The Long Way Drowned 4 – Cambodia 2012
Ok so I know the small but dedicated group who follow my various adventures believe I am still kicking the crap out of my dead bike on a muddy road in southern Uganda - as I still have not finished that Ride Report...
...but the truth is I am sitting back home packing furiously to kick off a ride in Cambodia. The African report will be finished soon i swear as I am just taking a break from Africa for a bit...the bikes sitting in Nairobi waiting for the continued adventure...
So we are doing Cambodia again. A bigger bunch of lads this year – 8 of us. The usual culprits plus a few. There’s stalwart Brian who swears he is not coming just for the beer; Owen who has not joined a trip since the Vietnam Laos ride where he broke his collar-bone in deepest darkest nowhere; Wheelie Joe who has done them all and loves a bit of Culture; Cameron who is now legendary on Youtube for his spectacular bail off a bridge into a bamboo field last year in Cambodia; James who is furiously prepping for the Dakar in a months time; John who is allegedly some sort of nuclear physicist; Noel who is called Mr Naughty for some unknown reason (actually so is Owen and Brian which can cause confusion and mayhem) and your writer who doesn’t need much of an excuse to go ride bikes in foreign lands.
If you missed last year’s craziness here is a link to the report:
We all head off tomorrow to the place where all good south-east-Asian adventures should start – one night in Bangkok – the city of sin...
Watch this space...
Magnets and Chinese massage
It’s 6am on D-Day – I have been tossing and turning for the last two hours in terrible pain. I put my shoulder out a few days ago and yesterday’s session with Suzan – a Chinese masseur of bodybuilding proportions – has not helped...neither have the "astounding magnetic plasters" I stuck on there. I bought them for Brian as they allegedly have incredible healing powers and that boy needs healing. Guess we will have to try something else on him.
We fly in 15 hours. Back to Suzan for another round of torture. Gotta crack this thing today. Drinks at the airport with lads tonight and a very busy day ahead doing my usual last-minute packing...
Good Grief!!! :eek1 I just finished reading your last years report. I have a couple of friends that are headed over there in Jan. They have no clue what they are in for.....:lol3
However--I'm for sure in for this report.:deal
Back from the physio. Susan broke the spasm’d knot and possibly even the whole shoulder. I admire that girls fervour and dedication to her task... Susan would be disqualified as a sumo wrestler for having an unfair natural advantage. She would have ended the Second World War in no time at all. Yes I gave up all my secrets without her even asking. She started out by applying some kind of acid to my back. I assume this was to assist her next effort which was to scrape away my skin with some sort of torture instrument. When the offending muscle was finally revealed she removed it, pummeled it into submission and then returned it to my frail body. Just to make sure it understood who was boss she applied some more of the acid stuff to the open carcass. But all that paled into pleasant insignificance when she started on the underside of my feet...
Brian says that this type of injury is quite common amongst those who do not drink enough beer. Something to do with keeping the muscles in a permanent state of relaxation. 7 hours to departure – will listen to the clever man and start drinking immediately.
How Mr Naughty got his name
When we finally get to the airport we find Owen in a very happy state having already consumed six pints of Guinness. Owen is accident prone and as he had heard about my shoulder injury he is making sure it doesn’t happen to him. I express reservations about the sheer quantity he has consumed and he replies “This trip is not for pussies”. We all tuck in to beers with sincere dedication to the cause.
James is flying with a different carrier tomorrow and Noel is flying in from the UK so it’s just the six of us for now. The sound of my name being called repeatedly slowly filters into my conscious space so we all dash off downing our last pints and just make the flight. Thai Airways is not great and the service crew are inherently grumpy. By now various members of our party are no longer in control of their faculties and are starting to behave strangely. This is going to be a difficult flight. Owen wants a beer but the staff refuse. This doesn’t make him happy. He tries to bribe a trolly dolly and she threatens to restrain him. Eventually we get airborne and beers are delivered. Owen and Brian make happy little sucking noises and peace is restored. About two hours later Owen’s built-in safety system kicks in and he passes out instantly. Naturally this is the perfect time to take a picture of the man.
He slips in and out of consciousness for the rest of the flight, mostly to drink more beer between bouts of drooling on his shirt. Being good friends we want to protect his head so we cover it with pillows:
Mr Naughty<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
The heart of the Bangkok beast
We finally land in the city of sin and clear through immigration and customs with relative ease. Thailand is tourist friendly so they make things easy. While Brian goes off in search of a taxi-bus Owen buys a stock of local beers for the very long trip to the hotel. We all crack a frosty and head off into the early-morning congestion of Bangkok.
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Our hotel is the “Nana Plaza Hotel” which directly overlooks the actual plaza itself. This was forward thinking by Brian to ensure the shortest path between the heart of the beast and the hotel so that the early morning crawl home would be as painless on the knees as possible.
Bangkok is the place where seedy old men come to die in masturbatory heaven, the place where it’s difficult to distinguish between cockroaches and wierdo's...and what better place to take it all in then Nana Plaza. Pick any bar near the entrance to the den and sit there for hours watching the obscure hustle and bustle pass you as you suck on beers fuelled by lecherous barmaids. After we check in we go for breakfast at “The Busstop" nearby. Then someone (possibly Owen) suggests we have a few beers before a much needed nap.
40 beers later the six of us stumble out of the "Stumble Inn" crawling across the road to our suitably dodgy accommodation past the notorious “Lady Boys” that ply the pavements and tempt unknowing newbies. I slip into beautiful unconsciousness.
View from hotel room where it all starts...the Stumble Inn
Bangkok Part 1
Noel finally arrives and the lads celebrate the re-union down at the "stumble Inn" bar. Owen and I are still snoozing but we join them eventually. The main focus of our evening is the corner bar where one catches the passing space-cadet show from both the main street and the entrance to the plaza. Food is ordered from right below us on the side-walk consisting of the local delights. Owen is itching to see a "show" so he, Brian and I walk into the Plaza and stick our heads into various sleazy go-go girly bars. We eventually choose one on the top floor where we had all seen a ping-pong show on the 2009 Vietnam-Laos ride. Same place, new owners different theme... Owen wants to sneak a strictly illegal photo of the girls and is spotted by one of them who reports him to management.
A rare and highly illegal Nana Plaza bar pic
He is confronted by a very angry manager who informs him that he will be beaten senseless by a bouncer. He tells her "let's not dwell on the past, what's done is done, let's talk about a happy future"...she scowls and walks off and to distract him from his naughtiness I ask Owen what he thinks of two very attractive women sitting watching the show near us. He says they are certainly very cute...an American leans over and says “hey dudes those are dudes"...<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
We beat a hasty retreat to the safety of the bars down below where the rest of the lads are drinking hard.
Nana Plaza shuts down at 2am so the local lady who owns the bar tells us her sister has a “night club” very close by that stays open until 6am. I gather the herd together as best as possible and we follow her around the corner where a “night club” is hastily created on the sidewalk for our benefit. Noel and Owen decide to spice things up a little with some impromptu Karaoke. A few tables down a bizarre collection of indeterminable-gender creatures are doing their best to entice drunken tourists into their web of smutty deceit.<o:p></o:p>
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Bangkok Part 2
I am getting complaints from different quarters that this is supposed to be a Ride Report not a beer-fest. Please be patient, the riding is coming soon. I am merely documenting the run-up to the actual riding part. It’s my job as official ride journo...<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
<o:p>Alternative sidewalk food</o:p>
<o:p>She used to go by the name of Dave</o:p>
It’s 3am and our newly-built Night Club has lost its appeal. We are now down to the hard-core inner circle of the boy’s (and your writer who always has to stand to the bitter end in order to properly document events) who decide it’s time to find a new location. We stagger back to our hotel that has a real night club on the ground floor. They want us to pay a cover charge so we abandon that idea and find a nearby spot to eat some violently insane Tom Yum soup. We then move to a nearby coffee shop to drink more beer and watch the early-morning madness unfold. At this hour the very lowest echelons of Bangkok life come out to play. The dregs of humanity have all finally gone home and it’s just us and these strange creatures. Five bare-footed tourists with back-packs silently walk past us up the filthy street, reach the intersection and then walk backwards all the way past us again. Ladyboys gone wrong are trying it on with anything vaguely resembling anything. It’s now around 5am so we head back to the hotel and discover the night club is just closing up. We ask them if there is any chance of getting a drink for the ditch to which they say go away in colourful language. Owen immediately says “Free drinks for everyone” so they 15 or so staff immediately agree and the bar is open again.
The staff look really happy now that they are open again
Owen is now on a roll and ups the ante by suggesting champagne for all and not just any champagne but Moet. I point out that he has absolutely no money whatsoever as I confiscated his wallet much earlier in the evening when he tried to give 100 dollar bills to random strangers in exchange for a half-drunk beer. He says I shouldn’t get hung up on technicalities.
Owen and Noel butter up the head of security
Round after round after round and it’s now 6am and our bus to Cambodia will be arriving in a couple of hours. Owen and Noel are being difficult about the whole time thing as they have only just started (they claim) so I slowly coax Owen into the lift using the old “carrot technique” – an empty beer bottle. Noel has sort of passed out in what is soon to become the hotel’s breakfast area so he is safe for now. I manage to get Owen to his room and he finally slips into unconsciousness and crashes half into bed. His arms and upper torso are on the bed but his legs are sprawled across the floor. He hasn't quite made it. An hour later we need to leave so I fetch whoever is up and we try to reboot him. Someone suggests we slip an illegal substance into his nose but that would be too expensive as he has a huge nose. Finally Brian empties a bottle of ice-cold water over his head and I see a faint gleam of light in one eye. I tell him to empty another one and indeed a flicker of life appears in the other. Finally he responds, wobbles to his feet and without saying a thing staggers over to his still- closed wheeler suitcase which he then uses as a Zimmer-frame to assist his uncertain auto-path to the elevator. He is not talking which may have something to do with his attempts to get his eyes to focus on something to create a frame of reference. We join the still sleeping noel downstairs to assemble the troops for a quick bite before we get on our bus. Owen, Noel and I have a beer for breakfast and start to feel normal again...there was a short moment back there where our alcohol levels dropped dangerously low. We finish up and stagger out to our waiting bus for the long road to Siem Reap in Cambodia.<o:p></o:p>
Liquid breakfast at the Nana Plaza hotel
Rather than fly, Brian has decided we will do a road trip to Cambodia from Thailand. His sound reasoning is that one can only drink so many beers on a one hour flight but a whole lot more on a road trip. Our bus is a fully pimped pleasure mobile with a cooler box and lots of beer.
A familiar warm fuzzy sight for regular readers
It will take us around 4 hours to get to the notorious Poipet border crossing and then another 3 to Siem Reap in Cambodia due to the traffic. When you factor the border crossing in that’s a good 8 hour stint...with a bunch of seriously drunk teenagers in a confined space. This is going to be interesting.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
Owen can no longer keep his head vertical.<o:p></o:p>
The first part of this journey is fairly uneventful with various heads slumping and a bit of drool between beers. By the time we get to the border everyone is cut but Noel and Owen have exceeded all expectations. At this point they are functioning at the lowest levels of process. Simple amoeba can perform more tricks. Unfortunately the border crossing on the Thai side is total chaos and requires sharp wit. The queue is about 500 meters long, extending way outside the immigration building and it shuffles at a snail’s pace.
At least they have snacks along the way (yup roaches)
When eventually Owen presents what is left of his shattered body to the official it is not a pretty sight. He decides that the goose-neck camera used to take your picture is some kind of reality TV show and proceeds to pull faces at it. Then he tries to use it as a microphone. We all pretend we don’t know him (aside from Noel who can’t do much of anything) but our common t-shirts give it away. Noel lurches forward to join Owen in a serenade completely unaware that he is in a Thai government department. Actually he is probably unaware that he is anywhere at all. I think the sheer lunacy frightens the official who probably thinks to himself that they are exiting the country so best speed things along before an incident occurs. He stamps their passports and someone pushes them in the direction of the outbound door. No man’s land presents a challenge as one must carry or drag your possessions from the one border to the other, about 500 feet. The journey is long and perilous for the two lads who manage it in small little stages. Several shuffles and a pause, reboot, re-assess and then shuffle again. Occasionally their path would be blocked by a beast or person and they would retreat a few paces to mutually confer on the blockage. It was pretty much each man to himself for all of us by then but we made it to the other side with Owen and Noel finally joining us an hour or so later.
A bus pulls up and blocks their way so they just wait for it to go away
We are met with yet another insane queue but manage to bribe our way past them to a sheltered drinking hole where we can wait while a “VIP” official expedites our passport processing. It actually lands up taking longer but at least we are sitting in the shade and drinking beer.
Owen listing badly
Two German girls sit down near us also waiting for their passports so Owen mumbles something about showing us how good he is at chatting up girls. He takes out a few chairs lurching over to them and sits down right next to one. Leaning in for the kill he belches before starting his routine. As we all know he hasn’t opened his case for the last two days we are aware that he has not put a tooth-brush anywhere near his teeth. For some strange reason the girls abruptly depart which causes the man much confusion as he knows deep down in his pin-sharp brain that this is something he is definitely good at. Noel is complaining that someone has drooled on his t-shirt. All is going very well. We eventually get our passports and someone manages to work out that we need to board a public bus that will take us to our private bus waiting about 3 miles away. It is total chaos as our bike-gear bags barely fit through the door and few of us can function enough to figure out the puzzle. Other tourists wisely decide to wait for the next one as we head off into the frenzied border town with the lads trying to sing something that is horribly wrong.
The actual border crossing has taken more than two hours so when we get to our private bus the sun is beginning to set already. Before climbing in the boys want to see evidence that there is a substantial quantity of beer on board so Brian is elected to investigate. Our hosts Hidden Cambodia Dirt Bike Tours have come through as we discover crates of the sacred liquid under the seats.
Owen thinks he is still in front of the Immigration Officer
Ride Reports is the Family Channel of this site. The previous post is not family / coworkers safe and has been punted. Please keep in mind that the Ride Reports forum is not Jo Momma..
Bring on the ride report. :thumb
Siem Reap Cambodia
Apologies for overstepping the mark GB...will keep it as clean as a Long Way Drowned Ride Report could possibly be...:deal<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
We finally arrive in Siem Reap, Cambodia where our Ride starts tomorrow. Technically that is. We are greeted by our eighth and final rider John who is too soft to do a road trip so he flew directly here instead “to do the cultural thing”. Noel has regained sufficient functionality to discover he no longer has his iPhone and then the hotel asks for our passports and he’s lost that too. We start a register of losses and Noel is well in the lead already. Siem Reap is a wonderful little town – well worth visiting if you are in these parts. We assemble what is left of our shattered group and head down to Pub Street for dinner at Molly Malone’s Irish Pub. With our first solid meal for days under the belt spirits are on the mend so we wander down the street to see what’s up in this wonderful little town. We stop at a random bar and sit on the sidewalk watching the passing trade. A trio of street kids selling “friendship” bangles attacks us and the lads are generous with their purchases. Owen donates the disco-laser pointer he bought on the streets of Bangkok to the tiniest of the three – a little boy who is over the moon with his new toy. They strike up a rich friendship that ends with much dancing in the street and a serious bout of permanent-marker tattoo work on each other. Brian snaps off these pics on the streets of our evenings entertainment:
Later we go tuk-tukking around town in search of late-night munchies:
We finally find a place in some back street where Noel promptly passes out in his chair:
The lads waste no time in assesing his camatose balancing capabilities, to test his potential for tomorrow's day-one ride naturally:
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The night is showing signs of giving in to dawn and so we head back to our beds to grab a few hours before our first day's ride...
Day 1 - Actual riding!
A few hours later the bedraggled group drag their sorry asses down to the front of the hotel where our van is waiting to take us to the headquarters of Hidden Cambodia Dirt Bike Tours. A few can’t be roused so we depart leaving instructions for the balance to get a cab when they get their act together. This year we are all better prepared riding kit wise – now aware as to just how tough this terrain can be. Our host Paul has assured us it will be even tougher this year with a mix of mud, sand and rocks. Today will be an average ride to ease the newbies into Cambodia style riding.
Paul gestures while the rest of us watch Noel to see if he will fall asleep on his legs
Leaving the headquarters of Hidden Cambodia Dirt Bike Tours we head out into the Cambodian countryside. Its day one and the lads are heavily hung-over so we keep it easy, a mix of black-top, gravel and a few little tasters of what's to come with river crossings and the usual endless pot-holed country lanes.
A typical gnarly Cambodian back road
This is beautiful countryside
It wasn't me! Brian's exhaust can falls off
We are finally on the bikes...it has been a long journey getting to this moment but we are all here on the bikes and actually riding in Cambodia.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
We are heading for the second largest city of Battambang and at our first rest-stop the more hard-core elite riders refresh their alcohol levels with a local beer as you do.
Owen experimenting with a non-alcoholic beverage for the first time since he left home<o:p></o:p>
<o:p>My bike pissing oil - turns out it was filled to much</o:p>
Noel in a rare sober pic with your writer<o:p></o:p>
If you google Battambang the general consensus amongst travellers is that Cambodia's second biggest city is not happening. The boys are forced to retire to bed. This will be our first decent night's sleep since we left home.
The baboons didn't eat you.
don't speak the 'ozzie' that well, but you all "look like my kinda blokes"..... and to hell w/the poncy hairdressers that run this place, i wanna see the good pics.. :evil
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