Road to Phnom Penh

Trip Start Nov 02, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Cambodia  , Khétt Preăh Seih,
Friday, March 1, 2013

On leaving Sihanouk Ville I cycle out to the port before leaving, I've not seen this area yet and I can’t believe the size of it I mean this is a major port, the only one in Cambodia and deals with all the tanker, containers ships etc. from the Gulf of Thailand. Big John was right when he said Sihanouk Ville goes up at hill, down a hill, up a hill, down a hill etc. it really does and I’m quite relieved once I’m out.  From here it’s 223 km to Phnom Penh which will take me 2 or 3 days depending on terrain and how fit I’m feeling, but I’m hoping to make it in 2 days and catch up with friends once I’m there.

I enjoy the countryside on route although there isn’t much shade from the sun out here, and I go through loads of water every day.  Because I’m on the main route the traffic can be really heavy in places and I get run off the road on more than one occasion.   You’ve no choice, two lanes are tarmac but when buses and lorries are overtaking each other there’s no room for anything else, they just flash their lights at you to get out the way.  Because of the port there’s a massive amount of fuel lorries in particular which go past in convoys, no mercy, and kick up dust and dirt so much so that I have to buy a mask to use along with my glasses for a bit of protection and try and keep safe.

I don’t pass through too many towns the first day but take rest bite where I can; I love the places with the hammocks which lets me put my feet up.  I stop in one of the towns for lunch and have really good chicken and rice, the place of full of others on the road today, many of which have passed me and I get the thumbs up (normally followed by people gripping my arms or legs and signing that I’m strong ha ha).

I pass an impressive Temple which I stop in at for a look at, but before I know it I’ve all these kids from the neighboring school showing me around, with some of the girls grabbing my hand, leading the way.  There’s all lovely and I’m delighted by my group of guides that I spend longer than I was anticipating here but it’s what cycling is all about, going with the flow.

The road thankfully flattens out and I manage around 100 km before I camp up for the night, I end up behind a house out in a field off the main highway.  It doesn’t look derelict far from it, and I fully expect someone to come back I the evening, but they don’t, it’s 6am next morning before I get my first visitor (well of the human kind).  I don’t know what was roaming around my tent during the night, and I don’t want to know, but it was right next to my head, it sounded more like a snake or hedgehog brushing against the tent and kept waking me up. 

I pack up early and I’m just getting ready to leave when someone comes, he tries to show me around the house and veg patches and water well and different things before I can make a move, I’ve a couple of oranges which we share while he chats away although I can’t understand more than his sign/body language.  I go to jump into the trees for a comfort break before I leave and I’m stopped dead in my tracks… a bright orange 'Danger!! Mines!!’ sign is nailed to several trees, staring me in the face.  I didn’t even see these last night but it was getting dark and I was tired, I will need to be far more careful from here on in, needless to say I hold it, but when I did stop I was desperate and ended up in the middle of huge spider webs… seriously not a good start to my day!

Anyway I stopped and had a proper breakfast before continuing but after around 80 km I was dead beat, it is so hot and the traffic is building up so do I continue another 50 km, or give in?  Well the momentum of the road must have swept me along because before I know it I’m only 30 km away from Phnom Penh so decide to keep going, looking forward to a nice shower, comfortable bed and meeting friends.

I do enjoy being on the road and the sights you see, I love the market villages, and normally stop in for something to eat or drink, loving the looks I get.  They’re all embarrassed when you approach their stall, scared of what you are going to ask for and if they'll understand, I’m always the talk of the place with everyone looking but when I manage to get my order, or manage to use the chopsticks or fork/spoon combination they use, I’m normally left alone.

So on wards, 223 km later I arrive in rush hour traffic in Phnom Penh which is chaos, ha ha now I really am being swept along with the traffic and momentum and I’m pleased to find my hostel fairly easily.  All the streets are numbers with odd numbers running parallel to the river and even numbers running towards it, and some directions via text definitely helped.

Looks beautiful on the way in, I just know I’m going to enjoy exploring here.
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Malcolm Surgenor on

Jeez Claire careful of those mines!!

new_lands on

I know Malcolm, I gave myself a real fright! I'll be asking locals before I put my tent back up I think...

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