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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by The Bigfella, Nov 10, 2011.
keep up the good work mate. loving it
Bloody Hell Bigfella.
Have just picked up on your travels, have looked at the last 2 pages of your tour. Gob smacked!
Very impressive, great photo's, well done
Makes my travels incidental.
And inspires my next travels into South East Asia
Did you manage to get your end away ?
Awesome trip, stunning pics!
I'm in Phnom Penh. I'm enjoying it a lot more than when I was here a couple of years back. I'm in a hotel with good staff, well away from the bars... reasonably quiet area and only $15 a night. More on that later
Its funny how they keep tabs on you here though. Maybe I stand out a bit.? A tuk tuk driver I've used a couple of times said the other day.... after I'd been out on the bike to watch the Rugby test at the sports bar "I see you buy that beggar lunch". Strange. The beggar was a landmine victim... one leg. I'll give any hungry bugger a feed.. but not cash. There's dozens of beggars down at the riverfront though and its all a bit of an industry. This particular guy, said he was hungry, so we ordered up some fried rice with pork... and he buggered off... went begging down the street. His meal sat on my table for 10 minutes before I ate it. Silly old bugger. I told him as much too, when he eventually came back. The chances of my hotel guy seeing it? Pretty slim. Guess he just followed me for something to do... there's so many of them sitting around waiting for a fare.
My dining companion last night was a girl with a horribly sick looking baby. He was too young to feed - still on the boob, but she got into it. Hopefully the kid is OK. Kid pissed all over her and the chair in the end.
Some spares for the bike would be nice... but the KTM shop here is still setting up... and they didn't want to place a spares order for me. Such is life. I'll source them through my normal sources I think and bring them back with me.
Here's the sales manager at the shop
Plenty of bikes... about 15, mostly Dukes, but with some dirt bikes and a 990 Adventure.
If he'd been keener, I'd have ordered in $1000 or so of bits. I'm not too worried though, Siem Reap isn't far up the road and I'll only be riding local around there before I head home for Christmas, via Chiang Mai to get the Super Enduro. I did pick up another 4 wheel bearings yesterday. $6.50 for 4 at the Russian Market. Bet they'll be good for at least 200km if I need them.
There's plenty of bikes for hire.. 250cc dirt bikes galore
This place was on 51 Street,
The ride here was "interesting", as usual. I did a ferry crossing of the Mekong, just south of Kratie, and followed the river for about 3 hours on local roads of varying quality. I bottomed out the rear suspension numerous times, as I was hammering it a bit. That's 13" of suspension travel IIRC. Part of the issue is I'm down to no glasses again. I've still got the ones I bought 5 weeks ago, but the mud and slush, etc has them so scratched now that I see better without them. Hammering along the track, one occasionally misses seeing a deep hole in time.... ker bloody thump. Ouch. I'm thinking I may need a rear shock rebuild sometime soon too.
Some photos from the last few days. Gecko lizards are common in SE Asia... sometimes making a nuisance of themselves in your room at night. This bloke was unusual. About 12" long. Eating crickets in the bar at my guesthouse in Kratie.
and here's something you don't see every day. A better mousetrap. Maybe. He's smearing contact cement all over this... and presumably he adds some sort of tempter to it
That was out at Pheak's mates place... where we sat in the kitchen, took in the view... the kitchen has two open walls.... and chewed the fat
Speaking of which... deer jerky
.... and a bit of pork on its way to market
I saw another trailer behind a bike the other day and I was trying to decide whether it had 3 cows in it or 4. 3 I think, but hard to tell as it was crowded. Bikes with trailers are everywhere here. Other parts of Asia, its sidecars.
Riding south from Stung Treng further north in Cambodia, the landscape had that raped rainforest look to it.
If this next photo isn't shaky, it should be.
There's not a lot of air in that tyre and I'd just wrestled it around a 95 kph corner. It sure as hell wasn't a smooth line around the corner. I really did go close to dropping it... at speed. Silly prick. I don't know how it stayed on the rim. No trouble breaking the bead to change it.
Worked up a sweat none the less
But the locals wanted to help. Here's my spare tube being pinched ...
Terrorising the local kids
Thank you beers for the lads
One of the women came out with these two rolls of sticky rice. They were terrific. One had a cooked banana core... red in colour, the other some sort of bean mix.
All packed in banana leaf wrapping.
Here I am... 15 km up the road, doing it all again.
I'd hit the brake to slow down for the town and nearly pitched it again on a flat front from the tube they pinched.
They do love their weird statues in Asia. I think this one is a pigeon crapping on the world
Two different styles of net fishing on the Mekong. This first one was a boat just out from my guesthouse in Kratie
Small boat, small net.
And, a bigger setup from down the river, between Kratie and Phnom Penh
The track was reasonable in places south of Kratie... but none of the wet season damage had been repaired, so it was holed, rutted and bumpy. It was much better than barrelling down the main highway
I saw a fair few of these in one area. I'm presuming they are for storing cattle fodder or for drying things. Its mud daubed woven bamboo. Open at the bottom
It really is like stepping back 100 years in time
A bit more modern here... one of the utlilitarian farm trucks... with its chugging diesel and lots of school kids on pushbikes on their way home
I've seen dozens of these shelters erected on roads this last week. All for the religious ceremonies going on here
My water bottle punctured, so I stopped to drink it. A couple of kids came up looking for money I think, but I just said G'day. Then Mum turned up and grabbed my arm. She wouldn't let go. Kept holding one finger up... presumably asking for a dollar. Quite persistent. Not a tourist area, so I dunno.
Quite a lot of traffic in places... then this. Hardly anyone. My map here's crap, so I was just asking people at intersections which way it was to Phnom Penh by this stage. I ended up near half way to Siem Reap, I see now, looking at a better map.
At one t intersection, I got told both ways to PP. I asked a few more people and took the most popular answer. That's when I went towards Siem Reap for a while. Not an issue.
I went through a few rubber plantations
I ended up doing about 5 1/2 hours in the saddle on the way to PP from Kratie. About 3 hours on local roads and then I plugged PP into the GPS and headed where told to by Mr Garmin.... down the main roads, which are pretty sad affairs. LOTS of potholes and the traffic is crazy in the way that is Asia. Drivers who overtake around corners or pull out to overtake while you are going past them, drivers and riders who simply pull onto the roads.... kids, animals, leftover stuff all over the road and so on.
I had a couple of bikes pull out of nowhere onto the road in front of me from the other side. I'm hurtling along at 95 kph and suddenly two bikes are coming across at right angles. I ended up going through the 6' gap between them... with half my speed knocked off. I could have gone into the dirt instead, but sheesh. A Lexus did the same thing to me at a petrol station... just pulled out, so I gave him the finger. I got the feeling he was chasing me... lights on, etc (daytime lights are illegal here)... and I thought I heard a siren, so I got into it and left him well behind. Another driver just pulled out to overtake while I was overtaking him... and I had my thumb on the horn... so I gave his mirror a bash. It was quite funny really... his female passenger threw her knees up and her arms up over her head. Sorry luv... didn't mean to scare you... its him that needs to know he's got a mirror for a reason.
Most times when an oncoming vehicle... car, truck, bus... is on my side of the road now, I lift my boot up and out... so that its at mirror height. A lot of them pull back a few inches which gives a bit more room... but the odd few will swerve at you. I really do prefer the back roads. The sights are interesting though
I reckon Ive seen these vans with at least 40 people in and on them. About 10 hanging out the back, 6-8 on top and the rest crowded inside. I'll try and get a better photo. There's heaps of them out there... I've even seen a passenger in the front steering... with about 6 or so crammed in the front, and the driver texting while someone else steers. Normally the driver just texts and steers
The Mekong floodplain was quite extensive coming into PP. There were dozens of motorbikes beside the road with poles that had dead birds for sale hanging from them. Damned if I know what they are. Beak is a bit duck-like but the feet aren't webbed.
It felt a bit funny when my GPS delivered me to a street that I recognised from a couple of years ago. I pulled up at the same cafe where I'd watched a world cup soccer game with my tuktuk driver.... but gave up on them when my noodles hadn't arrived after 40 minutes. The tea and coffee was good though. The staff moved my bike....
I'd parked in front of the next cafe. Bit naughty that, it would seem.
I'm actually enjoying Phnom Penh this time. I didn't two years ago. I saw young kids offering it for sale then. Haven't seen that this time. I've seen more adults doing it though. There's quite a bar scene here now. I've got a hotel well away from that - down towards the S-21 Toul Sieng Genocide Museum. Haven't revisited it yet. Might do. Might not.
My hotel, the Starwood, is a good 3-4 star guesthouse . 1st floor room (a bonus) $15. No girls in the foyer... a good, relaxing place. Bike security seems OK... they park it in behind other bikes and there's staff there 24 hours a day. Nice local noodles just around the corner for brekkie (2 coffees and noodles with meatballs is $3.50). Two massage places... one's a club affair, with Lexii and Range Rovers... I had to go there last night as the other place was flat out. Cost me $7 for a sauna and one hour massage. The other place was $8 for 2 hours the other day. No sleaze at either (sign at the club says "No drugs, no arms, no sex trafficking"
The town's still a bit of a hassle with the extended funeral for the King. I got through 6 out of 8 police barricades I encountered the other day. I ran one of the outer ones yesterday and ignored the police whistles.... and got through them all after that.
Spent Saturday afternoon at Paddy's Rice Sports Bar and watched the rugby. I went to the Russian Market in the morning. There's some brilliant shopping there. Some of the best I've seen. I bought some Mont Blanc pens as bag stuffers for Christmas.... and those extra wheel bearings (I'm not sure they'll ever go in the bike unless absolutely needed).
Yesterday, it was back to Paddy's for the MotoGP. I got a bit annoyed with my local massage place last night though... I came out and the bike was leaning on the wall. Some clod had climbed on it and the sidestand had busted right off. I'd taken the bike in to be washed the other day... and they got a bit over enthusiastic
They didn't lay the bike over btw... I did, so we could work on it
The mechanic there tried a whole heap of different things, but we welded it in the end. Welding aluminium weakens it, of course... It would have been OK if no-one climbed on it, but this is Asia. I guess today's priorities have changed. I was going to go out to the Steung Meanchey rubbish dump. Now I get to try and find a workshop to fabricate a new sidestand.
Absolutely brilliant RR ! ! ! ! ! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Love SE Asia . . . . . . .
Thanks for the great pix and write-up.
Thanks Watercat. You wouldn't be a sailor by any chance? We used to race a Tornado many a long year ago.
Meanwhile... here's the ride this morning from my guesthouse to the bike shop. About 9:15am in Phnom Penh, so peak hour's over and there's no kids around.
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I've had a couple of issues with the 570 lately... and I've paid the bike shop a couple of visits to get them sorted.
I think I've done 4,000km since leaving Chiang Mai, about 100 hours extra on the hour meter.
I've just put the 4th axle load of wheel bearings in this morning.... replacing the fronts again. The Koyo (Japanese) bearings that were the first to go in, up near Nakia in Laos. They'd loosened up to a fair old wobble when you grabbed the front wheel. Not sure of the distance... maybe 1,000 miles. Not being able to source new seals when I did them last time didn't help. Here's the spacer tube... covered in mud and showing the pressure the bearings have been under.
I think its time for new spacers too... there's some nasty wear on this one
I couldn't source more Japanese bearings, but I'd have to think the Korean ones we got today are better than Chinese? I'm carrying spare Chinese bearings that I'll only use if I have to. The good news is I sourced and installed new seals with these bearings - and have new rear seals for when I next do the rear bearings. The rears (1 x Japanese and 1 x Chinese) that I fitted in Attapeu were shot at 250 km... well, the Chinese one was, but I didn't replace them with 2 x Chinese bearings until I got to around 500km from there. Great eh? This mud is tough.
I came out from a massage the other night and found the bike leaning on a wall. My guess is someone climbed on and the weakened/welded sidestand that I showed in my last post snapped in half. I was a bit pissed off that they tucked it into the retaining strap and pretended it hadn't happened.
That welding failure raises an issue I've covered over on OC in the past. Welding aluminium... specifically, the rear subframe on the Super Enduros. I built a carbon fibre rear rack for my SE because those subframes have a reputation for cracking at a place where its drilled for a bolt. My subframe is still solid. I've seen others weld theirs and I wonder how many fail when that's done? Not a good move... welding aluminium really weakens it.... and trying to get it properly tempered even at home is nigh on impossible... and KTM aren't about to tell us what its tempered to. So... think about that if you are tempted to weld your subframe (yeah the 525's is cracked where they all crack.... I'll look at a solution there another year)
Back to the sidestand. She's welded up again... and I'm warning folks about climbing on...
Had to use a different bolt after this... head ground down to clear the spring because we added more metal and took out the insert.
Gotta keep an eye on your bike in the shops here. Glad it wasn't my forks being serviced here while the bolt got ground down
and the stand got "adjusted"
I had one of the guys washing out the air filter... and I turned around to see him with an air hose, blowing the dirt in. Um, hang on mate... why don't we blow it out... not in? He got the message.
I wandered over the road yesterday to another bike shop and had a chat to Dave, a Californian who's brought in a 990 Adventure as his "company car" here. He was fitting a decent set of horns
"My" bike shop was selling this BM 650 for about $8,500
I saw a Honda 230 dirt bike for sale elsewhere. Good secondhand condition $2,700.
I've decided not to re-visit either the S-21 Tuol Sleng Genocide museum or the Killing Fields again. Once is enough and I did that when I came through here on my way to Vietnam a couple of years back. Here's a shot from S-21 then. Not sure if I took it or Kylie.
Hopefully I'm back on the road again tomorrow... once this green rocket propelled stuff that keeps ejecting from my body disappears. I'm just doing an easy run to Siem Reap and tootling around there for a week or so before storing the bike there for 4 months or so. I'll come back with brakes, sprockets, etc for some more riding some time in the New Year or later. I've got to get back to Chiang Mai and somehow get the Super Enduro back to Oz.
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great adventure, bigfella
well, I do miss your SE but.......don´t you?
I wonder how many hours can they be working in that position:huh
Back to the RR . . . . .
I'm suffering from sensory deprivation.
Where's this weeks adventure, Ian?
Sorry SJ.... I've been meaning to, honest. I went through some pretty thin internet areas, but I've got plenty uploaded to work with now. Just need to find somewhere cool to sit.
Speaking of sitting... ata asked about how long people here can work like that... squatting on their haunches... seemingly forever. They all do it, young and old. They are damn flexible and damn fit.
Things are winding down a bit at this end. I'm in Siem Reap, which is where I'll leave the 525 for a few months. I need to be home by the start of December, as the missus goes in for her second hip replacement. I think I need to say something about her dedication here. She is a school teacher and she's struggled through this year in a lot of pain because she wouldn't desert her classes for a few months. Dedication above and beyond, methinks.
The 525 needs some bits replaced too. Its in pain....
Still, its got me here. I'll post up the ride from Phnom Penh to here later. I took a few detours to get away from the main roads. I still need to do the baa baa tourist thing and get out to Angkor Wat. I've seen it before, two years ago and I reckon I'll see it again when I come back to ride the Cardamoms.
In the meantime... for your sensory pleasure... how's this one?
And let me introduce you to Cambodia's newest adventure rider. Chin Chin is but 8 weeks old. That's her dad, who will be minding the 525 for me.
I've told him in no uncertain terms that it will NOT be in their room with them. There's 4 of them living in the one room... and I'll take the risk on it being outside... with a big chain on it.
I'm on a flight out of here on Nov 1... back to the SE in Chiang Mai. I want to ride the Mae Hong Son loop, with its 1864 corners (I've done the bottom half of it already). I need to get transport for the bike sorted, either by ship or plane out of Bangkok.... should be home by Dec 1.
Update later. Its my mate's day off today, so I might ask him to help me with an oil change and sourcing a chain and cover. I'm so nice eh?
So, to finish off Phnom Penh, this time around at least, I guess I should explain a bit more of why I didn't get out to the Killing Fields.
I've seen enough death and destruction over the years.... and I don't think a second visit is going to inform me any more than the first.
Here's a couple of shots from my first Asian ride, a bit over two years ago. I came through here with a friend, we went down the Mekong and bought scooters and headed north on that trip.
The Killing Fields
There were signs there asking people to not walk on the mass graves... but this next shot is the pathway. That's human bones coming through everywhere and bits of clothing.
The Khmer Rouge were absolute scum... and there's plenty of them still breathing, unfortunately.
I guess the hangover of that and the impending end of the trip slowed me down a bit in PP.
Its a funny feeling. After 15 months, 10 of them on the road, and I've finally reached the end point of this trip. Sort of, and almost. There's a month to go in Thailand and I'll have the "new" bike here for a ride or two more up here. That'll be the Cardamoms in Cambodia and back to Laos.... in the dry, maybe. Then, it looks like Burma may be a possibility in a year or two. I'd like to set up a Cardamom trip with another rider or two along. Try the old smuggler's track maybe. Definitely not a ride to do alone.
I made it to Siem Reap after two dusty days on the road from Phomh Penh.... not in a straight line, of course. I stopped at Kampong Thom so that I could take a morning stroll through the three Sambor Prei Kuk compounds.
These particular temples are the start of it all in relation to the temples and monuments that would eventually include Angkor Wat some 800 years later. Sambor Prei Kuk is pre-Angkorian, started in 609 AD and we are very lucky it survives. The US Air Force dropped 200 bombs on it in 1971-72, destroying a lot of the temples. In the central compound, only one of the original 42 survives. What's left is still amazing.
Latest route map. Last two days is dark grey from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.
I took some back roads from there and eventually rejoined the main highway for the last 100km or so. Lots of water out there on the plains... most people in it one way or the other... with fishing nets, scoops or whatever... chasing protein.
I've caught up with my mate, who's flat out with work at the moment, but we've had dinner a couple of times and I've been out to see his family. He's still got his old tuk tuk from when I met him a couple of years ago, but its his new van that's bringing home the money now. There's 10,000 drivers in this town now... mostly in tuk tuks. He's a good bloke and I was happy to help him get the van. Most days he's got both on the road.
It was good to catch up with Jeat. He's a guy with the right attitude.... and he's as crappy a subject for a photo as me...
Its also been good to stop in the one place for a few days, get some laundry done properly... starting to get the red dust out,,, and to recover from whatever bit of nasty food it was that churned my guts something fierce. I'm blaming this lady... she took me to a quality restaurant in PP... food was great going in, but, sheesh.....
Maybe it was her way of stopping me coming out to have a look at her NGO setup. She's got 2,500 kids and young adults that she (and 500 staff) are educating. All from families earning under 50 cents a day. Fascinating talking to her about it and some of the issues that I've been looking at on this trip. She cleared up a few of my questions.
Speaking of dining out, I saw an interesting side of things when I went out for dinner the other night with Jeat and friends. Four of us went to a "local" restaurant as he called it. When the bill came... four dishes, two buckets of beer (12 small bottles)... it was 180,000 kip.... $45. I commented that it was a bit much... he asked for it, looked at it, said something slightly heated to the waitress, who took it away. I asked what he said... "writing not clear". The bill came back... 80,000 kip. $20. The difference was "local prices". If anyone is coming here... and its well worth seeing... and wants a guide who will look after them, let me know.
Here's Jeat and Chin Chin
She's 8 weeks old.
and is giving him a bit of a hard time at night.
Here's the whole crew. I'm not sure whether to say this is in the kitchen or the garage... because its both
Jeat's settled down to married life since I was here June two years ago... during his last throes as a single man. Mei Mei was on the way and he wasn't too keen on settling down, but he's well there now. That's his original tuk tuk in the background. We went out the other night in his van, one of the many Ssanyong vans around here now. He's keeping it and the tuk tuk busy.
Its not an easy life though... he moved here because Mei Mei was too active around the main road he lived on before. This place is one room... and he was insisting my bike go in there, with the four of them. Um, no mate... the bike will go outside thanks.. I'll buy a big chain and a drop cloth. He's got a long way to go before he's what any of us would call set. Its well water there too, which I managed to avoid. His mum isn't too well either "her blood is very old". I reckon she might be around my age (he's coming up to 33, his wife 23).
We went to a live music venue the other night, one aimed at Cambodians, not tourists and were having a nice dinner, watching the singers when there was a scream and a crashing noise. A half dozen or so guys left and security put a human wall around a private room that was only about 5 metres from Jeat and I... and a cleaning team went to work. Turns out a cop smacked one of the hostesses in the mouth.... knocking a table flying in the process. Nice chap. Nothing came of it... and I doubt the cop(s) paid their bill.
Among all the singing, there was a middle aged woman come on... not dressed well, but when she started to sing.... her voice and songs were chillingly beautiful. We and many others tipped her.. the only singer to get money btw. She was a landmine victim.. no feet, on crutches.... singing to support her family. There's one new landmine victim every day in this country...
I said I'd "sort of" reached the end of the trip. I'm going to potter around here for a few more days, store the bike (petrol out, new oil, bit of oil in the cylinder, up on blocks if I can organise it) and then fly back to Chiang Mai on Nov 1. I've got a couple more rides to do up there... including finishing the Mai Hong Son loop... with its 1864 corners... and I've got to figure out how to get the big bike home. There's some bureaucracy involved and in the end it may be easier to fly it out, depending on how long my import approval takes to get. I went to fill the form in a while back, but I need to include a photo of the compliance plate, so I might be cutting it fine. Many guys in the past can't even get shipping agents to return a phone call. Time will tell.
Back to the ride. How's this for a load on a bike?
That was on the main highway... and I saw a couple of them like that. Its a Cambodian semi-trailer.
Then, there's this. If its sunny, you need a hat. Just grab a branch from the nearest tree.
That most certainly wasn't on the highway. Well off it in fact. It was back to kids looking up, seeing me and fleeing into the paddy fields. Sometimes, not always.
When I came back to the highway, I found this...
The load, including people, extended a couple of metres out the back of the van. There were 4 motorbikes out there... three of them bouncing along the road, a couple with people sitting on them. More on the roof. Maybe 30 or more people in a 12 seater van.
One of the earliest of the temples I mentioned (northeast of Kampong Thom by about 25km, half of it up a chewed out dirt road). Sambor Prei Kuk.
This damage inside one isn't from the USAF... its been raided for the gold under the floor... the stonework destoyed by a bomb
That's the female representative part of the show. The male part, umm, plugs in above ... like this (a photo I took in a museum in Vietnam, but its the same sort of thing)
One of heaps of bomb craters there
That's the clearance sign at the temple I visited today. They cleared 1.5 million square metres there, which isn't much, pulling over 400 mines and over 800 UXO items. There's an awful lot of mines and UXO in the wider area.
Nice temple. Beng Melea. It was built in the 14th century by the same king who built Angkor Wat. Its 63km from Siem Reap, so its less visited than most. Its sprawling... covering one square kilometre and quite heavily impacted by vegetation. Reminiscent of Ta Prohm (Tomb Raiders).
I'll sneak in s few more photos while I'm holed up in this restaurant, but most of them will have to wait.
This is the jungle track I backed out of a couple of days ago. Shoes and cotton trousers wasn't the gear to be riding in up 8' rock shelves... with 20km to go to the destination.
That, and the buggered sprocket on the bike convinced me to back down this trail.
The bike is still OK around town, but I'm taking it easy. I pulled up next to some traffic cops the other day. They weren't the slightest bit interested in checking out a bike with no rego plate.
This is the outside moat at Beng Melea (spelt at least 3 different ways in things I've seen)
I've seen heaps of old boats semi-submerged or abandoned as I've gone around.
Another typical warning sign. A branch on the road. In this case, go to the left... you die.... its a big, big hole.
some more from the Boang Melea temple. This was built in the 14th Century.
A Buddha or two among the rubble
I wasn't over enthused at walking on carvings.. there were obvious signs of wear... but it was an official guide who took me through. He was damn good too, pointing out some decent angles
Crocodile in the centre
Hey Hey, We're the Monkeys
I'm loading from the thumbnails, but I'm pretty sure this is the rhinocerous. There were also elephants, tortoises, etc
This one of a pair of the small libraries. Also two large ones
There's lots of Chinese tourists in town. Not lots of anyone out at this temple, but the Chinese made up the bulk. This guy was from Nanjing, where my daughter completed her TCM degree... spending 4 months there. She loved Nanjing.
Some of the blocks could use some re-aligning.
Some Roundup would help too.
.... and for something totally different... this lady was trying to earn a few cents selling waterlilly buds at a service station.
I was out on Tonle Sap ysterday - and got a couple of hundred shots of various boats and pier houses. I got to drive the tourist boat (did that last time I was here too)... I was quite surprised that they let me bring it up the channel... albeit with lots of piloting instructions.
Here's the road heading out of Siem Reap yesterday. It gets a lot worse than this.
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I rode out to a small town east of Siem Reap, near Tonle Sap, the big lake that dominates a map of Cambodia.
This lake is 26 times more productive than the North Sea apparently... one of the most fertile fishing grounds on the planet. Those upstream will stuff it eventually. I read yesterday of another 3 dams being built in Laos... despite not having approvals. Big hydro stuff.
Here's a boat being repaired
On the water again...
This kid pushed off the side of out boat... about a 40'er, jumped up onto the fixed rat tail of the boat... with its exposed, spinning 14" prop.... and dived back in, while we were moving.
Local secondary school
Local seafood. Luckily the owner's daughter sat down and peeled most of my prawns for me.
The other daughter, our waitress, is 5 days older than my youngest.
21 in two months
Apparently I was a good customer.
That guy surrounded by our evidence is from someone else's boat.... carrying a couple of American women. They didn't buy his lunch (nor did I), but I did at least give him a beer or two... along with my driver and crew. Saw the same thing last time I was here. Not good folks. Buy your guides lunch and a beer or four... they'll love it and they'll look after you like a long lost brother.
... and when you ask "Can I have a drive"...
No worries, not even in the traffic.
Our skipper actually hit another boat on the way out btw.... just a glancing blow. You sure wouldn't want to have had your fingers on the gunwale.
I'll be back later with more. We had a thunderstorm here a few hours ago and its thrown my planning (ha ha) out. I need to get an oil change on the bike. I don't want to leave it for 4-6 months with old oil in it. I'm planning on taking in the sunset from Angkor Wat too... before heading out for dinner with Jeat.
Great report Bigfella, I'll miss 'em when you return to Oz. I'll buy you a beer or three if you get to Perth
SJ... I presume you mean Jeat's tuktuk / van business. He's got a couple of headaches tonight. His tuk tuk starter went today and he's got alternator problems too by the look of it. Its been a hard life for that little Honda... 7 years pulling the tuk tuk.. and it was second hand when he got it. When I dropped the bike out to his room for storage, he brought me back in the van. He's loaned it to a mate for 2 days. Brake pads are gone.... and he's got an 8am pickup.
They are pretty slack in their approach to things here. I did a bit of prodding and suggesting.
We had a somewhat damaging night last night. Not so much the frogs or even the eel or the steamed fish. More the beersssssssss. I saw 3am on the watch as I hit the sack... and then the alarm went off at 6am to do the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Ummm... no thanks.
The guys I'd all met out in the sticks over beer and fried crickets two years ago. One of them piped up today out at Ta Prohm... the Tombraider temple as its known.... "Hello Mr Ian" as I went past his tour group... sheesh. Can't hide anywhere here. The girl is from LA... one of two girls that one of the guys was showing the local food to. They handled the influx of extras well.
Here's a couple from today for you. I had a good chat to these monks who ended up saying prayers for me after I made a donation for one of their causes.
I know this girl from two years ago. She's still the same bubbly kid. She saved me $50 last time. "Hey Mister.... you are losing your money" Anywhere else, she'd have followed me and scooped it up as it dropped out of my pocket.
As usual, there were wedding photos going on at Angkor Wat. Dunno how, but I seem to have missed the groom.
She spoke perfect English and thanked me when I asked her if the groom knew how lucky he is.
and on that note... I'm off for a massage. Tomorrow, I fly back to Chiang Mai
Can't believe this trip is coming to a close...
For me your interaction with the locals is what makes it a great read.
Thank you for sharing your adventures.
Hullo Mr Ian.
Sorry John... you'll have to wait. The forum just ate the 90 minute post I just put together.
Thanks Mark... I have to say, the friendliness of the locals has been a high point of the trip for me too. Its amazing just how welcoming they are. The trip's not over yet... and I've got some catching up to do on the writing.
I'm back in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The plan is to get the big bike shipping arranged, catch up with a friend's mate down the road a tad and take in some local events. I've just ridden the Mae Hong Son loop, with its 1864 curves. I'd done part of it before, but this time we took the dirt truck road and picked up the rest of the tar, so most of my planned riding is done.
There's also a couple of festivals here toward the end of the month (28th) - one entailing thousands of lanterns being released as hot air balloons at night, the other involving Hmong downhill cart races - although they are both on the same day I think and a bit apart. I've got my ticket already to fly out on the 29th. All that is as close to a plan as I've done the whole trip....
I had to take it easy for a few days. No booze, bland food, little activity. Damn near killed myself the last day I was in Cambodia. Food allergy. It hit me on the flight out of Cambodia to Bangkok... and my emergency pack ended up in the luggage after stuffups with carry-on gear. Late stage 1 treatment meant I got into stage 2 and the dreaded steroids. I was on the wind down of those last week and got hit again with a renewed and more serious attack. Never had that before... but have had anaphylaxis from it 10 years back which was intensive care hospital stuff for a couple of days. I was already having contra-indications from the steroids that'd have sent me to the hospital in Oz, but I just threw some more in and made it through. One of the staff here got upgraded to nurse duty for a while... sitting there with 5 Epipens lined up after a quick training session. I must remember to tip her when I leave. It was damn nice of her to do it for me.
I'd have been back to Oz already if it wasn't for all that. There's been a bit of death and destruction going on. My Dad's eldest sister died and I'd have gone to the funeral but for trying to stay breathing myself. I caught up with two other guys from Coffs Harbour here the other night (I was born and bred there for most of my younger years). Both here independently. Small world stuff. I used to race against one's father in Kittycats as a teenager (12' racing catamaran) and the other guy knew a mate of mine from many a year ago. Told me he was killed about 18 months back in a car crash. To make up the trio of death and destruction, the guy I bought the 525 off, Justin, went over the bars of his bike at speed the other day and has just got out of hospital, having had plates inserted into his arm.
Enough of the crap. Good stuff. The KTM 950 Super Enduro had sat gathering dust for 2 months. I drained a bit from each fuel tap... no water. Good. Cranked her up and she's running sweet. She coughed a few times the first time I rode her, but that's all done now. She's been yodelling in the mountains for the last five days. Two up this time and with an airhead BMW for company. Both of us threw it down the road... or should I say elephant track... no worries apart from me laying there in the mud with my pillion pounding away on my shoulder. Photos later.
So, medical emergencies aside, I'll see how I go getting some more Cambodia photos up. I've posted a few of these on other threads, but bear with me... I'll bring it all together here.
Siem Reap is a bustling town. Its got the high end places (Park Hyatt is opening in 2013 - but there's plenty of others)... right down to the $3 backpacker rooms. I went in for the lower midrange... $18 a night IIRC, including brekkie. There was a pool there, but my swimming trunks didn't make the cull for the smaller bike. Night entertainment ranges from dance restaurants, high end stuff, through local-oriented open air places, live music (mostly the hostesses singing a song and trying to get noticed) through to Pub Street... aimed at the lower end tourists. Here's the first of the Halloween parades
There's a lot of poverty and destruction still in Cambodia. I spoke at length with a Danish shipping guy who has a charitable foundation and he's built a couple of schools there. He was a bit cynical about the situation, but with good cause. An example.. a guy who's name I've forgotten, introduced high yield rice to Vietnam... turned them from an importer of rice to and exporter fairly quickly. Came to Cambodia and gave up after 8 years. The Cambodians introduced the high yield rice, but only planted half as much... why do more work than necessary. Also, lots of stuff being done as concessions for other contracts - build us a school so we look good in our statistics as part of the deal we do with you on xxxx deal... but then it doesn't get used, that sort of thing. He and I shared our views on NGOs and the problems in the sector. Smart guy... (thinks like me). I'll make contact with him again later. We covered off the issue of girls coming into the garments sector and ending up on their backs in nearby whorehouses too. This whole family issue - arranged marriages, bride price stuff creates a lot of downstream issues.
There's lots of professional beggars around the place. Many landmine victims. There's still 30 a month being killed / maimed, down from 300 a month a while back. The UXO / landmine problem is longstanding... back to the American war, the Vietnamese ousting of Pol Pot, troubles with Thailand and so on. I had some good discussions with folks, including victims, about it.... but that's not for here so much as elsewhere.
I posted the one above earlier, but I'll run it again here because I didn't include the context earlier. I really don't like that professional begging stuff.
On a happier note, here's the guys I met two years ago, friends of my tuk tuk driver. We got some takeaway food and Jeat bought a carton of beer and some ice for us and took us to his friend's house. They threw in some fried crickets (taste good, hate the damn wings though) and we had a good chinwag about life in Cambodia.
These are mostly the guys I shouted dinner in Siem Reap in the photo a few posts back. It was lovely to return the favour from two years ago. They've been fast workers. That bamboo hut has been upgraded to house status and the owner, like Jeat, has had two daughters in two years.
Here's a bonus Siem Reap photo from two years ago... the storm that rolled across the lake while we were at the floating village.
I must dig out the rest of that panorama sequence... now that I've learnt how to stitch them together.
Here's some random ones from the temples. I spent a rather wet day riding around some of the ones I'd seen last time. Since I got back to Thailand, I've got some good leads on some really interesting ones to see when I go back to Siem Reap to collect the bike, including some remote stuff. One I really want to get to is a couple of animals carved from stone in the middle of the mountains... a full sized elephant.
My KTM with Jeat's tuk tuk
Seen enough temples?
Meanwhile... look what found me
At a guess, its a 16C (C for Colonial) - derived from the Norton 16H (H for Home) model.
A sidevalve 500cc single. I believe it is a 1939 model - although someone said 1936. Not terribly important in the scheme of things. Its about the same weight as the Super Enduro but with one fifteenth as much power. 14hp. A nice ride half a dozen times a year to local cafe meets.
My father rode this model in Greece / Crete in WW2 - as a Despatch Rider / Provost - but much preferred the Indian Scout. These, along with the BSAs, Harleys and Indians were the bikes used by Commonwealth forces in WW2. Dad was wounded in Greece, left for dead - knocked out with shrapnel in his forehead (not removed until post-war) from a Stuka attack while he was directing traffic. When he came to, the Germans had advanced and he was behind enemy lines. He got back on his bike and rode past a German column, expecting a bullet in the back.... and made it back to the Allied lines. He was captured in Crete though and spent the rest of the war in holiday camps as a guest of Adolf.
I could "throw" this one in the crate with the Super Enduro (no particular customs issues involved... its old enough to not be a worrry for import approvals... just pay the $50 fee).... or, more likely, Neil, Clarissa and I will share a container and ship everything home if he can find another bike to throw in - and I do believe he's onto one.
I sorta like it. Its pretty original, except for the Bing carbie on it... should be an Amal. I doubt that's too much of an issue. It isn't running at present, but has been and wouldn't be hard to get going again. It isn't a project.... I need another project like a hole in the head... it just needs a service and re-location to Oz. I'd run it on historic plates. $28 a year rego IIRC.
It was carried out of Burma about 15 years ago and has no papers for here, hence its cheap. I'd have to export it as parts to get it out, but with import approval there's no issue in Oz.
I've also just grabbed a whole swag of KTM bits off Justin... the guy I bought the 525 EXC from. He had some motard wheels for it... with radial brakes. Big mutha of a disk... 320mm I think with a 4 piston caliper. They'll do the 950 as well... maybe with some playing with spacers, so that when I get everything home, I'll have two canyon racers and two dirt bikes... all achieved by just changing wheels. He finally got everything together and I'm still shaking my head at the fact he had two brand new front sprockets there,
I'm riding a Yamaha Fino around Chiang Mai. Just a getabout 115cc retro styled scooter for around town. - so much easier than the Super Enduro in the traffic. If only I could buy this sort of thing at the price in Oz. When I got home from Vietnam a couple of years ago, I went looking for something like this, but they were all in the $2,000+ range. Here, they are less than a third of that second hand.
It's got 11,000 genuine km on it. Never been dropped... 100mpg, etc Like this... but with road tyres, not knobbies.
I'll write up what's been happening back in Thailand.... later. Toy ride with the 1%ers, photos with the long necked women, etc. Oh yeah... snuck out of Thailand yesterday but they wouldn't let me ride into Burma. Photos later.