Phnom Penh - Kampong Cham - Sen Monorom - Kratie - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Discussion in 'Cambodia Road Trip Reports' started by RedNorth, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. RedNorth

    RedNorth Member

    This is entry covers a trip with mates to Mondulkirri and Kratie.

    We did a four day trip on motos, route took us on Highway 6A, 7 then 76 to Sen Monorom in Mondulkirri where we stayed two nights in Nature Lodge. We did a little trip from there to Busra Waterfall, quite large and popular especially with the locals. We saw a photography company doing a healthy trade there dressing tourists up in traditional clothing for photos in front of the falls. The king's birthday was that weekend and it was with shock that we saw on the news the following night that the prime minister had taken the king to Busra falls the night before, merely hours after we'd been there! It was weird they went at night, I'm wondering if it was a particularly full day of rubber plantation tours through the province prior or security fears. Whatever it was, I would have tried to get him there during daylight if I were taking the king on a birthday trip.

    The leg to Mondulkirri was memorable, to say the least. It ranks top of the list on motorcycle adventures, even above my trip through the Cardomoms. It was uneventful until around about here, where a head on between a Vietnamese tourist bus and a truck had occurred. It was a disaster zone. Initially I wanted no part in it, figuring it would be dangerous being on such a scene as a foreigner. But the others stopped and started to help pull people out of the bus. A couple had died and there were plenty of battered bodies. Since I was the only one with a decent first aid kit (thanks EWB!) they told me to come help. I'm glad I did in the end as there was a quite wounded gentleman who couldn't speak and was only barely responding to our attempts to raise any kind of response. Much of the time when we were tending to him I thought he was on the way out, but that's probably because of my inexperience with first aid. I can say this about first aid courses now - sure they'll teach you the mechanics of administering it but nothing about the panic you feel trying to help someone who's battered, broken, covered in blood, can't speak your language, can't speak at all anyway because he's so injured and you're encircled by 50 curious, mute, picture snapping locals.

    Anyway, we put a splint on his left arm which seemed broken and had two large puncture wounds (which almost swallowed my finger when I was using the pathetic little alcohol swabs), we put a bandage round his head to stop the blood flowing into his eyes from the cuts oh and I nearly forgot the worst bit. The skin/flesh across the top of his left hand had been ripped off, likely because of glass from somewhere. It was quite shocking seeing that but probably just as perturbing that he was so silent and non responsive. I would have been wild with pain. Perhaps he had been already, and now he was in shock. Anyway, there was a bandage in the kit attached to a massive piece of absorbent padding. I'd not understood its usefulness until then.

    So, once we'd finished all of our bandaging and splinting and worrying, he was actually starting to come round a bit. I was expecting him to start writhing and flailing about but he just started moaning a bit and pointing toward his left leg. This was probably also broken and we simply let him keep it bent, and didn't bother it anymore. We probably should have tried to go full ER and cut his pant leg off to see if there was anything we could do but I'd actually run out of bandages and it didn't seem to be bleeding too much so we just left it. Also the next lot of 'ambulances' was coming so we put him in and then took off. The 'ambulances' weren't so much that as hospital taxis, really. They contained no paramedics, just a stretcher that had blood on it already and shards of glass. Four other less injured people got in it before we could load him in so we had to wait for one of them to get out of the way. And off he went.

    We'll never know what happened to him. There were a couple of English speaking Khmers there that helped out and also one Vietnamese that could speak English. They also knew a bit of each other's languages and so there was a bit of communication going on. The main thing we all decided to do was use his phone to call his family or friends. None of us could decipher which was family so we just phoned a recently called number of his. Honestly I can't remember what the outcome of that was but I remember someone being told that he was in a crash and was heading to Phnom Penh.

    But that wasn't all. Things went pretty well until it got dark, soon after which it started to bucket down with rain. This was a real Southeast Asian thunderstorm, so your average nightly rain hereabouts but a frontpage "OMG once in a decade cataclysm!!!!" back home. When the other two hired their bikes they also got helmets. Very bad ones. One didn't have a visor. The other had a visor but it was heavily tinted. Hence neither of them had any eye protection, essential for riding through a heavy downpour. So we were toodling along in the quite spectacular show, torrents of rain pelting down, visibility down to about 10m, occasional sheet lightning splitting the sky when one of the guys decides he's had enough and ducks for cover under a shop roof by the side of the road. This was perfectly understandable, the conditions were horrendous and he was probably going blind. Unfortunately, he wasn't at the front of the group and we were at the back. The other guy rode on completely unawares. We decided to stick with him and see if we could wait it out a bit. I was pretty worried though as we would have a great deal of difficulty finding the other rider if he had any trouble ... such as going off the side of the road in a ditch.

    We waited a while and when it reduced from Clydesdales and dumptrucks to mere cats and dogs we ventured out, again at about 15km/h. At this point we were well and truly in survival mode :) I wasn't really thinking, just trying to single mindedly plod along, keep an eye out rather pointlessly for hazards and make sure we kept together. About 10 minutes up the road we came across another clutch of huts and shops and lo and behold the other rider was happily standing there being looked after by a bunch of friendly shopkeepers! All my dreams came true at that moment. It was simultaneously the worst and the best ride of my life. So we all convened and various agreements were made about sticking together but I think no one could be blamed given how torrential it was and the poor equipment some had. We sat it out a bit more, bought some of those awesome ponchos that Jeremy modeled in the Top Gear adventure through Vietnam, then decided to plod along some more when it let off a bit. Another worry was that it was now getting quite late and so I kept calling Nature Lodge, where we'd booked to stay in Sen Monorom, to make sure they knew we were coming ... it would have sucked to have nowhere to stay after all this!

    Anyhow, once we persisted a bit more we actually rode out of the thunderstorm. After that the trip was actually quite nice. There was mist across the road and, combined with the occasional lightning strike, it was quite magical. A suitably surreal, calm finish to the ride.

    I've written enough now, that's really the highlight. We spend a couple of fantastic nights at Nature Lodge, enjoyed the falls then took the same road back to Snoul then hit Hwy 7 up to Kratie, saw some dolphins then headed back home. Oh, I forgot to mention that the guy that rode off ahead during the rain did actually fall off his bike and break a rib, and the next day the other guy fell off his bike and broke his clutch lever.

    Later edit: another thing I should mention is we came across the bunch of soldiers that shot at (and killed one 14 y/o girl) the so called secessionists in Kratie who were protesting an eviction. Here's the and a news report. another video of the trip in general:

     
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