Cambodia – January 2015
In January 2015 I made a guided motorbike tour with Corner Adventures (http://www.corneradventures.com) in Cambodia. Corner Adventures offers several tours in southeast Asia, China, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. They provide Jialing motorbikes (four sidecars and four solo bikes are available) for the tours.
I travel to Cambodia from Frankfurt with Vietnam Airlines to Hanoi and from Hanoi to Siem Reap, a city next to the famous temples of Angkor Wat. Traveltime: more than 30 hours. Willem, our tourguide and co-owner of Corner Adventures, picks up Gerrit, another German participant of the tour, and me from the airport with a sidecar combo.
In Siem Reap we are accommodated in Hotel Mont Royal next to the center for two days.
After the first night in the hotel, Gerrit and I explore Siem Reap and buy some souvenirs. In the afternoon we make a small ride to an almost unknown temple outside Siem Reap with Willem to make familiar with the sidecars. The Jialing have a watercolled single-cylinder enginges with 40 hp. More than enough on the unpaved roads. The sidecar wheel is movable and supports the steering to the right and to the left what makes the combo very comfortable. On paved roads we can go easily with 100 km/h and mor but above 100 km/h the engine doen´t sound healthy (but maybe i´m too sensitive).
The unpaved roads are covered with red and so are we when we are back in the hotel.
In the evening we enjoy the nightlife of Siem Reap. Due to the tourists there is a very busy nightlife with bars and restaurants and a lot of music in Pub Street. We also visit the night market where souvenir shops line up.
The next morning we ride to Angkor Wat with the sidecars but we are not allowed to enter, only vehicles with Cambodian registration are allowed to do so. We return to the hotel leave the sidecars and go to Angkor Wat again with Tuk-Tuks. A good decision, running around more than two hours in bike clothes and boots wouldn´t have been fun.
There are a lot of tourists visiting Angkor Wat but we find some quiet places at the backside of the temple area.
Gerrit decides to visit another temple next to Angkor Wat (known from the movie “Tomb Raider” with Angelina Jolie as Lara Croft). I prefer to have coconut shake and to wait until he returns.
In the afternoon we make another ride around Siem Reap, again on the red, unpaved roads.
In the evening we visit Pub Street again and take our dinner in one of the small street restaurants. Prices are great, 0.75 Dollar for a good Cambodian beer (Angkor), 1.25 Dollar for fried rice. We don´t need Riel, the official Cambodian currency, everyone everywhere in Cambodia accepts US Dollars.
Day 3 – start of our Cambodia loop. 450 km from Siem Reap to Kratie at River Mekong in the east of Cambodia, 100 km on unpaved roads, definitely the hardest day of the loop.
We see a lot of slash-and-burn agriculture, where the fields are prepared for the next seed. Sometime the fires are so close to the raods that we feel the heat.
We want to cross Mekong with a ferry but it doesn´t exist any longer. A brandnew bridge is crossing the river now. Only a small ferry is left at a sidearm of Mekong, too small for the sidecars.
One screw of the chain protector of my combo is lost, Willem repairs it under supervision of interested Cambodians teens.
We arrive in Kratie at dusk, covered with red dust. Unfortunately we don´t see any of the famous river dolphins living in River Mekong.
Next day´s target is Cambodian capitol Phnom Penh. As long as we ride along River Mekong we have to cross a lot of one-way bridges.
It´s 240 km from Kratie to Phnom Penh and we only ride on paved roads. Although we have a lot of breaks for drinking water and having lunch we arrive in the outskirts of Phnom Penh very early. But we need almost an hour from there to the hotel in the center of the capitol.
From Phnom Penh we turn sout-east, direction to Cambodian coastline. It is 250 km to Sihanoukville, a very famous Cambodian backpackers target. On the way we see a lot of single Cambodian farms.
Along the coast we see a lot of boats in small rivers, some for fishing at the sea, some of them typical river boats.
In Sihanoukville we make a rest for one day. Gerrit makes an island-hopping tour with one of the tourists boats, I decide just to relax and make some pictures at the beach.
Accommodation in Sihanoukville is very cheap, it starts from 2 Dollars per night in a bunkhouse. There´s party every night in the town what makes it difficult to sleep.
Our hotel is more comfortable, we have AC in the rooms. But we are located in the center of the party area, 200 m away from the beach.
After our day of rest we turn north, 240 km to Koh Kong at the border to Thailand. The flat country with agriculture turns into hills rain forrest. Up and down, left and right – for me the favourite part of the tour.
Our hotel in Koh Kong is located next to Stung Atay River.
Due to the bad road conditions in Cambodia we do the next part of the trip, 370 km from Koh Kong to Battambang, via Thailand. We leave Cambodia, enter Thailand and ride 210 km on roads in Thailand. The roads are very good, we are very fast and we leave Thailand soon. For me the most boring part of the trip and I am happy to enter Cambodia again, although we have to buy a new visum.
Before we start the last part of our trip, 170 km from Battambang back to Siem Reap, we visit a killing field next to Battambang. In the 1970ies, during the despotism of Khmer Rouge, thousands of Cambodians were killed here. Now we find a memorial and a Buddhist monastry.
After 40 km of our last day´s trip my Jialing stops working. In a scooter workshop of a small village Willem tries to repair it the next two hours, unfortunately without result. We decide that I will join Gerrit in the sidecar, Willem organises the transport of the broken Jialing by pick up to Siem Reap.
We return to Siem Reap without any problems, the broken sidecar arrives some hours later. Gerrit will leave to germany the next morning, I will stay two days longer. The last evening we celebrate in our favourite street restaurant with Cambodian beer and fried rice.
The map of the tour:
Some more impressions from Cambodia: