Lightemup's Cambodia trip June 08

Discussion in 'Cambodia Road Trip Reports' started by Lightemup, Jul 8, 2008.

  1. Lightemup

    Lightemup Ol'Timer

    Ok, since I've read a couple of magnificent trip report on this forum, I thought it might be time to give something back to the community.

    I rode from Phuket on the 4th June to Bangkok and enjoyed a couple of nights out on the town and some last minute shopping of camping gear (Can you believe its impossible to find a can of cooking gas for a Jetboil stove in all of BKK?)

    I went by the Dirt Shop in BKK a couple of times to get some armor, gloves and goggles for the Hidden Cambodia (HC) tour company in Siem Reap, with who I was taking a tour with a friend of mine, who would be flying in.

    Finally, on the 9th June I entered Cambodia at the Aranyaphrapet/Poi Pet border. Like mentioned in the other cambodia trip report, the road from Poi Pet to Siem Reap is in horrendous condition. and note the difference on the back fo the bike in these two pics?



    Yep, licenseplate missing....The bad condition of the road had rattled my license plate off, and I wasnt keen on going back 120 km on that road to see if I could find it again as the time was approaching 1500 in the afternoon. So carried on without it for the rest of the trip.

    In Siem Reap, I met up with HC and my friend and we had a talk about the route we were going to take, based on our experience levels. Since its the rainy season, the trails are in bad condition, with lots of flooding. So the route was planned taking that into account or so we thought...


    Next day we went for a tour at Angkor Wat and some of the other temples in the Angkor area. Impressive is the word I find fitting best to describe Angkor Wat.


    Yours truly

    Next day we start our HC tour. We are 4 in total, my friend Erik and myself, plus a guide and a mechanic.

    We stop at this little hut after about an hour to get something to drink and wait for the mechanic to catch up with us, as he had to go back to HC to get something.


    When he catches up, we continue to a place where they carved out some of the sandstone blocks that was used to build Angkor Wat and the other temples.


    After that, we ride though some jungle trails having great fun and end up on top of a hill where they have found some carvings and sculptures.



    At the end of the first day reach Anglong Veang, where we check into a guesthouse and then take a stroll through the local market.

    They have the same garbage disposal system here as they do in many places in Thailand, just pile it up and forget about it. This was taken just beside the fresh fish area of the market, nice smell...


    Next morning, we drive up to Pol Pots gravesite and after that we visited the house/bunker up in the hills where he lived the last years of his life.



    Coming down from the hills, we stop for refreshments at a small bordercrossing on the Cambodia-Thai border.


    After that, the goal of the day is to reach the Preah Vihear temple, so a long drive is on. At one point we stop for a break and notice the break pads are gone on one of the bikes. So the mechanic starts to work.


    Going up the hill to Preah Vihear temple, I get another bike, as the one I was given(Yamaha Raid) isnt capable of carrying my fat ass up the hill, so I get the mechanics bike (XR250) and right after that I overshoot a corner, the tires then catch the small sidewall of the road and I slowly loose balance and fall over the side of the road into the brush and then off an 2 meter overhang, where I, after having checked myself for any broken bones, starts to laugh uncontrollably. Fortunately for me, the bike stayed on the road, roadside brush and didnt come crashing down on me No pictures of that, sorry. But I consider myself very lucky about the incident.

    Preah Vihear temple, actually, one of the 4 inline temples at Preah Vihear.


    Yours truly posing at the edge of the cliff, where there is a stunning view of the surround low land. There is about a 530 meter elevation difference from the low land to the hilltop, and youre staring right down 500 meters at the cliff edge. Amazing view.


    There is a demining operation going on around the entire temple area and there is a small camp just down the first stair of the temple, with a small market and a "hotel" we check into...In reality, its a wooden house, with some rooms, seperated by thin woodwalls and a bed, with mattress, pillows, mozzie net and my all time favorite blanket. Shower is a water bucket out back, and a smaller bucket to pour water over yourself...Hey, its just like being back in the army again. I love it.

    To be continued...
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  3. Lightemup

    Lightemup Ol'Timer

    Next morning, we cross the border into Thailand, which is right at the end of the little camp we stayed in over night. We go to the market and get a nice breakfast and go back across the border again. No passport needed to do this.

    Once we are back from breakfast, we saddle up and descend the hill. Before heading off, I make the comment that we should drive safely today, referencing my fall the day before and noting that this day was in fact Friday the 13th.
    That day we were supposed to get to Koh Ker, through some intricate trails in the jungle. Which should take about half a day.
    In reality, we spent the next two days riding through the jungle with lots of mud and water and broken down bikes.

    This is the first little obstacle we come across, having turned off the main dirt road.

    Yes, its definitely rainy season, and the trail has been cut to make a connection between the rice fields on each side of the trail.

    We get across by pulling and pushing each other up the other side.

    We spend all day riding through pure mud and taking several detours to get around nasty parts, making very little progress.

    Another water obstacle:
    Our guide and mechanic asses the obstacle and how to best negotiate it.
    We opt to push/carry the bikes across to the bridge in the middle of the water, and then the drive on some planks into water to the other side, where the level is lower.


    Funny, no matter how far out in the jungle you are, struggling with a big dirtbike with proper knobbies, a local will come along balancing beautifully on his Honda Dream with slick road tires and with a load on the back exceeding any specifications making everything seems so easy.


    We are now at late afternoon and my hydration bladder is empty, we havent had lunch, so sugar levels are low and then we reach a stream, thats overflowed and we have to carry the bikes across. with bamboo sticks through the wheels and 4 people carrying it. I get a local woman, sitting in a farm tractor to take some pics of us, as she is waiting for someone to come from the other side to help her over. Her engine would be flooded going through, so she patiently waits.


    We are experiencing many stalled engines and falls and at one point my friends bike's battery dies and we have to push start it. My battery died later on also, and Ive never ridden with a kick start before, so that frustrates me further when Im given a bike that has one of those, and it also continually stalls.



    At one point we are so tired and in need of water, food and sugar, that we stop at a small village the trail goes through, actually more like a row of wooden huts along the trail.
    There is a small mom/pop shop, and we ask them if we can eat there and maybe sleep somewhere in the village for the night.
    I down 3 cokes immediately to replenish my thirst and glucose level and then get out of my wet riding gear.
    The family cooked up an excellent meal of fried pork and a chicken, that they killed out back right after we ordered it...Funny, it is stuff like that you joke about in restaurants, when the food is taking a long time to arrive to your table. Here its just the order of the day. Refreshing.


    That night we "sleep" on the outside porch of a wooden hut, with two open sides and our feet sticking out in the night. Sleep isnt really what we get a lot of, and we're convinced, if we dont get malaria from this night, then we will never get malaria..


    To be continued..
  4. Lightemup

    Lightemup Ol'Timer

    Next morning, we prep the bikes and head off again.


    Luckily it hasnt rained during the night, so the track gets relatively drier and better as we progress, but still lots of mud and detours, though no more river crossings for this part.

    Suddenly my friend on his bike, the XR, stops and turns out, the chain has broken and smashed a hole in the engine, so oil is pouring out.
    A local comes out of nowhere and offers to help the mechanic out with the chain and engine repair.
    Chain gets fixed, engine crack sealed with super glue and a cigarette in some weird way.


    Having fixed that problem we move on again, then at somepoint, the Yamaha raid finally succumbs to the stress and must be towed out of the jungle. Two khmer scarves get bound together and off we go.


    After some hours of a lot of struggling with the towed bike, we finally decide that, enough is enough, and get a local farm tractor to transport it out of the jungle.

    We finally make it out of the jungle and wait at a nearby town, for two replacement bikes to come up from Siem Reap. The XR and the Yamaha Raid get replaced and we eventually make it to Koh Ker at around 1800.

    To be continued..
  5. Lightemup

    Lightemup Ol'Timer

    Next morning we go to see the Koh Ker temples, Im about templed out at this point, so I'll spare you for more temple pictures, but again, with all the temples we went to there is extensive demining operations going on in that area, something that is very common in the northern, western and eastern part of the country we get told.

    I get to like the XR that Im was given on the ascent to Preah Vihear the other days and get my friend to take a pic of me, when we are stopped while the mechanic is working on a broken accelerator cable for the second time that day.


    That day we go to Kampong Thum, where there are some other temples to see and a buddha foot print we go take a look at the next day.
    Good road to Kampon Thum.


    We get rooms at Arunas hotel and for the first time in 5 days we get a chance to dry our clothes. Food at Arunas restaurant is ok, and we get told there is a bar on the top floor, so my friend and I decide to go check it out...Turns out to be a full karaoke/shorttime operation going on, and we get a bit intimidated by the amount of girls available there.
    Too tired to perform, we settle for some beers instead and go to bed early (My friends here in Phuket would hassle me no end if they got to know this fact...LivinLOS, zip it)

    Next day we go to Wat Phnum Santuk, where there is a temple on a hilltop, and a buddha footprint that people come to see and pray/worship/whatever at for good luck I guess.
    Apparently there are 4 of these footprints in Cambodia and they honestly believe its Buddhas real footprint. I must admit, Im kinda skeptical regarding this.
    Buddha footprint:

    After having see the footprint, we head towards Siem Reap on paved road all the way. Eventually my bike dies a slow death 5 km outside of Siem Reap. Figuring its just lack of gas, we refuel it, and give it a go again, however Im still not able to drive more than 10 km/h so we limp it back to HC HQ.


    This concludes the trip report.
    The next couple of weeks, following the HC tour, I spent driving around on my own bike going to Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh again and back to Siem Reap and back to Phuket via Poipet, BKK and so on.
    Somehow I didnt take very many pictures in this period, as I spent about a week and a half in Phnom Penh, because the girls kept me busy there, And the weather in Sihanoukville was very rainy, resulted I guess from afterspill from the tropical storm that hit the Philippines, so the trip report ends here.

    Now that Ive received the GT rider Laos PDR map, I will give Laos a go, maybe next month.
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Shyte, that really is a good report & first class adventure ride. (You're giving Big 'n Tall a run for his money I think.) Well done.

    Now I wonder how you are going to beat this Cambo trip - it will probably be a while before you do another wild wet one like that eh?

    Hope you like the Laos map & that it brings you hundreds of hours & kms of good riding.

    Many thanks for contributing.
  7. daewoo

    daewoo Ol'Timer


    hahahaha... I always laugh about these pussys that pay all that extra money for a tour, when you can hire the bike and buy food yourself for about 1/4 the price... then I read about the drama you went through, and wonder if someone 'self supported' wouldn't have turned around at the first creek...

    Great read, good on you for pushing through...

    HC get pretty good write ups, but a mate who did a 5 day ride with them broke 3 frames on their XRs... I wonder if their bikes are just too well used for these sorts of adventures...

    hope you get over the malaria...

  8. Lightemup

    Lightemup Ol'Timer

    A couple of buddies based here in Phuket wanted to do it, and I just tagged along, as I was planning to go to Cambodia anyway. And I thought it might be fun to ride together with them.

    Yeah its definitely cheaper on your own, and Im probably not going with a guided tour again, however the information and knowledge that the guide had on the area, can not be beat with a lonely planet travel guide.

    Next time Im going to Cambodia, I'll try to go in the dry season if possible as I dont want to get stuck in the jungle with no cell reception on my own.

    The bikes at HC are run down, thats for sure, they see some hard use.

    And BTW we didnt get malaria, so all is good.

    After a short stint to Pattaya next week with some mates, Im thinking of continuing up north and see that part of Thailand.
    I would like to do Laos in mid to late august on my own also.

    Anyone know where to get some trail tracks for Garmin GPS's?
    Davidfl, I believe youre probably the biggest source of those, any chance?
  9. cdrw

    cdrw Ol'Timer

    I enjoyed the report and the pictures. Nice job!

    Yep...surely cheaper traveling without a guide and support, however
    based on your report, the bike problems and the wet conditions, if
    you'd gone without them, you might still be out there... :D
  10. Moto-Rex

    Moto-Rex Ol'Timer

    Nice report there Lightemup, looks like you had fun time in the Cambodian mud.
    I heading to Seam Reap tomorrow myself, so you've given me a few ideas of with direction to head.

    Love the photo with the bridge in the middle of the river/lake.

    Also, apart from the obvious problems with the bikes, do you think the trip was well organized?

    By not staying at the karaoke/shorttime bar shows you a man of good morals and integrity which is two quality's sadly lacking in many of BM's here. Most here wouldn't have let a bike ride get in the way of a good karaoke night. BTW do you remember the name of the road were this bar is located? :roll:

    Regarding Malaria, as long as you had more than 3 beers before you went to bed you will be OK. Simply because beer fixers everything.

    Again Lightemup....... great report. Rex.
  11. BignTall

    BignTall Ol'Timer

    Fantastic report Lightemup!!! Love the jungle pics on the dirt bikes. I'm with you, the road from poipet to Siem Reap is horrid.

    I think you'll love Laos. After spending 3 weeks off road in Camodia and a month in laos I feel laos had so much moore to offer. however I could of just been riding in the wrong areas of Cambodia.

    Once again thanks for the report.
  12. nspec

    nspec New Member

    Hi Guys,
    My 1st post on the forum.

    Hoping someone can advise if the road from Poi Pet to Sisophon and then down to Battamburg is usable on a large road bike, (not an off roader).

    I've driven all over Thailand, (including a goat track down the side of a mountain one time), so I am used to the occasional unintentional off road adventure. Planning on crossing the border early August, if anyone has any advice it will be much appreciated.
  13. dancingroads

    dancingroads Active Member

    Nice report, but..

    eek! That is not a road in Cambodia where you want to go off into the brush :shock:
  14. Lightemup

    Lightemup Ol'Timer

    Yeah, I know, lots of demining around that temple going on.

    I didnt exactly plan to drop though :)
  15. ray23

    ray23 Ol'Timer

    For a first trip report that was outstanding thanks for sharing it

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