Way Off the Tourist Track

Another excellent day of riding as we left Kampong Cham en-route to Phnom Penh.

Within minutes of leaving the hotel, we were riding narrow dirt tracks through small villages. And when I say ‘through’ villages, I mean we were basically riding through the front yards of the village houses. The narrow track is the route used by the villagers, and it put us almost in arms reach of the houses that we passed. What a fantastic way to start the day’s ride.

We stopped at one of the villages so that Dave could check something on his bike. Within a minute, we were surrounded by small curious children. I asked if I could take their photograph. Somewhat hesitant at first, they burst into laughter and shouts when I showed them their pictures on the camera.

 

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The track we rode is between the house and the fence
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Beautiful children
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One boy is hiding from the camera
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They’re warming to to the camera now!
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This guy is raising his rooster for cock-fighting
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Village scene
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Laundry Day

We were not far from the city, but we were certainly WAY off the beaten tourist track. We were in amongst the villagers, seeing how they live. Dave is fluent in Khmer, so he is able to communicate with locals wherever we stop and can give me relevant information. That’s such a bonus, as much would be missed without a guide who speaks the local language.

We continued through several villages on narrow tracks, as we tried to stay as close to the Mekong River as possible. At one point, we left the villages behind and passed through a wooded region that was full of differently coloured butterflies. Beautiful.

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 Brief rest-stop next to the Mekong

We continued to follow tracks alongside the Mekong and then  crossed a small wooden bridge (we had to pay a minor toll to cross).

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Small bridge that we rode over

Next up were several stretches of soft sand, but they didn’t cause me any trouble or concern. They probably weren’t as deep as the sand that caused me problems a couple of days ago. But I am also slowly improving my off-road skills. I could certainly feel a difference today.

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One of the sandy stretches

We had over two hours riding these single-tracks, through villages, wooded areas and sandy stretches. It was a blast! It would have been a travesty if we had by-passed this opportunity in order to reach Phnom Penh last night. This morning’s ride proved that the decision to overnight in Kampong Cham was the right one. These two hours are up in the running for the best riding segment of the tour.

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Overlooking the Mekong

In order to get into Phnom Penh at a reasonable time, we abandoned the riverside tracks and switched to tarmac and, later, highway. We were able to reach the hotel in Phnom Penh by about 1.00pm, leaving the rest of the day to relax.

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Dave spotted these ladies as we were driving past. Another food-tasting opportunity not to be missed.
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Bananas inside sticky rice, cooked in a banana leaf
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Sticky rice and banana. Delicious. You can also get a glimpse of the road dust that is ever present on the tracks and dirt roads.

We now have two hotel nights in Phnom Penh, so it provides an opportunity to get some laundry done (on previous nights, riding gear has been laundered in the bathtub). I was also able to get a two-hour massage to work out the kinks in my back and neck.

Tomorrow, we’ll visit the Killing Fields and the museum.

 

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