Bike Change for Kulen Mountain

Today’s day-trip out of Siem Reap was a ride up the 487 metre high Phnom Kulen Mountain, considered the most sacred mountain in Cambodia. It was the birthplace of the Khmer Empire. As the riding on the mountain is more technical than I have experienced on the tour, Dave suggested that I switch bikes and use a Yamaha WR250, instead of the Suzuki DR-Z400 I’ve been riding for the rest of the tour.

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My bike for the day – Yamaha WF250
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Dave and I, ready for today’s ride

When we first set off, I didn’t like the feel of the Yamaha. It is more revvy than the Suzuki, requiring quick gear changes. It just didn’t feel as comfortable. However, once we got off road and onto the tracks, the Yamaha came into its own and quickly grew on me. It is a lighter bike, more agile with more responsive steering. I found that it was easier to make quick turns on the Yamaha than on the heavier Suzuki. The lighter Yamaha also handled the soft sand better than the DR-Z, which seemed to wallow more in the sand, leaving me feeling quite uncomfortable. To clarify, I still don’t like the soft sand, but I’m more confident riding it with the Yamaha.

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Schoolgirls stop to watch us, as we stop for drinks
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Food stall near the mountain, selling honeycomb, beeswax and bottles of honey
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Honeycomb, with larvae inside. Live bees are all over it.

Once we got to the mountain, we headed to the area of the waterfall where we ate lunch. After lunch, we walked down the steps to view the waterfall.

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Monks at the waterfall

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We rode from the waterfall area and headed to the ‘bat cave’. This cave has a couple of shrines set up inside and definitely has bats.

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Entrance to the ‘bat cave’
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One of the shrines inside the cave
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A sacred pool inside the cave
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Exit from the cave

Next up was some technical riding to reach the stone elephant. The route included some tightly twisting one-track lanes through a wooded area, as well as stretches of soft sand and rocky boulders, and a couple of water crossings.

This was the first time that I’d ridden over boulders but they didn’t cause me any challenges. The Yamaha handled them very well. And its nimbleness inspired confidence when riding the narrow winding tracks through the trees (even if I was going a tad slow).

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LOL – makes it look like I was going fast
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Tricky terrain with boulders and sand

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Narrow dirt track

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We got to the top, parked the bikes and walked to see the stone elephant and lions that were carved out of the rock there.

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Stone elephant and lions

 

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After relaxing for a few minutes by the statues, it was time to head back down the mountain and back to Siem Reap.

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A view of the surrounding countryside

The bikes are now safely parked at Kickstart and will stay there tomorrow. I have one more day left of the ten-day tour but have opted not to ride on the last day. Instead, we are going to visit some nearby attractions by car.

 

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