Ride day 45: Siem Reap to Krong Preah Vihear
17 August 2016
An early start for our last morning in Siem Reap. We head to the mechanics next to the hotel to get the bikes serviced (oil change, chains tensioned and greased, and rear left indicator on my bike properly reconnected). A final breakfast buffet in the hotel sets us up for the day, and then an hour or so on the computers planning the route and stop offs for the next week or so, including booking up for the elephant trekking at Mondulkiri Project.
After packing up the bomb site that our room had become, we head down to load the bikes. Unfortunately we find them pinned in by a water delivery tuk tuk. After he moves and we start loading the bikes we are again blocked in by an obnoxious coach driver and his load of teenage European tourists. A few choice expletives are shouted at him to no avail, so in the end it involves a very tight bit of bike shuffling to get ourselves out from the fix.
Riding out of town
The ride out of town see’s us taking a wrong turn and ending up on a dead end back street, revealing that directly behind the fancy tourist area there is a very run down local area. After correcting our wrong turn, we head out of town and grab some petrol on the way to set us up for the day. We pass a series of fabrication and mechanics shops, one of which sells the tuk tuk scooter trailers (a mere US $630 for one).
The first section of the road out of Siem Reap is largely non descript busy highway. After 15 km or so though, this changes and after a left hand turn is replaced with the most fantastic red dirt back road through villages and paddy fields.
There are a lot of signs indicating mine fields, and sadly considerably less signs declaring safe zones where mine fields have been cleared. The road itself is full of big big potholes and deep puddles that in places cover the entire track. We take to following the locals route through the mud, weaving from side to side around huge puddles. On the way we encounter a fair few locals on trailers full of crops, with playful kids at all the basic wooden houses. We also pass an amazing little workshop where 3 men are hand carving huge stone sculptures. As we reach the far end of the dirt track and turn right back on to Tarmac road, we are waved off by three young boys riding their bikes. We continue on up the road where we pass a couple of groups of local farmers with cows pulling their wooden trailers along the road.
At the junction of routes 64,65 and yes… Cambodia Route 66, we stop at a restaurant to have lunch. We’re surprised to see so many minibuses and then tourists inside. Unbeknownst to us we had yet again arrived at a temple without knowing it existed. After our lunch we decide to make use of our last day of our three day Angkor Temple pass to give the temple a quick walk through before setting off on our way. We ride to the temple parking, lock up and walk to the ticket gate. As we hand our tickets to the ranger, he shakes his head and insists we need to pay again. Then informing us that the ticket booth is a few km back down the road. That sealed the fate of this temple, and ensured that we didn’t visit it, since we only had a short amount of time to spare before heading on to complete the days ride.
The afternoons ride sees us heading up route 64 for most of the journey. The road itself is good Tarmac, no potholes and very little traffic, making it a very relaxing ride. Along the roadside are a lot of new rubber plantations, and signs of a lot of tree felling. There are also banana groves and cassava fields dotted around and the occasional corn nearer to small wooden shacks. Under the shacks there seemed to always be family hanging out playing and laughing.
Towards the end of the afternoons ride some amazing cliffs covered in jungle started to rise up to the right of us. These continued all the way to junction of route 62 and then on in to Krong Preah Vihear. Whilst we were taking in the sights, we were also racing against the weather to try and beat the heavy rain which was starting to fall around us.
We manage to locate a nice looking guest house near the roundabout, and once unpacked and changed we head out for some local food – a delicious chicken and rice broth and a couple of beers.
I then notice the family at the table behind us are eating fetus eggs… So I take the chance to order one. When the owner brings it over, they ask us a few questions in Khymer. Whilst I thought I was asking for one egg and then asking for a spoon to eat it with, it seems I had inadvertently ordered 5 of the things!
Now, I will say, whilst not completely disgusting, it is most likely not a culinary experience I will repeat. Breaking open the egg leads to a release of black and green goo. Digging in with a spoon then reveals a boiled egg consistency intermingled with feathers and bones. I manage to wolf down 90% of the egg before putting it down to an experience and downing the remainder of my beer. Tracey wasn’t keen to match me egg for egg, so we call it a night and head home.
Full days route here: