Hello. I am in Phnom Phen, the capital of Cambodia. I see it has been just over a couple of weeks since I wrote last.
I will begin with my first day riding; a bit of a shock back into my vagabonding ways. After checking out of my hotel I began the ride out of Bangkok, through heavy traffic. It took almost 2 hours to cross the city and find the correct road. The road heading east was a busy dual carriageway that I followed all afternoon. About 20km from my destination (the name escapes me) a huge downpour hit, soaking me before I could find shelter. I holed up there for an hour then carried on the ride in lighter rain to the city. I spent over an hour finding the 3 hotels in town and being told they were all full. I weighed up my options, ate some dinner (overpriced and with lots of sleazy men perving on the waitresses) before spinning on in the dark. After about 15km of looking for a campsite I found a railway crossing the road and put up my mosquito net there for a night of being woken every hour by trains overhead. A bit of a change from having huge beds, a fridge and a shower. Anyway the riding to the border improved the further from Bangkok I got, patches of green becoming more frequent.
The border crossing was a bit of a hassle as I accidentally left Thailand without an exit stamp, just riding through and nobody stopped me. After some hassle I eventually I got back in, had my passport stamped and then bumped in Jerome, they Swiss guy I trekked with.
My first impressions of Cambodia were good, the people were friendly, the roads less busy and there was more countryside to be seen. The food isn’t so good though. When I eat a good meal I try to note it down to remind myself of it. In Thailand here is what I found noteworthy: A rice noodle soup on the roadside near Chaing Rai with an especially chickeny broth and bean sprouts. A breakfast of steamed rice, rich stewed beef in coconut and cucumber in Chiang Rai. A mixture of seafood stir fried with holy basil and chilli (it’s also good with crispy pork) that made an excellent lunch on the beach with steamed rice. I also had some really good barbecued meats, little pork lollipops and chicken served with a sweet, spicy soy dipping sauce and sticky rice. Cambodian food seems a lot simpler, still a lot of noodle soups (of varying qualities) and rice served with simple stews, like pork and cabbage in a light sweet broth. However one of the downsides of eating all this meat compared with India and Nepal is that I have picked up a couple of stomach bugs, so far too problematic though.
So what have I done in Cambodia. The first place I went to was Siem Reap, the city near Angkor, an area of ancient temples from the 12th to 14th centuries. The temples were expensive to visit at $20 for a day (plus an hour or two the evening before) but definitely worth it. The temples were impressively large from a distance and well balanced aesthetically. From close up the detailing on the stone is even more impressive. One temple had huge faces of Buddha carved in it, another was being overtaken by tree roots that slump over the stone (*EDIT – They are not faces of Buddha but probably of King Jayavarman*). Despite being a popular tourist attraction I found it pretty peaceful, especially the ground set in forest with moats and a river running through it.
I stayed a few nights in Siem Reap and met some nice people and then made my way here in 4 leisurely days riding. I will leave tomorrow for the coast and bit of beach life.
I have uploaded my Nepal and Thailand photos, not enough time for Angkor yet. You can see them by clicking on Media above.