Charmed by Cambodia

Trip Start Sep 05, 2010
Trip End Aug 21, 2011

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Where I stayed
Phnom Pich Hotel

Flag of Cambodia  ,
Sunday, March 20, 2011

The last couple of days on the bike have been dream like. The trip is so strange in the sense that we can plan our way through countries, but then due to variables out of our hands, we end up seeing completely different places. When we found out early yesterday morning that the boat to Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) does not start up again until the rains come in July, we were pretty down.  But within an hour of remapping our route we were back on the road and completely in love with the Cambodian countryside and the beautifully smiley people.  Today the scenery and friendly faces continued to charm.

We picked up breakfast at the lively market in Kompong Chhnang.  A couple of miles out of town we found a grassy spot under a large palm.  With baguettes eagerly awaiting the egg filling we peeled back the shells.  Surprise!  The eggs contained chicks.  Polly was really not happy about this.  We decided to stick to the bananas.  This is another example of the completely mad food we have seen since arriving in Cambodia (deep fried spiders, locusts, turtles).

We did a quick 20 miles, the happy shouts of 'hello' echoed all around us.  Often we couldn't even spot where it was coming from.  As you searched amongst the palms and huts you would then spot a cheeky little face peeping out from a hammock.  The kids are beautiful, mostly pretty scrappy if clothed at all, but all so smiley.

Temples were all over the place, some being built, others decaying away, but all adding to the beauty of the ride.  The roads are good so far and the traffic fairly mild.  One speeding coach did clip my left rear pannier today but otherwise it is far from the chaos of India or the brain exploding honking of Vietnam.  The sun was doing its best to kill us off so we stopped for yet another hat purchase.  Today we went for a very fetching checked number, this one also having the handy face wrap which poppers up to completely cover up the sun burning vulnerable areas.  They make us look like suicide bombing cyclists but they certainly keep the sun off.

Lunch was in a rough little place but a good pork and lamb dish accompanied by some pancake type food which we could not work out what it was made of (think it was fish mush).  It refuelled us  sufficiently to do the final 20 miles to Pursat.  Again we arrived early giving us the afternoon to cool down, the AC room is a must in this heat.

It is quite amazing to think that we are just a few hours drive from Vietnam (3 days by bike).  The two countries are on each other’s doorsteps and share so much history, but they really feel miles and miles apart.  Cambodia is so much more laid back and the people are without exception warm and friendly.  In Vietnam we were always a little on guard, over the last couple of days this guard has been well and truly lowered .  It is a beautiful place and one that I feel very lucky to be cycling through rather than sitting on the tourist’s conveyer belt that whips people into and out of the Angkor Wat.

Tonight we are dining at a restaurant that has been set up by a Cambodian NGO which trains local street children to work in the hospitality business.  One positive leftover from the French presence over the years is the cooking and apparently this place does the perfect French fries.  Let’s hope they have a bottle of chilled Sancerre and a sweaty Camembert waiting also (OK, so now I’m dreaming).

Later… the French fries were worth the wait. Before dinner we took a stroll around town. Everyone was out enjoying Sunday evening sunshine.  In the main square there were loads of guys playing the game which I have only seen in Vietnam and Cambodia.  They use a shuttle cock type object and keep it off the ground using an extraordinary armoury of back heels and flicks.  I was invited to play but failed to impress the locals.  My football skills are more rusty than I thought. 

The square was built on an enormous boat shaped structure which sat in the middle of the river which runs alongside town.  Back through the market we checked out the usual piles of meat, fish and vegetables.  The restaurant was lovely and we ordered a dried fish dish with watermelon to accompany the chips!

Although it was Sunday and there was live English football on TV, Polly convinced me to watch the Sunday movie on HBO.  'Valentines Day’ was a cheesy RomCom which I found very difficult to follow because they seemed to have cast every woman in the film to look like Julia Roberts (who was also in the film).  Anyway, I think everybody fell in love and lived happily ever after.

Miles cycled: 60 smiley miles
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triciagick on

Wow - all sounds amazing and Cambodia is definitely a place I intend to visit, but shall have to join some of the grocles in Ankar Watt for a quick look I think. Your're doing brillaintly - 7000 miles - fantastic - keep it up and keep yourselves safe.
Dads is working o the barge and left me already to start some Alice marketing - your blog has caused a considerable delay! Such a lovely sunny day here with the trees all full of blossom. People are starting to mow the grass as well. Did you catch the 'Supermoon' on Saturday night. As I came off Alice at Gunwharf, it had just risen above the boats and looked staggeringly beautiful. xxxxxxxxx

Shep on

Hello guys. Fallen behind with your blog since xmas but enjoyed reading this one as a nice distraction from a morning in the office. You both look in great shape. Take care.

Shep on

Also Mikey, that video reminded me of our famous keepy-uppies sessions on the grassy knoll outside halls in the 3rd year. Apart from those guys looked a bit better at the keeping up aspects of keepy-uppies.

Charlotte on

Hey Guys,
Cambodia sounds amazing and Polly you look so relaxed in the photos!! Mikey looking fab as ever ;-) Please don't go crazy trying to get to SIngapore for the 17th - we can amuse oursleves for a couple of days if you take longer than anticipated. Will e mail you tonight with the 'things to do' list we have come up with for Borneo.
Counting down the days.......

jojo on

Cambodia sounds wonderful - food sounds pretty good too. Great to hear you are having a good time and enjoying the cycle ride. Spring has certainly arrive here - had our lunch in the garden for the first time since October! Olaf is continuing to enchant CJB and me - almost on the verge of walking and as for talking he doen't make any sense yet but he certainly knows what a telephone is for and blabbers merrily to it.. Longing to get next batch of bloggs to see how much ground you have covered - I'm so pleased I got the globe to follow you on.

All love Jojo

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