Famous Route 66 disappearing

Discussion in 'Cambodia Road Trip Reports' started by Bert on the bike, Feb 21, 2008.

  1. Bert on the bike

    Bert on the bike Ol'Timer

    The famous route 66 in Cambodia from Beng Melea to Preah Khan and onwards to Phnom Dek was the one trail we wanted to drive on our trip last week through Cambodia (full trip report will follow soon). The trail is said to be one of the most difficult once (a no go in the rainy season) and during our last trip in October we could not find the trail in the first place. Thanks to one of the GT-riders members (thanks Auke) we now had a map in the GPS to follow the trail.

    One Tuesday we went back to Sieam Reap from Tbeng Meanchey to check out Murray’s bike with the plan to take on the Route 66 on Thursday. Since we were passing Beng Melea, had some time to spare due to the good road conditions and Michael had not seen this very worthwhile temple, we decided that he would visit the temple and Murray and myself would look for the start of route 66 which we could not find in October.

    The route starts around one kilometer past the food stalls at the entrance of the Beng Melea temple. When we arrived we were very surprised. Where the road used to turn left back to the temple a complete new dirt road, 6-8 meter wide in perfect conditions was going straight in to the jungle. We checked the GPS, found the entrance to the original route 66 just left of the new road (see picture) and drove the new road for some 8 km’s. We talked several times to the local people and found out (half English, 25% Khmer, 25% hand signals) that the road was for the tourist minivans to bring them to the 12th century bridge west of Khvao and all the way to Preah Khan. One said it was 30 km finished, the other said it was already 60 km’s finished.

    The old entrance on the left, the new road on the right

    When we took the 66 on Thursday we found that around 12 km’s of this road was finished. We saw 2 separate de-mining groups working on getting more area cleared. After the 12 km’s you can continue on the original route 66 which until Khvao is not that difficult but from Khvao to Preah Khan consists of very small trails with (not too many) patches of soft sand and a lot of side tracks. These side tracks sometimes come back to the main track sometimes lead in a complete different direction. A GPS to track whether you are still close to the route (sometimes we had 200 m deviation but came back to the main track further down) is a necessity if you not have a guide who knows the route.

    New road

    The trail is very beautiful to drive with everything in it you can ask for (see trip report). It is a pity that a new road is constructed for the minivans since it is a dirt bike paradise. We understand that you can not stop development but want to tell everybody:

    Old route 66 before Khvao close to 12th century Khmer bridge

    Take the route 66 now if you have the chance before it becomes a shadow of itself like the one in the US.

    You will not regret it!
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  3. xen

    xen Member

    Any new info on the work done?

    Can you still take the old road or does the new road go overtop?

    I am planning to do a ride on route 66 early-mid April.
  4. Bert on the bike

    Bert on the bike Ol'Timer


    When we were there last year they progressed around 12 km starting from Tbeng Melea. They had 2 de-mining groups working in front but that work goes slow. I do not know how far they have progressed but I think that it will not be further then Kvao. Then the most beautiful part is still ahead of you.

    Have a good trip and let us know how it was

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