Touristy 1st Ride to Cambodia 2011

Discussion in 'Cambodia Road Trip Reports' started by rob7711, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    This 11 day ride had been on the cards for a good part of 2011 for our group and took place from 26/11/2011 to 06/12/2011. The group consisted of 2 gtr1400, 1 gs1200 and a versys (with 2 of the bikes riding 2 up) and the journey would start from Kuala Lumpur (Msia) to Trat (LOS) crossing over to Koh Kong (Cambo) and then to Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Poipet crossing back into Aranyaprhatet (LOS) and then back to Kuala Lumpur.

    The days running up towards our departure date was filled with a constant concern of the massive flooding that had inundated a good part of LOS and especially as our route included a traversing of south of bangkok city. Thankfully on departure date the latest updates were that our intended route was passable and the flood situation was rapidly improving. However we departed on this ride armed with alternative ride routes with the contingency plan to ride Isaan as an alternative. So in reality this could have ended up as a ride report to Isaan instead. Anyhow, the gods were smiling upon us on this ride ...

    Day 1
    We rendevouz at Jejantas Sg Buloh just outside of KL city (its an RnR along our tolled north south highway) at midnite on the 25/11/2011 and set off on our ride around 00:30. The weather was excellent and riding at this time of the day was more cooling and with less traffic on the road. We made Changlun around 05:00 and had our breakfast at our regular shop along the highway. This place has does our thai insurance, immigration cards and forex ... sort of a do-it-all stop thats pretty convenient.

    Whilst having our breakfast we noted quite a few fully laden tour buses already headed towards the border crossing at Bukit Kayu Hitam and we knew of several other buses which we passed on our ride up too. So a quick change of plan and we decided to make our border crossing at Padang Besar instead which turned out to be an excellent detour. The detour took us on a new highway from Changlun to Padang Besar through misty fields of sugarcane plantations which was quite a pretty sight in the early hours of the morning. The border crossing at Padang Besar was a breeze and painless as there was hardly any traffic there.

    This outward leg of the ride has always been kind of boring (having done this several times over the years) though we did make a stop just outside of Chumphon for a little treat of coconut jelly by the roadside. Our destination for the day was Chumphon and we reached our destination around 15:30 and everybody was exhausted after the long ride.

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    This was our night guard tasked with keeping an eye on our machines for the night ... caught sleeping on the job though!

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  3. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Day 2
    Over dinner the previous night we made some changes to our ride itinery. Our original ride did not include riding to Sihanoukville. This destination was taken off our ride itinery due to "horror" stories about the cambo boys in blue shaking down foreign bikes etc previously posted here in this forum. However one of our riders cajoled the group into taking in Sihanoukville as afterall we had already travelled the distance, etc. Us being an amiable and easy going group we agreed to 1 night there. As such we had to abandon a planned overnight at Amphawa to make up for this extra night in Sihanoukville and we decided to ride Chumphon to Trat today. We were also thinking that today being a Sunday we might be able to do the bkk bypass without too much traffic.

    We rode off in perfect weather around 07:30 after breakfast of noodles at a nearby stall close to the hotel. We did 3 digit speeds much of the way till we hit R35. From then onwards it was basically riding the frontage roads following our carefully gpsed waypoints making quite a succesful bypass of bkk. Thankfully all the roads were passable and we did not even see any evidence of the flooding that had been going on (or we were very unobservant?). Anyways we were already riding in the dark across country roads that were actually very good and made a dinner stop in town for some delicious bbq/steamboat dinner before checking in at the Golden Cliff Resort for the night. It was another long day.

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  4. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Day 3
    This morning we rode the 18km to the border filled with trepidation over the border crossing into

    Cambodia, this being our first crossing. Quite a bit of time was taken at the thai side to get the

    custom forms filled and immigration too. However it was relatively straightforward but time

    consuming. However after all the paperwork was done we found that we had to surrender back all of

    the custom papers before being allowed to cross the border. This would mean that we no longer had

    in our hands any documentation of having "exported" the bikes. Concern.

    Then it was a short traverse across gravelly "no mans land" to the cambo checkpoint. We were told

    to park our bikes by the roadside before the barrier and proceeded to have our paperwork checked by

    the customs? guy at the booth on the right side. From here onwards we engaged the services of a

    runner to take us through the customs and immigration process while we waited, got body temperature

    checked, got photographed and fingerprinted (all indexes mind you) etc. After another hour or so

    we could finally proceed into Cambodia. What a relief when it was all finally over. We then rode

    a short distance down and made a stop at the totally out of place grand casino building on the

    right. Yes, we did remember to switch to riding on the "wrong" side of the road from here onwards

    but little did we know there was more surprises to come ...

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    Whilst taking a short break at the casino premises we also took to disabling our headlights. We

    just merely pulled our high beam fuse and switched the headlight to high and viola ... no

    headlights! However this did not work for the gs1200 coz it was too high tech (canbus etc) and it

    needed a low tech solution ... a plain towel clothes-pegged to the headlight grille protector did

    the trick.

    Its a short ride into Koh Kong and soon we were beyond the town and heading along our gps assisted

    course. For the immediate next 2 hours we were all taken by surprise as to all manner of dangers

    that lurks on them roads. The many insane truck drivers out to run you over, the maniac pickups

    and cars that refuses to see you, the fixated motorcyclist that never looks over their shoulders

    when they should decide to make u-turns right down to the cudn't be bothered pedestrians, cows,

    piggies, doggies and even the chickens. This was not counting dodging the numerous potholes that

    lay in wait. They were ALL out to get us! We were all traumatized after those 2 hours intro to

    Cambodia road hazards. We decided we needed a break and since it was lunch time, we found a cool

    little shop and made a much needed stop to gather our nerves.

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    We finally arrived at our destination for the night, the Fortuna Casino Hotel (but to our dismay,

    it was just next to the notorious lion roundabout). After we arrived at our destination was when

    we discovered that the versys had lost its registration plate ... it broke off due to the bad

    roads. More drama to come ...

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    Dawn breaking over Sihanoukville ...

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  5. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

    I've never felt the need to go to Cambodia, but this report & photos so far are impressive!
     
  6. BJ

    BJ Ol'Timer

    Great report Rob
    Not many reports about crossing into Cambodia.
    Have been there a few times and hired bikes, but never thought about riding over the border.
    Look forward to the rest of your report.
     
  7. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Thanks guys for your kind words ...

    Day 4
    Last night after dinner various ideas were thrown as to how we could fix the versys registration

    plate. As is the case in LOS, registration plates in Cambo were the pressed metal type and is not

    obtainable just off the street (it seems they are issued at registration by the authorities?).

    Anyhow it will not do for our malaysian plates. So this morning we made use of the hotel reception

    computer and printer (had to sweet talk the pretty lass at reception) to generate printed b/w

    plates. Another guy went scouring for tape and came back with some clear film that kids used to

    wrapped text books, etc. So all was well and when we were loading up the bikes we discovered that

    the versys had also suffered a puncture (slow leak occurring from a nail puncture). So we sent the

    bike out for a supposedly quick puncture repair not having fixed the registration plate problem yet

    (we could only fixed the paper print onto the side panniers as the whole plate had broken off) and

    since the puncture was at the rear we thought that it was pointless to mount the panniers just yet.

    After over an hour for what would have normally only taken 15 to 20 minutes our versys finally

    returned. He was apparently pulled over by the cambo boys in blue (the dreaded shakedown) and got

    @#$% for the missing registration plate. USD40 lighter he returned to us and becoz of the

    shakedown we made a determined detour to not pass the lion roundabout on our ride out of town.

    We made for Kampot riding through some nice scenery and where we had a rest and some nice noodles

    at a corner coffee shop in town. Ordering of food was made simple when the little old lady brought

    out some menu and in english too ... fantastic!

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    We then made our way to Phnom Penh dodging all manner of hazards previously describe. I was the

    lead bike (having also been conditioned to driving on the "wrong" side of the road elsewhere) and

    soon found refuge staying behind a merc 500 almost all the way going into Phnom Penh mimicing every

    move it made. We located our hotel for the next 2 nights at New York Hotel which was centrally

    located but kinda run down for wear n tear but it will do.

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    Late evening whilst trying to ..ahem! chat up the pretty lass at the cafe in the hotel lobby, we

    met the manager/operator of the cafe and discovered that she was originally from Penang (Msia) and

    had since relocated here over 29 years ago. She was still fluent with her hokkien dialect and

    found her an interesting character. Mdm Maly was happy to meet fellow countrymen and was surprised

    when we told her we came on our bikes from Kuala Lumpur. She not only recommended us a good

    restaurant for our dinner and intro to cambodian food but she even came along and ordered on our

    behalf. It was a fortunate meet up as the food was very very tasty and the price was fair to our

    minds. We thoroughly enjoyed that night's dinner. She even fixed up transport and driver to take

    us to some sights the next day. Wonderful lady Mdm Maly.

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  8. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Thank you 2wheels. I just didn't have the time to do any pp to the pics but I would think this pic if processed would really jump out. Alas if only I had more time. lol
     
  9. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Day 5
    Today we would do the sights around Phnom Penh thanks to Mdm Maly's kind assistance. We would not

    be riding our bikes today and instead be real tourists. Our first stop was the Grand Palace ..

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    Independance Square through the window of the van ...

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    Next was the sombre Toul Sleng Genocide Museum ...

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    Other sights ...

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    We also visited the russian market and some of the night markets that abound just taking in the

    sights, the atmosphere and the smells ... pretty interesting stuff. For our final night in Phnom

    Penh we decided to attempt some "Fine Dinning" at Khmer Surin which was a pretty quaint

    establishment with very nice atmosphere ...

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  10. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    A good question 2wheels. Perhaps my observations of the bikes will provide some feedback that you seek.

    I guess I should start with the gtr1400s as I rode the blue one 1-up whilst the other gtr was 2-up. The gtr1400 is a sports tourer and was excellent for Malaysia and Thailand roads, comfy and with lots of "go" especially for the "transport" leg of the ride (viz KL to BKK). 1,000+km days are a breeze. However its weight (688lbs dry) was a bit of disadvantage on poor cambodian roads and constant swerving manouvers to dodge the numerous potholes (if succesful) was a bit of a chore. Suspension did bottomed out on a few occassions when we hit some nasty potholed stretches. However the ABS and traction control was called upon on 2 occassions whilst on cambodian roads and boy was I glad I had them.

    The versys was 2-up (it was practically brand new with 200km on the odo when we left KL) and to my mind performed very well. It could keep up with the rest of the pack at highway speeds though throttle was almost wringed out. It also handled cambodian roads pretty well despite being 2-up and I did not hear of the rider mentioning having bottomed out though he did hit a few (pillion almost ending up sitting on the top box ... lol).

    The GS1200A which was 1-up was also well suited for this ride. Perhaps was the best for cambodian roads when compared to the rest of the bikes. It also had the best mileage per liter of gas overall whenever we were at the pumps. Its extra large tank capacity wasn't really called upon as we could always find reasonable sized petrol stations the entire trip to fill up on ron95 (which was the minimum requirement of the gtrs).

    Hope my take of the bikes helps.
     
  11. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Day 6
    This morning we ride to Siem Reap but the night before we discovered that the versys pannier frame had a crack on one the arms (it was a poorly fabricated frame) and due to the poor road conditions and vibrations. Anyhow the bike was rideable though we kept an eye on the wobbling panniers and praying that it would not eventually come off. We found a welding shop outside of Phnom Penh along our route which by then had opened and we made some quick welding repairs."No charge" said the kind operator of the shop and we thanked him for his kindness and were off again.

    Besides the road hazards previously described we also had to dodge padi(?) drying on the roads including dodging the numerous potholes and gravelly stretches. We made a lunch stop at a place called Pra Preay(?) which was sort of an RnR by a body of water just off the main road ...

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    The roads were so potholed that sometimes there was just no way to avoid them. I hit a particularly bad one which resulted in my rear rim suffering a dent and my brake disc slightly warped. %#@&^*!!! We reached Siem Reap round about 16:00 and we checked into Royal Empire Hotel where I cooled off at the pool while pondering my damage. Thankfully we all made it safely into Siem Reap.

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    After many meals of amok and other local food, we decided that we needed a change for dinner and had pizza instead at a fast food outlet ...

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  12. bartomeer

    bartomeer Ol'Timer

    Nice report!!
     
  13. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Day 7 & 8
    We made arrangements for a van, driver and tour guide the previous day and they were ready this morning for our day's excursion to the angkor sites. We made a short detour to drop off the dented rim to be fixed (hopefully) at a repair shop suggested by our driver and then went on our tour ...

    Maybe I should loose some weight ... my poor damaged rim. Cost of repair USD20.

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    Just needed to get a picture with this lovely lady ...

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    We also made a tour to the Tonle Sap lake ...

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    The Angkor ruins were really fascinating and was the highlight of our trip while the Tonle Sap was really a tourist trap but still while you are there its the touristy thing to do I guess though I still think the Inle Lake in northern myanmar has more character and fascinating.
     
  14. David Learmonth

    David Learmonth Ol'Timer

    Great report & photos! But I think for the time being I'll stay this side of the border! Pity about the police 'shakedown' - not really a way to encourage tourism I don't think.
     
  15. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Thanks again guys for your kind encouragement.

    Day 9 & 10
    The dented rim was repaired and back on the bike but there was little we could do with the warped

    brake disc. Basically I reckon that the rear brakes would not work when really called upon and

    made a mental note to only use the front brakes for the rest of our ride.

    So today was the beginning of our return leg and our ride from Siem Reap takes us to Poi Pet where

    we spent about 45minutes to do the border crossing back into LOS. Pretty time consuming but

    uneventful and we were through to the Thai side. We now had a lengthy wait for our Thai papers

    mainly with the customs and that in itself took over an hour. We were then on our way heading

    towards our planned route through BKK.

    However all manner of planning was put paid by the still ongoing floods and after several detours

    on R1 we found ourselves heading deeper into BKK (which we had hope to avoid in the first place).

    Anyhow during the many detours we managed to loose one of the gtr in BKK but knowing that every

    bike had a gps onboard we forged on to find our way out of BKK looking for R35. We finally found

    ourselves on R35 and pulled up at a petrol station at Samut Sakhon to try and learn the location of

    the lost rider. After several mobile calls we discovered that he was still somewhere within the

    city and so we decided to rz at the designated hotel at Chaam. We made Chaam about 20:00 and our

    lost rider arrived 30 minutes later. We had a quiet dinner nearby and called it a day as everyone

    was really tired out.

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    The next day was another day of high speed riding with Hat Yai being our next stop for the night.

    As usual the highway ride was pretty boring though we did catch a bit of rain along the way. Quite

    uneventful really. We arrived at our designated hotel, the New Season Hotel, and later We settled

    for a seafood dinner which wasn't really memorable ... sort of an anti climax though palatable.

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  16. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Day 11
    The ride from Hat Yai back to Kuala Lumpur was pretty straight forward as we had done this

    countless times. We made a lunch stop at Matang in the Malaysian state of Perak for some delicious

    seafood porridge and after lunch I said my goodbyes to the rest of the group as I made a detour to

    Taiping to visit me old folks.

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    So that concluded our little touristy 1st ride into Cambodia. Everyone enjoyed the trip

    tremendously. The road experiences encountered in Cambodia caught us by surprise really.

    Eventhough we had read about it but nothing really prepares you for it except experiencing (and

    surviving it) first hand I guess.

    In retrospect, Angkor ruins was really worth a visit but as for the rest of the country once would

    suffice.

    Thanks for reading my yarn. Cheers!
     
  17. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank GT-Rider for the rich resources and information that has helped us plan and prepare for this ride. Also not forgetting the members that had so generously shared their input, suggestions and information in other post pertaining to BKK bypass and last but not least the road trip reports that were an excellent source of information and inspiration for us to do this ride. Many thanks!
     
  18. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Thanks again for your kind words 2wheels. "Touristy" I thought was an apt description of our ride because in reality we were just another bunch of tourists visiting Cambodia with the only difference in our mode of transport. I am pleased that you enjoyed the report though I am not much of a scribe.

    I will endeavor to post our Malaysian rides here at GT-Rider in the future though most of our rides here are non overnighters and pretty short affairs.

    Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays!!! Cheers!
     
  19. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Astute observation 2wheels. Couldn't agree more. Cheers!
     
  20. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    My apologies for messing up the pix links. These have now been rectified vide edits. Thanks.
     
  21. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    Fantastic RR! I don't know how I missed it but am happy to have just stumbled across it. Some friends and I are headed down to Malaysia at the end of March to ride the Cameron Highlands and we're very much looking forward to visiting your country!

    Happy Trails!

    Tony
     
  22. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Many thanks TonyBKK for your kind comments. I have read about your intended visit to Malaysia and was pleased that many others have responded quite comprehensively about your routes, etc. I couldnt have contributed anything more save for "have a funtastic ride and don't forget your rain gear!" Cheers!
     
  23. cdrw

    cdrw Ol'Timer

    What an absolutely STELLAR report and kudos for the excellent photos!!
    I don't believe you missed any of the major sites...and the Angkor Wat area is surely one you'll long remember.
    Cambodia can be inspiring (police excluded and the government); I've often explored in the country for last 10-years,
    and there's always new people and places to encounter. I was in PPenh last month (for an engine rebuild), and was quite
    surprised by the city's growth: 40+ story building and more sane (relative) driving habits, compared to not too many years earlier
    the highest building was a mere 6-stories and all the side roads, between the major thoroughfares were mostly dirt.

    I'm happy to read there were no mishaps and all returned home safely.

    Thanks again for your wonderful pictorial report. I brought back many memories.
     
  24. rob7711

    rob7711 Ol'Timer

    Thank you cdrw for your generous and kind remarks. The quality of the RRs here on GT-Rider are exceptional and mine pales in comparison. However I take your encouraging feedback to strive to do better. Many thanks again for reading.
     

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