Cambodia Loop Run

Discussion in 'Cambodia Road Trip Reports' started by john, Feb 12, 2004.

  1. john

    john Ol'Timer

    The Participants- Joe, Andy, Robert
    The Bikes- One Honda African Twin 750 and Two BMW RS 1150's

    We departed Pattaya on the 29th of January at 0730. Our goal that day, was Sihanoukville. Once we made our way over to Route 36 it was pretty much of a blast down the road, connecting with Route 3 into Trat and then connecting with Route 318 into Hat Lek. We arrived at Hat Lek at 1100 and had a leasurely lunch. About 1230 we were at the Thai/Cambodia border crossing.
    We stamped out of Thailand quickly, as there were very few people crossing at that time. Stamping into Cambodia was a bit more of a problem. The Cambodian Visa costs 1000 baht. The Officials ask for 1100 baht and just smile when you ask for a receipt. So it is up to you, what your time is worth. We payed and moved on. As we were getting on out bikes, we were waved into the Customs office. This is a separate office from Imigration/Visa office. As the African Twin had Thai Registry they didn't have any problems with it. I didn't have to fillout any paperwork, for my bike to enter Cambodia. In regards to the two BMW's one had a Australian plate and the other had nothing. There was one Khmer who spoke english. The Officials wanted to see a "Carnet". As I understand it, this is not a requirement to enter a bike into Cambodia. It appeared that a "tip" may have moved the process along, although non was asked for directly. After about 30 minutes of talk, we were waved out the door. Thinking we had run the guantlet we left with smiles on our faces. Traveling down the road past the Thai owned casinos, were were stopped at a check point and the process started all over again. A couple of Officials came and went and after many handphone calls we were again waved on our way. We didn't waste anytime with long good byes. I looked at my watch and it was 1430. Down the road a bit one of the BMW's stopped. It seem he had forgotten his riding jacket and had to return for it. Over the bridge and into Koh Kong, I noticed that the statue, that glorified the Khmer Rouge soldiers, was gone. It had been at the base of the bridge, when I had visited 2 years before.
    A few lefts and rights and we were on the road to Sihanoukville. As Jim described, it in his post, "Phnom Penh-Pattaya and Return", it had deteriorated since being built by the Thai Army, about one year ago. After another rainy season without any maintenance it may become a new goat's path. We were traveling about as quickly as possible, as we had 4 river crossing to make that day. Other than the hard concrete edges, where the bridges meet the washed out roadway, the African Twin plowed thru in good order. At the speeds we were going, 40-90 KPH it was a bit hard on the BM's. If we would have had the time, we could have slowed down a bit. It cost us 50 baht each for the river crossings. I guess the guys based in Cambodia got the locals rate, even with the skin tax. The first two river crossing were aboard car ferries and the last two were aboard ferries consisting of, two small boats lashed together, with a platform built on top. It was quite humorous to watch our boarding operations and other than some hurt pride, there was no damage. As we were running late, our last river crossing was made in the dark. The last hour and a half of our ride into Sihanoukville was and introduction of life in Cambodia after dark. In addition to the normal traffic on the highway of motorbikes,buses,cars and 18 wheel trucks, there were dogs, oxcarts and people walking on the highway. Also the edge of the tarmac roadway becomes a place to sit and socialize and watch TV. I observed all this as I was trying to keep up with the BM's. That first beer, after arriving at thesmallhotel, sure tasted good. There is a bit of entertainment after dark in Sihanoukville. A good place to start is next door at the roof top Fishermans Den. I'll let you find the rest.
    Friday was spent sightseeing in Sihanoukville.
    Saturday be made a quick blast up Route 4 to Phnom Penh. It is a good two lane highway that was crowded. It took us 2.5 hours.
    Biker Central in Phnom Penh is at the California 2 Hotel. It is located on the river front. This is a good place to stay and the food is good too. Best to book ahead, as Jim has built up a steady clientele. He was full at the time we arrivied, so we stayed a couple of blocks away, at the recently opened River Star Hotel. This is a clean ok Hotel. $25/28 a night for A/C, Hot Water and Cable. Friendly staff. There are many good day trips form Phnom Penh. Check with Jim at the California 2 for updates and options. There are usually several riders coming and going as well. In Cambodia, the bike of choice is the 250. But as the roads are being upgraded rapidly, I wonder how long it will it will be before there are some larger bikes being riden there. There are a couple of good rental bike shops in Phnom Penh. There are several clubs in Phnom Penh. Probably the two best known ones are Sharkys (early) and Martini's (late). Pnom Penh was busy. There were many foreigner tourists about and many of the streets had been repaired and buildings occupied. As it had been a year since I had been there, I noticed a much safer feel to the place.
    Monday saw us off to Siem Reap (Anckor Wat). Over the Japanese Bridge and up Route 6. The trip is about 300 klicks and it took us about 5 hours. Route 6 in under reconstruction, so at this time the road surface is a bit of everything, from mud to 2 lane super highway. By next year, if this reconstruction keeps progressing at it's current rate, there maybe a completed 2 lane super highway. I found, in many ways this the most interesting part of the trip. As we left the busy Phnom Penh we were surrounded by many people, with the favorite mode of transportation being the step-thru motorbike. As we got out into the country, on the North Eastern side of Lake Tonle Sap, the landscape became rural. The power poles and lines went away. The motorbikes decrease and were replaced by bicycles. In other villages the horse drawn carts were replaced by ox drawn carts and motorbikes were completely replaced by bicycles. The village we took a snowcone/water stop at as a Stone Cutters village. As I recall, this was the hottest part of the trip, temperature wise that is. Later, as we neared Siem Reap, the processed reversed itself and we returned to "modern civilization". Siem Reap had a good feel to it. We stayed at the Ivy Guesthouse, located in the old section of town, with it's French Colonian Architecture. A bit pricey at $25 a night, but with A/C Hot Water and Cable. I'm not a back packer. There are many Guesthouses and Restaurants to choose from in this, several block area. Also several physical massage places to take care of any aches and pains. We visited Anckor Wat on Tuesday. I have visited many temple ruins in the past, so to some extent it was the "seen one temple and you're seen them all" syndrome. But if you are in Cambodia and have the time, it is worth a visit. Anckor Wat itself is a massive structure. There is quite a variety in the theme's of the differnent temple ruins. If you are into Temple ruins, it will take you several days to see them all. As I am within a days ride, I plan to visit again.
    Wednesday saw us off to the border and a return to Thailand. Robert and Andy to Chiang Mai via Bangkok and myself back to Pattaya. As I recall, it is was about a 3 hour ride to Poipet. leaving Siem Reap on Route 6 and changing to Route 5 at Sisophan. As on the road from Phnom Penh, this road is under reconstruction. It was mostly dirt and some mud after an earlier rain. The border crossing at Poipet/Aranyaprathet is a bit chaotic and hot. I took us about 10 seconds to stamp out of Cambodia. On the Thai side it was a simple process to stamp back into Thailand, except for the long line. The Customs Officials, on the Thai side, were friendly and helpful towards us, as we filled out the necessary forms to reenter Thailand, with our bikes. We stopped for lunch in Aran and I took off on my own, as I wanted to arrive in Pattaya before dark. I just made it at 1800. My route from Aran was route 33 to 304 connecting to 331 and finally 36. Much of these roads are divided highway or under construction to be divided highway. Robert and Andy took a bit more time for lunch and arrived into Bangkok after dark.
    It was a good loop trip and I plan to be back.

    Places to stay
    [email][/email] (Henrik)
    Phnom (Jim)
    One book I would recommend is "Adventure Cambodia" by Matt Jacobson and Frank Visakey. The copy I have is a bit date, published in 2001, but I heard that they have a updated edition comng out soon if not already.
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  3. JimCA2

    JimCA2 Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the plug. lots of guys doing Tbeng Meanchey and Koh Ker before the new road from siem reap connects all the way. Also Pailin border crossing open now to foreigners and should be a quicker option in the future via battambang, however a buddy of mine in Pailin advises that if you dont have a US, Aussie, English passport (recent gulf war allies) there will be visa hassles at this crossing. A few temples worth seeing in the battambang area. Pailin to Battambang mostly hard pack and the road to pnh from battambang is almost completely paved, finished.(Pousat-Kampong Chhnang a little rough)

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