Monday 9 April, 2018
Day 12 / Siem Reap to Kampong Kdei
[Missed Day 11? Read the previous post here]
We decide to make an early start to beat the heat. The streets are the quietest I have seen and there are barely any vehicles to be seen or heard.
We depart just after 6am head down Highway 6 towards Kampong Kdei. As we cycle out towards the sunrise the traffic starts to pick up, with as many people heading out of town as are coming into Siem Reap to start their days trading in the big city.
As the highway get less busy, it eventually form two lanes with less shops and more houses.
At one point we spot a string of stalls set up on the roadside. It looks like the stall owners are carving cylinders out of bamboo. I’m not sure what the exact purpose of these cylinders are, but the stalls run for a few hundred metres and every person seems to be making the exact same thing.
We cycle 40km before taking a break as it felt pretty cruisy. We stop on the side of the road to snack on some bananas.
There is a small family shop nearby so we decide to buy some lollipops and candy for the kids.
We have a chat to the family before leaving. We always like supporting local family businesses and have a play with the kids during our travels.
A dog starts barking at us and continues barking continuously for the next five minutes until we finally jump on our bike to head off, which we find hilarious.
We continue on and get the worst headwind for the remaining 20km. Cheye leads the first 10km then I take over the remaining 10km. I’m pretty steady for the first 5km until Cheye says “You can use this as your training for today”. So I go into time trial mode for the last 5km, timing each km to beat the previous one. We arrive in Kampong Kdei nice and early at 9:30am and settle for the first guest house we come across so we can unload our gear.
We wander the local markets to look for some lunch. The town looks much smaller than some of the others we have encountered, especially having just come from Siem Reap. There is a big market but most of the shop are selling either produce or watches.
We can’t seem to find any food places apart from a giant, open restaurant that looks like a place buses stop for people passing through between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. We decide to stop in and order some vegetable fried rice (USD $2.50 each).
We wander around the markets a bit more but can’t seem to find any convenience stores to get supplies for later. We come across a few stalls selling decorations for Khmer New Year, including giant stars that light up at night.
We come across a huge section selling fruit so I decide buy some mango from one of the stands. The lady cuts it up but struggles to find some eating sticks, going to the effort of running from one stall to another. We giggle at her attempts and in the end we tell her not to worry.
Two mangoes (1kg) were only USD $1! And they are some of the best tasting mangoes I’ve had for a long time. We wander back towards the guest house and it’s about 200m before Cheye realises he has left our water bottle at the fruit stand, so I race back to see if it’s still there. Luckily the lady is holding it for us and she is having a laugh as she returns it to us.
There’s not much else going on in town so I decide to go for a quick cycle back down the road as I’ve heard there is an interesting old bridge nearby. There are two roads leading into town – the new highway and an old road. Since we cycled into town via the highway we completely missed there bridge, where a lot of buses tend to stop to give passengers and rest and stretch their legs.
We head out a bit later to grab dinner. There don’t seem to be many places around so we settle for a small family place nearby and order rice and stir-fried veggies (USD $2.50) which ends up giving one of us food poisoning the following day (you’ll have to read the next post!).
We eat while watching what looks like Bollywood movies on the TV at the back of the restaurant. I can’t be entirely sure as only half the screen is working.
We head off and Cheye picks up some snacks from the shop next door while I stop by a dessert stand so I can finally get some shaved ice. I’m trying to point at what I want but just end up confusing the stall lady. A local girl sitting nearby knows a bit of English so she jumps in and helps me order.
We’re still unsure where we will donate the bikes – there is one plan to do a massive day of cycling and head to Kampong Cham, but it’s 115km of cycling which is more than we want to do. I do a quick search on AirBnB and find an organisation called Community Work for Asia / Phum Asia that offers free education to local students around Kampong Thom. We like the sound of them and decide to organise a two night homestay to experience local Cambodian life and give back to the community.
Distance cycled: 61.5km (main highways, flat)
Time spent cycling: 3 hrs
Accommodation: Heng Heng Guest House (USD $15)
Lunch: Local Restaurant
Dinner: Local Restaurant