I was back in Cambodia for a week recently and had a few ideas for a ride this time out. I was considering koh kong and cardamoms but was unable to find a riding partner or a good looking 250 for rent so went with Plan B Stung Treng - Tbeng Meanchey. I checked out a few shops after arriving in PP and came up empty. The next morning I got a moto to the Bike Shop on St. 302 where Bernard had 1 250 that had just been returned. It seemed ok and he checked it over while I went back to my hotel to grab my stuff and check out. Day 1: Phnom Penh – Kratie (325km, 6 hours) Got on the road around noon and took highway 5 30km to the ferry crossing to link up with highway 6. Being a Saturday it was crowded but probably still a better option than the carnage over the Japanese bridge on highway 6. Stopped for fuel and a bite in Kampong Cham and continued on to kratie on highway 7. The road is perfect and traffic is light after Kampong Cham. Took my time and enjoyed the scenery. I ended up doing the last 20km into Kratie in the dark and had near misses with an oxcart and a daelim with no lights. Day 2: Kratie – Stung Treng via Sre Khasang The gecko map and my gps showed a river road to Stung Treng so I drove about 35km to Sambor and asked a few of the locals about it. Got a few different opinions, one said there was no road, another said there was a road but it wasn’t passable because one of the streams off the Mekong was still too high. I snapped a couple of pics of the 100 column temple and decided to head back to highway 7. Back on the highway I did a few more km out of kratie and then hit the new highway to Stung Treng which has to be one of the best roads in Cambodia now. Just inside Stung Treng province I decided to try out a trail heading west back to the Mekong. A nice 15km or so on hard dirt through thick forest and I was at the Mekong in a village called sre khasang. Still curious about the river road, I asked an old guy if it went south and rattled off the names of a few of the villages on the gecko map. He didn’t seem to think there was a road to those villages but did say the road went north all the way to Stung Treng. It was a nice ride to Stung Treng from there with no traffic, lots of trees and views of the Mekong. There are a couple of bridges out along the way but it was easy to follow the detours the locals had cut in down the riverbeds. Got to this bridge but didn’t see a detour. What to do? Waited a couple of minutes and a few locals on daelims just went straight over the far left section of the bridge. I did the same and it held up the baja just fine. The road eventually turns into the stung treng river road. Day 3: Stung Treng – Tbeng Meanchey I had a long wait at the pier for the boat over to Thala. A few Khmers were busy selling their pigs. There’s a small temple ruin on the other side of the Mekong. Probably worth a quick stop but I wasn’t all that impressed. From here the road to Chaeb (about halfway) is awesome. Forest, river crossings, big trees, rickety bridges and a minimal amount of sand. I lost about an hour just before Chaeb because of a broken down truck blocking the entire road. Soon I was joined by several locals who decided to whack out a path into the forest rather than wait for the truck to get going. They went to work with their machetes and soon we were on our way. A few kms after Chaeb is the village of MuPrey. I don’t know if I took a wrong turn here or what but I crossed a wooden bridge and ended up in a village where the road just stopped. I was off the trail to Pou on the gps by a little but didn’t see any other road heading west. Finally one of the villagers led me through the backyard of one of the houses to an overgrown single track that he said went to Pou. A few minutes on this and I hit a big clearing with a 4 way intersection, headed west and checked the gps. I was back on the track to Pou. I tried to pick up the pace here to get to Tbeng Meanchey before dark but after a ton of river crossings, sand, 2 plank bridges and multiple paths I was exhausted. I hit a big river crossing about 10km before Pou. It looked too deep to ride through but the only other path was a scary looking uneven log bridge 5 meters above the river. Ended up walking the bike over the bridge and took a rest. It was dark now but I was able to make pretty good time from there until about 2km from Pou. Saw a nice flat part of the trail and headed over it only to have my front wheel sink down all the way into a mudhole. I got off and tried pushing and pulling from all sorts of angles but could not get the front wheel out. At this point I figured I was going to spend a night in the forest. An hour or 2 passed and I was just about ready to break out my hammock when a daelim with 2 khmers passed by. I waved them over and it took all 3 of us to get my front wheel out the muck. Loaded up the bike and was on my way to Pou. It was after 8 now but I decided to just do the 6 km to the sen river and Tbeng Meanchey in the dark rather than hang my hammock somewhere in Pou. This was the nastiest 6km of the trip. There’s a section where the forest completely blots out the sky that looks like something out of the Blair Witch Project at night. Reached the river after what seemed like hours but there was no one around. The river was way too deep to cross. A minute later a couple of Khmers stepped out of the shadows and asked me if I needed to cross. They went and retrieved their boat from the other side and I finally made it to Tbeng Meanchey and the Prom Tep guesthouse sometime after 9pm. Day 4 – 5: Tbeng Meachey – Kampong Thom – Phnom Penh. My ass was in bad shape from the previous day’s 12 hour run but I went ahead and did the bumpy dirt road 140 km to Kampong Thom the next day, yelping in pain everytime I hit a big bump. The Arunes Hotel in Kampong Thom has huge rooms with bathtub, tv, and fridge for $7. Back to Phnom Penh the next day. Start early on the Stung Treng – Tbeng Meanchey trip, those trails are no fun in the dark.