I did another story for the bayon pearnik october issue and pulled out parts I thought would be pertinent to the readers here. Travelers Info The guide books are out. Adventure Cambodia, Matt Jacobson’s account of out of the way places with the motorcyclist and bicyclist in mind has been out for a year now and though road conditions are getting better (and in some cases worse) it still offers a lot of great out of the way adventures. The new Lonely Planet, by Nick Ray is finally out just in time for the next season as well. It shouldn’t be long until the Rough Guide makes an appearance as well. As the travel landscape of Cambodia’ rapidly changes its nice that they have come out on staggered years. Keeping up with the changes will keep these authors employed for years to come. I wish them all luck in keeping the originals away from the photocopiers who employ the street kids to hawk books on the riverfront. The Gecko Map has finally come out with a revision. This is the definitive travel map for Cambodia. They too are having trouble keeping up with the rapid changes. Included in this revision is the road along the Thai border between Pailin and Poipet and Christian from the Rusty Keyhole Kampot reports good fun in the mud on that route, and that there is a new concrete vehicle bridge adjacent to the old suspension bridge just out of Pailin. The route out of Snoul on the way to Sen Monorom, and many others are also included. For the real adventurer, you will be happy to know they still missed a few. Road conditions rapidly change and so far if it’s a route in from Thailand, chances are the road won’t be good. Rainy season once again has stalled progress between Koh Kong and Route 4, as well as Route 7 between Stung Treng and Kracheh, and as of this writing one of the best motorcycle dirt tracks in the country still remains the heaviest overland travel route from Thailand (Poipet) to Siem Reap! Techno Geeks will be happy to know that Garmin has also updated their world map software for their GPS units and it is backward compliant, so previous edition waypoints haven’t become obsolete! Money. Carry only what you can afford to lose. One guy came through my joint and complained how Cambodia was so expensive. “How do you figure?” I asked. Well this idiot was factoring in that he was spending his riel at less than 75 cents on the dollar. Victim of the 2500 to 3000 riel for one dollar exchange rate offered by tour operators when coming overland from Thailand. Currently the dollar is worth between 4000 and 4200 riel and dollars are spent here so don’t change your money. Though Canadia Bank actually beat them to the punch, they along with ANZ Bank have ATMs in Cambodia now. Some locals have opened accounts at ANZ and are pretty satisfied. Average daily wages in Cambodia are from 1-2 dollars a day, don’t give beggars a buck as it sends the wrong message to the working class, and especially be weary of the short haired American guy with tattoos asking for 2-4 dollars. His mom sends him cash Western Union and he has been seen waving around as many as 3 C notes at a time. Upon arrival to the Kingdom tourist as well as locals can get all the up to date info from The Bayon Pearnik as well as The Canby and Cambodia Pocket Guides available at a number of bars, restaurants and hotels in all the larger tourist spots through out the country. Links to these and others can be found at www.bayonpearnik.com Airplanes, Boats, Trains, Busses, Taxis, Motos, Cyclos….Ox Carts No doubt about it, the best way to Phnom Penh from Thailand is by Air. Remember leaving Bangkok there is a 500 Baht airport departure tax, and out of Phnom Penh the tax is 25 dollars. Budget accordingly. Route 66, Siem Reap-Prasat Bakan is still the best ox cart tour in the country. Mud or sand, and slow going even on a 250cc. My last trip by the entrance of the route at Beng Melea showed some road progress in that direction but it’s anyone’s guess as to how far in. I wasn’t too pleased to see a friend’s photographs of his last trip there and all the Danger Land Mine signs about. I have recanted many of travel stories with plenty of motorcyclist who have made the trip and there were no land mine signs present when we all went. I imagine they want to scare the looters from taking the last two percent of artifacts left that haven’t been shipped off to Thailand, but more importantly there were mines found and lucky us who have all been there sans signs. I still haven’t heard of any fees for this temple but it shouldn’t be too long in the distant future. Beng Melea and Ko Ker now command at 10 dollar entrance fee. Remember when paying entrance fees to any of the wonders around the country to make sure you get a ticket/receipt; otherwise negotiate half fare to keep the vendor from pocketing the whole amount.