Ride day 38: Kampot to Sihanoukville
4 August 2016
It’s hard to get up and out of the comfy bed of Kampot Manor. We finally drag ourselves up and have a nice relaxing breakfast on the balcony, followed by a quick pack up and a chat to Dave before we head off. There was a very light shower coming down as we finished loading the bikes and rolled out.
After we get to the roundabout and on to the main road, the rain started to get heavier, and the tops of Bokor Hills disappeared in to the cloud. We stopped to put the ponchos on as the rain continued to get heavier.
At the turn off to the right up towards Bokor Hill Fort, we stopped at the checkpoint to pay the entrance toll ($1 each) and set off up the hill. The road is absolutely fantastic, with great Tarmac and the potential for incredible views as it winds up the mountain side. We were treated to occasional glimpse of these views in between the rain storms and cloud, looking down on to Kampot and the coast.
As we turn the last left hand switchback the cloud comes right in as does the wind. The ride to the checkpoint at the top is super windy, cold and with less than 20 metres visibility we both have our lights on.
With the heavy rain, strong winds and low visibility, we’ve already decided we won’t be staying long at the top. The temperature has also dropped right off, making it decidedly chilly. We ride through the top checkpoint, showing our passes to the guards, before heading towards where we think church is. It’s an eerie place with lots of large fancy new buildings looming out of the cloud. We stop at a temple right near the top and take a look over the very steep drop. Apparently we are within 300 metres of the church, but cannot see it. We take a ride around on a bunch of the small roads, past more large mansions. All of which appear to be new but deserted. Very strange!
We eventually find our way down to the church, and park up off the roadside and wander up the rough path to the Colonial church. There is one other car parked at the bottom, and about 10 Chinese tourists at the church, randomly with suitcases and lots of cameras. We stop just long enough to take some photos before heading to try and find the old colonial casino. The ruins of this building are impressive and like the scene from a horror movie in this cloud cover. An amazing place way up on the mountain and awesome to wander around and take photos.
With the cloud cover still heavy, cold temperatures and high winds, we decide to start the ride back down. Less than 10km covered and already the cloud has disappeared and it’s getting warmer every minute. Back past the great views of Kampot and on down the hill. With Tracey taking the lead, I knock my bike in to neutral and cruise the last 7km of the descent. A quick rest stop at the garage at the bottom, and then a right hand turn along the coast towards Sihanoukville.
The rain intensifies again on the road, and whilst it’s a good quality road, there is a lot of standing water. Loads of amazing views over paddy fields, with Buffalo chilling in water holes. A couple of cut outs from Traceys bike with air flow to the fuel tank problems. A quick opening of the filler cap allows her to breathe again.
Along the roadside there are signs for Cambodia and Angkor beer everywhere. Lots of cars driving with boots open and packed to the rafters. Some of them with people hanging out the back. The most full car even had a motorbike precariously hanging out the back.
The rain hasn’t let up all day, and as much as the views are fantastic, we are both keen to get to our hotel. When we are about 10km out, just as we pass the Cambodia beer factory my bike starts kicking and swerving wildly. A massive rear puncture brings me quickly to a halt.
Ladies at the road side point us back up the road to a repair shop. I get off the bike and put it in second gear, and ride it along next to me back up the hill 300metres or so to a small roadside shack. Bags off the bike and up on the stand she goes. As the guy takes the tube out, it’s obvious that it’s not going to be a patchable job. The tube has a two inch gash in it, torn by a large nail that is embedded in the tyre. He produces a new tube from the counter, and 5 minutes and $5 later we are back on the road.
We continue on down the road and wave to the helpful ladies who wave back. Riding in to town we are weary of reports of local police targeting tourists for bribes. We ride close together with visors down to try and avoid the cops attention. Mainly on the roads through town, we pop out at the main roundabout and see a group of cops waiting. We opt to take an earlier exit and head down to the beach front.
The rain seems to have stopped when we stop for a pizza down in the front. However, no sooner had our food arrives and the heavens open even more heavily than before. We finish our meal and book up a hotel for the night, less than 200 metres away.
A short ride up the road and we are checked in to our hotel / motel. We shower up and change out of our soaking wet clothes and shoes, then take a walk in to town past the night market, and constant calls of “tuk tuk”. We decide to check out one of the many casinos. It’s quite Ropey , smokey, bright and full of hookers. A bit more of a wander down the back streets and in to one other casino. We waste $5 between us on some gambling before heading up to Pub street for a few beers and games of pool. It seems there is a fairly relaxed atmosphere here, with marijuana being openly advertised in the menu, and “lady drinks” for the hostesses.
After finishing our drinks, and convincing beating Tracey at pool, we head to the night market to get some dinner. We take in the sights and sounds of them market, but turn down the potential food options of bugs, scorpions, and other randomness, instead opting for a couple of chicken legs which we eat back in the room as the rain starts up once again.
Full days route here: