Nov 7, 2005

We did a short weekend trip to Cambodia a while ago to check the condition of the border road from Pailin to Poipet. You can find the road on the newer version of the Gecko Map but the map is not very accurate.

We crossed the border from Thailand to Cambodia at the “lower” Pailin border (Pong Nam Ron on the Thai side and Prum on the Cambodian side) This border is quite pleasant almost no traffic and seldom any visa buses. To get to this border you turn right in Pong Nam Ron from road 317 to road 3193 and then you take the second big road to right and the border. If You continue the same road you will end up at the “upper” Pailin border at Baen Laem where most of the visa buses go.

The border crossing here is quite easy. The immigration boss speaks good English and is very helpful when he “melts” up. The customs is not very used to bikes but the telephone for advice to their former boss who is now in charge for Had Lek (Klong Yai) and he is a nice guy. We cleared 3 cambodian bikes in one hour with some papers missing so that was not bad…

Our bikes was two 400 DR Suzukis and one Aprillia Pegaso 650.

From the border it is almost 20 kilometer to Pailin and the road is bad. For some strange reason I almost every time have to drive it in dark even if everybody agree in the morning that we do not drive in dark…

Anyhow when you approach Pailin you will see by far a well illuminated hotel “Las Vegas style” (if the electricity in Pailin is on line) and this is the best hotel in Pailin with a good Restaurant and a karaoke which has been closed the last 3 years. There is a few other hotels and guesthouses in Pailin, some massage places and a typical Cambodian “chicken farm” outside town for those interested.

Next morning we left early so we do not have to drive in the dark…The route that someone recomended took us up to Baen Laem but not the same way I”ve done before. There is another road going just from the border casino along the border to Baen Laem. Anyhow the road recommended was as bad as I remembered the old road, plenty of potholes and some parts looked like they could be very “interesting” if raining.

After Baen Laem the road does not get better and it is difficult to know the route. The map does not help you so you have to ask your way in all crossings and if you want to be sure you go always left and end up at a Thai border which you can not cross. The area is still heavily mined even if it seems like plenty of areas are de-mined since my last trip here 2 years ago. According to the signs the de-mining was paid by US and Haloo Trust.

Another more unpleasant change was that all the rope bridges were gone. You could still see the remains at some places next to the new steel constructions but you miss the heartbreaking experience of trying the load factor of the bridge with a heavy bike while the locals unload everything from their Honda Dreams when crossing… Last time I went with a Yamaha Super Tennere….

The road goes through the Roneam Doun Sam Wildlife Sanctuary but we never saw anything wild or spectacular.

Eventually we did arrive before dark to the Siem Reap –Poipet road which seemed to be in very good condition (or was it just compared to…)

Cambodian custom no problem but on the Thai side in Aran they are very very strict now. You have to make all the paper works and you need insurance at the border. The days are over when you could drop in without any paper work… especially in the late evenings.

This was just a quick trip, no problems but actually not so many memories either. The road Pailin-Poipet is easily passable but not so very funny. HIKO