Day 40 1040 days to go. Distance: Today 12km 2102km. It’s 5.30pm an I’m sitting in front of Angkor Watt and I just had to say ‘oh bloody dear what an extraordinary sight. It’s pinch myself very cool stuff. If you buy your pass after 5pm then you can enter and Day 1 doesn’t start until tomorrow so basically I sneak in a freebie sunset and taste test. I just had to wet the taste buds and so glad I did. Finding a guesthouse can wait until later. Right now this is truly awesome and I’m really excited to be here and back at 5am in the morning when it opens for sunrise. Way too excited and had to share the moment. I keep smiling an idiot grin at people who just laugh. I think they get it. That’s one of the downside of traveling solo is when you want to share something really cool with someone who counts. The blogs the next best thing for me so thank you for wading through the ‘cools’ and ‘awesomes’ which are pretty much the extent of my vocab at these special times. By the way this is awesomely cool 🙂
It’s 8.30pm found a cool guesthouse for the next 4 nights $6 per night. So I have my photo ID pass and a rough idea what watts I want to see and when over the next days. I feel like a big kid with a new toy or in this case something totally new and different to check out that i have heard so much about. I don’t even mind that much that I have a sinus infection. It wasn’t unexpected and been coming on now for the last 3 weeks since all that dust in Laos. The body did it’s best but alas its time for drugs. I’m a bit achy with it ot that could just be the way I slept on the bus today so it’ll be good to take the edge of and give the immune system a bit of a hand. It’s been working so hard with not much relief each day. Thank you Travel Doctor. I’ve got a scarf onboard so Ill use that in the dusty parts to help out. My commiserations go out to those who suffer sinus related problems, horrible achy head, nose and teeth. Anyway enough about boring snot and back to cool stuff. The bus ride was a good time spent reading up on the ride options with little sleeps in between 🙂 It’s sort of a pinch myself moment that I’m here. I think that’s why I was so keen to get out this afternoon for a reality check. It’s been such full on days in Phenom Phen and a bit of an emotional roller coaster taking in some of the challenges Ive spoken previously about. So this afternoon sitting on the ancient wall looking out over the moat at Angkor was a perfect intro to where I’ll be exploring and indulging the lens over the next days. I’ll upload the photos when I return to Phenom Phen but have wifi access at the guesthouse to let you know how each day goes. For now its time for bed as an early rise in the morning. Talk soon. x
Day 36 1044 days to go. Distance: today 92km total 1905km. It’s 6.30pm Thursday 5/1/2012
Khompong Cham. If there was any chance I was going to be nervous on gravel from my fall the other day that’s been long squashed from today’s 92km with 80kms on red gravel and rocky uneven surface. what a wicked day as in unforgiving and tough on me and rube. We certainly got our patience and parts stretched but it was so worth it. The people and experiences along the way were awesome and it’ll be one of my highlights of Cambodia for sure. I stocked up on baguettes and bananas this morning at the Chlong market and filled my belly with 2 minute noodles then headed about 8.00am. It was a full day arriving Kompong Cham 4.00pm this arv and a decent’s days work for us both. The first stretch followed the Mekong from Chlong to a small Musim village called Phum Trea. The road was unsealed and red dirt so the sinuses had a bit of a fit. I’ve got a mask I bought and it took the edge off and feeling too bad this evening. The area is mixed some villages very ragged some appeared quite lucrative and most with a strong fishing agriculture and muslim. It was really different to what I’ve seen – people were very busy emptying large tubs of small fish,sorting and laying it out for drying. The smell was pungent and the women very traditionally dressed. Funny but I stopped and had lunch by a group of woman working away and as hard as they were sorting they were chatting and giggling. It was cool to ears drop and flash them a smile if i caught their eyes. They were very shy of me so I kept a respectful distance and took some subtle shots. At one stage I somehow ended up on a back road of the backroad. It was all eroded from the wet season with a hard core single dirt track that weaved it’s way around the erosion. i couldn’t ride rube through it and we ended up walking for about 5kms. That was a testing time and I still have some serious growth with respect to my patience at times. boy i through a couple of wobblies but noone to hear me except Rube who was sweating with the terrain and trailer as well. ]\Then this man came along walking his small herd of cows and pointed me to a path that lead me back onto the main back road. Funny the experience of it made these roads now look like tarmac so all was good from that point on. Back in Kratie the girl I met also cycling gave me a map of the track today with ‘how far is the ferry between Stuang trang and Phum ‘ written in Cambodian. She said it may come in handy as the ferry crossing was hard to spot from the other side. Oh my goodness – what an amazing gift. I spent 10km literally stopping and asking and getting mixed distances but all the folk understanding what I was asking and doing their best to point me onwards. The Muslim call to prayer has just started. I love that sound. I perched myself on a wall that runs along the river front. There;s food vendors and heaps of goings on on the water front. Great atmosphere while I post and have dinner. Anyway I eventually found the ferry at the 55km mark 10km out on the map so that bit of paper was priceless. I wish i knew the girls name to email her my thank-you so if you’re reading this on the off chance “you are a jet and saved my butt today big time.’ I treated myself to a can of coke which went down very nicely on the ferry ride across. The morning was tough and I must admit that 4 hours of children yelling in chorus ‘hello’ at me repeatedly at the top of their lungs made it a bit hard to stay open and receptive to their ‘welcomes’ I know that sounds terrible. They weren’t begging or being aggressive or throwing unexploded land mines or machetes at me so there’s no rationality but I’d be missing a strong emotion from today if I left it out of my post. I was really aware of my growing lack of tolerance and it was really uncomfortable and interesting to see how I coped. What eventually worked was saying one hello, giving a quick wave as it was a two hands on handlebar day, then picking one child out and saying something nice to him or her. I needed a strategy because the alternative that wanted to come out of my mouth wasn’t very nice. You know i can’t even imagine the hardships these families live day to day and I am saturated with western and middle class filters to even respectfully come close. however i can be respectful and present myself respectfully to ensure the local folk are afforded the best of me as a representative of my country traveling on theres. So that was my debrief on AM today. On the other side of the river it was an entirely different area and people. The roads was still unsealed and red dirt but it was more even and improved as the next 45kms went on. I was actually quite spent from the morning so I had allot of stops, had another sugarcane drink and chatted to a handful of local folk and familes to regather a far more friendlier open self and shut evil impatient Maree up for the afternoon. It worked yay. It was a really interesting PM. The area became very fertile and agricultural with fields of green mixed crops. The last 20km was along a tree-lined road through this sort of country and it was such different experience and wonderful way to see out the day’s ride. I found a great guest house again for $5.00 right on the river front with great views out over the water and river front life. I sat out there when I first arrived to send the spot tracked and enjoy a coffee and really appreciated the day for all it’s ups and down times. It all blends now to an amazing day. Tomorrow is onto Phenom Phen 120kms and over 2000km total distance how cools that. I thought I’d spend a couple of days checking out the city before heading up to Siem Reap for a three day pass to take in the temples. That’s the plan. for now it’s a picnic dinner and bed. Talk soon x
Day 39 1041 days to go. Distance : today: 30km total #. It’s 3.40pm Sunday the 8/1/2012 Phenom Phen. My girl loves me again. I had made such a muddle of he
r gears when I high pressured her with good intent but it was an oppsy. Now in hindsight I think I knew not to do that but it seemed like a great idea at the time and I was so happy with myself that I had spotted the hose at the bus terminal. As taken from one of my favorite songs currently Tinpan Orange ‘Lovely’ …Ïf I ever break you I swear I’ll put you back together again.’ So that was me 1st job o’clock this morning, Barnett’s Manual, tools, no idea but determined to put my Rubes back together again. And now she sparkles and works and loves me. Likewise!!! My very authentic Oakley’s are Red just like her. The bond is back and stronger then ever in time for us to head to Siem Reap tomorrow to check out Ankor Watt and the temples for a few days – very excited. After that effort it was shower and pamper and off to check out the Russian markets. Actually they were a bit of a fizzer probably because what they offer I’m not interested in ie clothes, jewelry cheap brand names and the interesting stuff I felt like I had seen before. I found this place outside a bank to park Rubes and there were a couple of security guards sitting having a big laugh as I locked up my bike. I could feel my cranky shackles want to ruffle but instead I went over to them introduced myself and sat beside them while I drank my morning takeaway coffee (Thermos style). Soon we were chatting about beer and eating lychees which they offered to share. Lychees are called me hen in Cambodian. Delish and a really cool experience indeedy. I headed then back across the friendship bridge and to the market bakery I found yesterday to buy some more baguettes as apparently you can eat 10 in 24hrs. I quite like calorie-ing up and am so good at it J Another 10 on board I headed for a tour around the city. Phenom Phen has very grand avenues with centre monuments and manicured gardens. They pretty much form the grid system for the other roads so it’s easy to navigate about. The city is building a huge manmade island off the dockside lots of bucks spent to help along its reputation as one of the new “in” cities in the world. It was good to get a better feel for the place and its layout. I did have some cool encounters with some vender families along the way. One woman was selling peeled huge grapefruit. She had a baby and 3 other children under 5. Full on! Anyway a dollar well spent and I sat with them while I ate my grapefruit and amused the kids. I passed this other woman tying together and selling those stalks I saw the other day opposite the fields of pink lotus. So they are the lotus stalks that you break open and peal and eat the little pods inside. They’re a bland texture something like a water chestnut. Again I sat with her while I ate my share and I loved sitting on the street listening to her chatting away to me. Eating my lotus pods and watching the city move past from a street perspective I loved it. I think this was my most favorite Cambodian experience so far and worth every bit of the 50c. Yesterday I left out a few bits I had seen during the day. The boys of all ages and boys at heart play this game like badminton but with their feet and the shuttle cock is a bit bigger. God they’re so coordinated and clever. I watched them for ages on dusk yesterday playing in front of the fountain opposite the night markets. I also watched them playing outside the fluoro lit restaurant hence the photos. I’ll attach them to this post so they make more sense. After I update the blog and upload the photos from Cambodia so far, it’s back to the guest house to pack up for tomorrow and head to the riverfront for dusk and dinner. It’s a nice way to end what’s been a full speed full on few days, very interesting both as a place to experience and personally manage. We have it so good at home and that’s always good for me to keep in the front of the brain. Talk soon x
Day 32 1048 days to go. Distance: today 20km total 1578km. It’s 7.17am Sunday 1/1/2012 Don Kong Island. I was so meant to see the sun rise today which is kind of special being a new day to a new year. The locals partied here until 3am ish. It was funny there were all these little gatherings but each with their music playing like it was the village event. Oddly enough it wasn’t too offensive even to this ‘in bed by eight is too late’ party Gal. Must be the authenticity of laos fun. Do you think I have a soft spot for them? I have heard music blaring from pretty much anywhere: homes, hairdressers, paddocks, trucks, mechanics and food vendors. Yesterday I passed a wedding with the bride and groom walking through a huge heart arbor adorned with paper flowers. The guests were cheering. The music was max. The paper flowers were vibrating off the arbor. Perfect. They don’t seem to mind their speakers can’t pump up the volumes. Max on the dials max on the smiles. Yet another example of the ‘don’t worry be happy’ laos psyche. Anyway I didn’t think I’d manage a 6am rise but woke right on 5.30am. Up check, pants on check, flask check, camera with batteries check. Rube winged all our way down to the water but then ooo’d ad ahhh’d with me. The atmosphere was beautiful with the 6am bells from the watt chiming. Initially it was quite clouded bar the growing light on the horizon which spot lighted a lone fisherman. Then the sunrise colors blushed pink through the clouds and this foreplay ended with a burst of brilliance. And there we have it ladies and gentlemen, the first sunrise to 2012 which reads pretty much like an orgasm. A perfect start to a new year 😉 On a more spiritual note it was about this time the orange robed monks passed in single file heads bowed in ritual procession. The experience was very cool. So today is super low key. I’m firstly doing the last of my washing then pampering rube. We’ll then head down to the waterfront to find a posse to plonk ourselves and read up on cambodia. Around 4pm we’ll head back to Muang saen for sunset via the southern tip for pickies of the rice fields I told you about yesterday. The passenger ferry leaves from Muang khong so it should be easy enough to grab a ferry in the morning and do the 30 odd kms to the Cambodian border town of dong kralor. I read there’s ATMs at most border crossings. I so hope so ’cause I’ll be close to my last kip by then depending on the cost of the ferry and immigration charges. Otherwise I’ll be chasing some of those chickens for their eggs. It should be ok. Internet has cost double here but the speed is good. I’ll do an update later tonight and be ready to head early tomorrow. On that note to all those Loas folk I have met over the last 3 weeks I say Kawp Jai to your happy hearts and souls. Cambodia here we come. Talk soon x
It’s 5.35 and I’m looking out at the last of the sunset in pretty much awe of what Laos has offered. My favorite the people. On my way here i wanted to stop at the ferry to find out about times for tomorrow morning. The ferry workers tried but had no idea what I wanted. I eventually shrugged and smiled an ‘oh well’ then spotted a woman in upmarket hotel watering the garden. It was worth a go. She ended up being from Laos but holidaying for christmas and usually lives in Melbourne of all places. Her name is Puton and went with me back to the ferry to sort out dept times. How awesome and random is that. Gorgeous woman who accepted my card and I hope will be in contact. She returns to Melbourne on the 15/1/12. Small small amazing world we live in. It was a bit later than planned but there were still workers in the rice fields who gave me a wave. I also passed a group of men in a village playing Petang. I stopped and asked if i could take a photo and they all flexed and wanted the next throw. You just got to love that x chromosome don’t you. There was a woman watching on and we had a joke about it. I ended up stopping short of Muang sueng at a village watt right on the river. Kids were swimming and playing and once they spotted me came over to check out the tourist. They were great, fun, naughty, loved having their pictures taken . Then this older woman came over and scurried them back to their pontoon. She then sat between them and me it was hilarious. Evil westerner.
It was such a chill day. After doing some washing and servicing the beautiful Ruby, I found a café on the river front which nobody seemed to mind me sitting at. It was empty and the seats were in the shade so perfect. I could set myself up with all my maps and books. This fellow appeared at some stage but must have had a big night as he just said hi and put his head on another table and slept. Yay. I spent 4 hours there looking at maps and guide books and itineries for Cambodia reading up on the main places I’ll go through. Tomorrow I hope to get to Stung Treng 65km into Cambodia about a 90km day in total. The ferries leave from 6am then it’s a 30km cycle to Don Krolor border. Basically I’ll follow the Mekong to Phnom Phen through Kratie and Kampong Cham. From there I hope to leave the trailer and majority of gear at a guest house and Rube and I will get a return bus to Siem Reap to check out the temples for three days. From Phnom Phen I’ll follow the Mekong again to the border Chau doc and into Vietnam to the Mekong Delta> I’m really excited about cambodia.
So to all those folk in Laos I have met over the last 3 weeks I say thank you for your help, generosity and fun. You are truly warm, resilient and positive people which I have learnt allot from. I will always remember to release a bird when my worries start to build. Talk soon. X