Tuesday 10 April, 2018
Day 13 / Kampong Kdei to Kampong Thom
[Missed Day 12? Read the previous post here]
Cheye wakes up with stomach pain and doesn’t feel great. I’m also not 100% with some cold and flu symptoms, which I gather is from the all the air con throughout the trip. Despite the crudiness, we pack up our things and drag ourselves out the door. We make a few stops along the way and say hi to some of the local kids.
The plan for the day was to cycle 85km to Kampong Thom but 30kms down the road Cheye stops and says he can’t cycle any further. I’m not sure what to do so we pull over in the shade and he starts vomiting up last night’s dinner on the side of the road. Trying to weigh up our options, I figure we could either try to hitch a road with a bus or truck, or cycle to the next town of Stoung which is about 5km away, and figure out our options there. Although Cheye is reluctant to cycle any further he tells me he’ll push on.
We arrive in Stoung, which is a small detour off the main highway. There’s still 50km before we arrive in Kampong Thom but there’s no way Cheye is going to last another 50km on the bike. Our options are either stay in Stoung and cycle the remaining 50km the following day, or jump on a bus to Kampong Thom and end the cycling there. We decide on the bus as there’s no guarantee he’ll feel any better tomorrow.
It’s quite an experience cramming ourselves into a minibus, with about 20 other people squeezed in like sardines behind us. I end up sitting on Cheye’s lap in the front seat, with another guy squished between us and the driver.
The guys tie our bikes with all the other luggage hanging out the boot, including a motorbike amongst other things.
During our short cycle we noticed lots of weddings being held by the roadside – lots of spaces decked out with chairs, decorations, colourful archways, music and usually a giant photo of the bride and groom. We find out later that it’s wedding season. I’m not sure if it’s just the time of year or if it’s something people do before Khmer New Year which runs between April 13-16.
We get off just before the bridge of Kampong Thom where we see people buying chicken embryos (to eat) from a street cart. We cycle across the bridge into the main part of town to check in at our guesthouse. The guy goes off to prepare our room so we have a chat to the kids at the front counter until he returns with our key.
Once checked in, we crank up the air con and Cheye passes out on the bed while I head to the markets to look for some lunch.
I wander around for a bit, browsing the different stalls selling everything from clothes, shoes and watches before hitting the produce section. I find a stall selling noodles and ask the lady if she has anything vegetarian.
She shows me a few things that look like they contain meat but I eventually settle for a noodle dish with herbs and sauce which is quite delicious. On the way back to the hotel I grab a shaved ice dessert and some pineapple for later.
I message Chhim, who we are meant to stay with at Phum Asia, and tell him we can’t stay the night because Cheye is sick with food poisoning. He doesn’t respond so cycle down to Phum Asia that afternoon around 3pm (our original check in time) to meet him or tell someone in person in case he hasn’t received the message. Upon arriving, I not only meet Chhim but also some of the students. He tells me we can check in from around 1pm tomorrow if we like. A few of the students are hanging around so I have a brief chat with them before heading off.
Back at the hotel room, the air con doesn’t feel cool and keeps switching itself off every 10 minutes. We have three people try to help before they fix it. A bit later I decide to head out for dinner. I ask Cheye if he’s feeling well enough to eat something. We decide to get some Western food as we’ve been eating the Asian food throughout the entire trip and Cheye doesn’t think he can stomach anything that resembles rice and cabbage tonight.
We discover a restaurant just across the road call Love Café & Pizza (formerly known as Run Amok Café). The power goes out as we leave the hotel. It then comes back on as we walk down the street. As mentioned in a previous post, it’s quite a common occurrence.
The café is run by a lovely lady named Vicki from Ohio USA who bought the place in June 2015. We order some veggie burgers, fries and a soda and chat to her about her projects and how she trains local students to work at the café.
The power goes out twice more while we wait for our food. We take the food back to the hotel and eat while watching Star Wars on TV. Cheye manages to keep the food down. The power goes out at least another three times while we eat in the darkness.