Ride Day 44: Anlong Veng to Siem Reap
13 August 2016
After the rain storms of the night before, we wake up to quite a sunny morning, but still signs of the rains on the ground. After packing up and heading out from the hotel, we head to a local shop to buy a couple of cans of iced coffee, then to the market to buy a few bananas. The woman at the stall is insistent that bananas are only sold by the bunch, so we end up with an entire bunch of mini bananas (much to the amusement of the small children at the stall).
With our breakfast bought, we follow the map to the Ta Mok house on the side of the lake. Ta Mok was a senior member of the Khmer Rouge who used to hold Anlong Veng as a stronghold. The house itself doesn’t have a huge amount to see, but has nice views over the lake where we ate our breakfast. At the house itself there are a few informative signs on the history of the area and of Cambodia itself, and also an old van, reputedly one of Pol Pot’s radio vans. The entrance fee of $2 each is a bit of a joke, but the sign with the timeline of the local areas history was interesting.
From the Ta Mok house, we head off towards the Thailand border area, and the sights of both Pol Pot’s trial and grave. The road towards the border starts off relatively good quality near Anlong Veng, but as it starts to climb the steep hill up to the border, it deteriorates rapidly. The climb is one of the steepest roads we have ridden on the entire roadtrip so far, and forces the bikes to struggle in third gear. At the top of the hill there is a large new casino on the left hand side, and a very small blue sign on the right hand side denoting the way to Pol Pot’s grave. Just off the main road, in a none descript rough area of land beyond a loosely chained entrance is a grave. As we pull up, a woman comes rushing down to charge us the obligatory US $2 entrance fee each. She then lifts the chain out of the way and we are able to ride in. The grave itself is not much more than a fenced off area with a small amount of tin roofing covering it, and a collection box and incense sticks up front. To our surprise, the grave looks as if it is relatively well tended – swept and with fresh incense.
As we head out of the grave site, the same woman who had taken our entrance fee points to show us to head up the road. The road is in fact a dirt track with large ruts and muddy pools. From the map at Ta Mok’s house we are aware that the Pol Pot trial site is somewhere nearby, so we head up the road. It quickly deteriorates from a dirt road to a single track. There are a couple of large ish houses and a fenced off area that we assume to be the trial site, but there are no signs to confirm it. As we follow the track a few hundred metres further, it brings us back on to the main road, just down the hill from the summit.
We turn left and begin to head away from the border area down the hill. Knowing that we are very short of petrol, we both cruise the 5 kilometres down the hill in neutral to save fuel. Once on the flat again, Tracey’s bike begins to stutter a bit, telling us she needs fuel asap. We make it in to Anlong Veng outskirts again and fill up. A full 15.5 litres between us (both bikes have an 8 litre tank), the largest fill up to date.
A last pass through Anlong Veng sets us on our way towards Siem Reap and the Angkor temples. The roads in this area are fantastic to ride, with only local traffic, no potholes and limited dust compared to most of the roads in Cambodia so far. The roads are also more twisty and turny than the prior two days, making them more interesting to ride. Along the side of the road are various small farms and plantations, that begin to give way to palms and palm covered shacks, rather than wooden houses as we approach the national park. On a large straight section of road right at the beginning of the national park we encounter a lot of police activity. There is a helicopter, 3 ambulances, and umpteen police vehciles and various police units including the special police in their black uniforms. It was unclear what was going on, but we opted not to hang around.
A few turns later, and the palm plantations thicken, with small shack villages along the roadside. A number of the shacks have small fires on the go and are selling corn. There are also a number of mud / clay ovens dotted amongst the shacks that are smoking away. We pull over to take a rest stop in the shade alongside a very small local primary school just on the edge of the plantations.
From here the scenery changes quite considerably for the next 15 – 20 kilometres, as the road rises slightly up in to the hills of the Phnom Koulen National Park. The area is covered with thick jungle and large rocky outcrops. About half way through the park we start to encounter tuk tuks that have presumably brought tourists up from Siem Reap. This lets us know we are getting close to Siem Reap, and a more touristy few days ahead.
The road continues along the perimeter of the Angkor park, with very flat farmland bordering up to thick forest. I ride for some of this section standing on the pegs hoping for a first glimpse of Angkor Wat, but unfortunately that will have to wait for another day. The traffic intensifies as we close in on the right hand turn on to highway 6 in to Siem Reap. This road is very busy with trucks, buses, local traffic and tuk tuks. On the outer edge of Siem Reap itself it gets busier still as we pass by markets and the road gets very dusty.
The final section of road through Siem Reap to our hotel for the next few days is however quieter and beautiful as it crosses the river and goes alongside a park, before turning in to the backstreets and to our hotel (The Banyan Leaf), equipped with a comfortable bed and a swimming pool.
After cleaning ourselves up, we head to a local café called Lilypop for some snacks and a few drinks. As it turns out, the food is so good we end up staying for dinner as well – fresh spring rolls, khymer curry, Amok chicken and beers; a great end to the day.
Full Days Route Here: