Phnom Penh-Luang Phabang-Chiangmai-back to PP

Discussion in 'Cambodia Road Trip Reports' started by sirmotorbike, Aug 29, 2004.

  1. sirmotorbike

    sirmotorbike Member

    This report is for part of a 3 month trip I made from Phnom Penh to Luang Phabang, Chiang Mai, and back to Phnom Penh via Siem Reap & Battambang starting in April 2004. Starting in Phnom Penh, I followed the west bank of the Mekong to Kampong Cham, Leaving the Highway at Roka Kaong Pi, onto a good, not to heavily traveled, but not particularly interesting dirt road. From Kampong Cham I took Highway 7 and then 73, an excellent (but dusty) dirt road, to Chlong (I have been told by several sources that this section is impassable now (August) due to rain). From Chlong to Kratie the trafic was pretty heavy and by the time I got to Kratie I was a walking dirtball. I was taken prisoner by a local female in Roka Kandal (near Kratie)and ended up spending a couple of weeks there, just long enough, I was later to find out, for some big thunderstorms to come along and turn the roads north of there into mud bogs.
    After making it about 1/3 of the way to Stung Treng on the HIGHWAY (chuckle, snort), through large deep mud puddles stretching across the entire road, and falling into one at one point, I began to rethink my strategy. It was about 3 O'clock, I had a ways to go, I was making about 5km/hr, and I didn't know how much worse (or better) it might get. OK, so I'm a pansy, but I don't have anything to proove. Anyway I turned around and went back to Kratie, cleaned myself up, had a few refreshments (beer) and after a good nights sleep, caught the speedboat to Stung Treng. Sorry I can't remember how much this cost but I remember it seemed flat out exhorbitant. The part I remember most was it was $5.00 just to load the bike onto the boat, and another $3.00 to unload it in Stung Treng. Anyway I didn't feel like doing it myself and risk dumping it into the Mekong.
    The guesthouses sure are grungy in Stung Treng, unless you can afford the one decent hotel (not me). So after about a week in Stung Treng recovering from some illness (still don't know what it was), and hearing that the road to the Lao border was just as bad as the road to Kratie I loaded the bike onto a slow boat (much more resonable and had a fun trip) to the border. On the Camodian side the customs guy asked me for some paperwork for my bike. I showed him my registration card, but he kept asking for something else (still don't know what he wanted). After a bunch of hemming and hawing (and paying him $3.00) he let me go with the warning that he didn't know if they were going to let me in on the Lao side of the border. Onward ho!
    On the Lao side I payed a bunch of fellows a few bucks to take the bike ashore, but still ended up doing most of the work myself. I went to the checkpoint and had my Passport stamped, and then went back for the bike, but I had to have a few beers first of course. When I finally got going again, EGADS! there wasn't anybody at the checpoint anymore. It was mid Saturday afternoon, I guess they went home. Well no problem, I just went trucking right through. God!! what beautiful roads, after 8 months in Cambodia. Without going into all my little adventures along the way, It was smooth sailing to Vientiane. After a few days there it was onward to Luang Phabang, with a few stops and side trips here and there. Still great roads and spectacular scenery, but the rainy season had arrived. In Luang Phabang I dug out my rain jacket, and bought a plastic tarp for my luggage. From Luang Phabang I made a few trips, to Xaiaboury, to Highway 1 via Pak Xeng, and other short trips around the vicinity. Dang!, even the backroads are good there. After enjoying the Luang Phabang area, I had to get back to Vientiane to make my exit before my visa expired. Checking out at Lao Customs they asked me for the import papers for my bike. I explained to several diferent people how the guys at the border when I entered just waved me through. Finally, after looking like he was about ready to blow a fuse the last one just waved me through with a disgusted look on his face.
    On the Thai side, it was just a bunch of buracratic rigamoral, but no real problem. I decided to spend a couple of days in Koh Kong because I wanted a break from the rain. Not a bad little town. A few days later, I was off again, and made it to Sukhothai the first day, and then north to Chiang Mai he next, all nice Highway and able to make good time when I wasn't beeing deluged with rain. I spent 3 weeks in Chiang Mai, but didn't really go anywhere because I was trying to conserve what was left of my chain, and I was having a good time in Chiang Mai anyway. I tried but was unable to find the right sprockets for my moto. Goodwill M/c Hire, Joes Bike Team offered to cut the teath off of the ones I had and weld some new ones on, but I decided to just wait til I got back to Cambodia. Anyway when I was running out of time I loaded the bike onto the train south and got off north of Bangkok where the road takes off to Cambodia. When I got to the border, it was a bueracratic runaround, probably mainly because I didn't know what to do, or where to go, and in which order, and I don't speak any Thai. Next time I think insted of trying to figure things out by myself when I arrive I'll just go untill somebody stops me. Off to Cambodia.
    Ahh, finally back to the land where nobody cares about anything (except money). Don't I need to fill something out? Oh, I guess if you want to you can go in there. Shouldn't I get a stamp or something? Oh, ok, if you want one, here. Is that it? oh yeah go ahead. Oh boy, back to the crappy Cambodian roads, I knew there was a reason I bought a dirt bike. I went as far as Sisophon the first day, and stayed a few days. Pretty hard to find any decent food there, but the people are pretty friendly. After Sisophon I went to Siem Reap some more crappy bumpy dirt roads. How can it be so dusty when it's raining half the time. About halfway, just before reaching what I call Antennatown-theres antennae everywhere you look- were a couple of bridges with some big holes in them, luckily for me I wasn't barelling along at 80 or 90 km/hr like usual. At Siem Reap I got the 3 day pass and got completely templed out. Somebody died across the street from where I was staying and I couldn't handle the noise, had to move. from Siem Reap I headed back to Sisophon (I wanted to go to Battambang). I wiped out at a place where they were "fixing" the road, boy, they don't even make an attempt at giving people a way around the mess they are making. While I was picking myself up some guy went off the side of the road with a couple of squeeling pigs on the back of his Dailim. I spent a couple more days in Sisophon and then was off to Battambang. Wow, pretty decent (even paved) highway. I stayed in Pursat for a few days, not to bad guesthouses for a small town. finally I headed back to the trafic madness of Phnom Penh, the highway was nice all the way.
    Nice trip but I didn't get a chance to see half of what I wanted, I guess I'll have to go back again next year, and maybe take a little more time. If anybody want to ask (or tell) me anything, feel free to send me an email.
     
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  3. LaudJohn

    LaudJohn Ol'Timer

    sirmotorbike,

    good summary,

    I made the trip from kratie to steung treng in mid may. I hope to post about that trip soon, it was interesting. that highway makes a motocross track look tame.It had rained quite a bit by then and there were some severe puddles. No way would I attempt it much later, when did you go? Not long after that trip my clutch cable broke from all the use!

    I hope to cross into Lao from cambo around christmas time and go to phonosovan.

    cheers,
    LaudJohn
     
  4. sirmotorbike

    sirmotorbike Member

    It was early May when I attempted the Kratie to Stung Treng trip. It was already plenty muddy, and I had a pretty large load of luggage with me on the back, made it harder to keep from falling over and a real pain getting back up.
     

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