr. 10% turned up, in an old DATSUN coupe, wearing a hard hat, and accompanied by a well groomed young guy, who spoke little English.
Now I have been around a bit, these guys appeared to be ex military or even worse, part of the old POL POT Regime!

Mr. 10% immediately becomes immersed in high finance conversation with the two Americans. A shit load of money was bandied about, and after a couple of coffees it was off around LOONEY TOONE VILLE in the old DATSUN.
First stop was a run down hotel with about 30 odd rooms, and one guest great potential!
The two yanks were off on an imagination trip, with renovations already getting vividly described to Mr. 10%.
Thinking he had a couple of suckers, with a shit load of money, old 10% also showed the Yanks two more hotels and a block of land opposite the beachÖ for $220.000US! Remember this is a 3rd world country, even the Americans thought this was over the top!
Anyway, all parties agreed to meet at 10am the next morning, with Mr. 10% getting all the prices, from the owners, on the properties inspected.

True to form, my American friends had second thoughts (after getting Mr. 10% so hyped up) so we flew the coupe at 8.30am. Giving the gay hotel owner instructions to tell the CAMBODIANS they werenít interestedÖ..mm, you got to wonder, havenít you.
So it was off to the border, about 240k away. The first 60k or so was of good bitumen. Then true to form the road gradually deteriated from a good gravel road, similar to the fast dirt in Aussy, into corrugations, potholes and then ultimately motocross track.
About 160k of dirt and 4 river crossings, 3 on very small ferries, we eventually arrived at the Thai border. We took over 6 hours to do the distance.

The border crossing went smoothly for me and Doris, (Carnetís come in handy) as usual the 2 Yanks spent about an hour, talking the Thai customs into letting their bikes into the country.
It was then a low flying run to the ferry crossing to KHOH CHANG, to get the last ferry at 6.30pm.







Posted by Tom Forde at November 04, 2004 04:51 AM GMT
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