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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by BcDano, Jul 19, 2012.
grande la tua avventura!! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
Merry Christmas to you! Still talking about your Dolomites!!!! Hello from Auckland Sara
Arriving to Siem Reap on the main road it was 30 degrees, humid, and there was quite a bit of traffic, but it was moving smoothly. The Cambodians for the most part are courteous drivers. And one on the very small roads it was mostly tuk tuks and bikes.
Our hotel is off the main road and so quieter. We checked in and had some lunch (including banana flower salad) before walking a bit in the heat.
We have planned to meet up with Dave and Kyle who we met in Dushanbe Tajikistan. They were riding from Siem Reap home to the UK for a visit! They live here and have agreed to store our bikes for 2 weeks while we have a holiday in Vietnam.
We grabbed a Tuk Tuk down to where the action is in the “bar” zone and spent a great evening with them at Beatnik Bar conveniently across the road from one of their 3 apparel shops here. This is a very happening town with a great vibe. We met up with some of their friends and both of their girlfriends. Plans were made for our return in 2 week. I can tell we do not have enough time here already!
We had a lazy day for once as the flight was not until 8 pm. and we had Kyle’s usual Tuk tuk guy Nan pick us up at Beatnik and drive us to the airport.
It is just 90 minutes to Ha Noi, but it took almost twice that to get our Visas and get thru immigration. We finally made it to the hotel at almost 1 am and then of course went out for Pho noodle soup!
Our friend Huong has set us a busy program for today including the Van Miou ancient university site, Ha Not Prison museum, Pho lunch, Vietnamese coffee bar, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, and a walk thru the night market.
Today is a tour of the Ho Chi Minh monument (the body has gone to Moscow for its yearly “renovation”, the Ho Chi Minh Vestige in the Presidential Palace grounds, and the Ho Chi Minh Museum.
It is a 4 hour bus ride to the sea and the Ha Long harbor to board our ship for an overnight cruise in Ha Long Bay. After boarding the boat they served lunch as we cruised out amongst the rock formations and islands.
The bus to Ha Noi dropped us on the side of the road an hour from Ha Long where Huong’s nephew picked us up in his 16 passenger van and we had another 2 hours to her “hometown” of Diem Dien.
Here we stayed in her house for 2 night, toured the local markets (this caused quite a stir as they never see foreigners here), visited a clam farm, and of course a Vietnamese nail bar.
Today we learned that the predicted Typhoon has hit the mid coast of the country and flooded Hui and Hoi An. We will now have to change our plans and forfeit one leg of the plane tickets that routed us there. We can salvage one leg and re-book it from Ha Noi to Ho Chi Minh instead.
This still meant a drive back to Hanoi as planned and with a stop at the Trang An Grottoes and the Bai Dinh Pagoda Temple. At the grottoes you board a small row boat and you are rowed thru the caves and in a circuit on the waterways.
Vietnam-53 by Sara & Daniel Pedersen, on Flickr
It is about 30 minutes over to the temple complex, which is said to have a 1000 Buddhas. It was raining on and off this afternoon.
Vietnam-55 by Sara & Daniel Pedersen, on Flickr
Our change of plan sends us on a flight to the island of Phuquoc today. We stayed one night in a hotel in town and near the sea. We visited the “prison” and then spent the day at the beach.
The next day we moved to a 5* resort that had full board for 57 $ Canadian each! We had a 4 bedroom villa!
We flew back to Ho Chi Minh, stayed overnight and then had a 6 hour drive to the Mekong Delta at My Tho.
This included after 2 hours a stop to visit the Cu Chi tunnels.
The delta visit included a boat ride and was very touristic….Noodle making, fruit tasting, honey tasting…
We arrived by 3 pm to the city after a very heavy rain storm to dryer skies and to the same hotel we had stayed at the first time.
The next day we were off to Mui Ne to relax at the beach.We had this cool lie down bus for the 6 hour trip. We took a day tour out to see the dunes that left just after sunrise and visit a fishing village as well. Dan even got in a bit of Kiting.
Vietnam-76 by Sara & Daniel Pedersen, on Flickr
We had a 6 hours lie down bus ride back to Ha Noi and then a taxi to our hotel near the airport. We had been booked by the travel agent in a 3* hotel, but the rooms smelled like dead bodies. The hotel has a 5* next door and the agency moved us there for no extra charge. We did go to the airport 2 hours early to find our 830 flight “cancelled”, but what they really meant was they moved it 30 min. We still just made the boarding time of 815 after standing in the check in for almost an hour, passport control, and security.
It was a turbulent 45 min to Siem reap. We had to get another visa as they only sell single entry and so another 35 $ and 25 min later we had visas. We were in the passport control and then out the door in under 45. We grabbed a tuk tuk and made for our friends shop to check in. We grabbed a quick lunch and then Pou (uncle) Nan their Tuk Tuk guy drove us to their house to pick up the bikes. Both were a little sketch on start up so we will have to see about that, but it may just be they need the valves adjusted (booked in KL). So it was just a 650 m ride on the back roads to our guest house.
It is cloudy and the forecast is for rain. Despite that since we are only here for a few days we elected to get Nan to drive us around the temple complex tomorrow. It was raining lightly at 8 am and and on and off today, but the worst of it was avoided during our 2 pm lunch break.
The first thing you have to do is go to the Angkor Wat ticket office to buy a pass and get your photograph taken. We were not expecting that massive building, parking lot full of buses, and conservatively 40 booths for ticket purchase. We got in line for a one day pass and this includes a photo.
From there we hit the big Wat and then did the loop counter clockwise to try and avoid the masses. Few things on our trip have really wowed us and exceeded our expectations and this certainly did.
Cambodia-4 by Sara & Daniel Pedersen, on Flickr
Cambodia-8 by Sara & Daniel Pedersen, on Flickr
Cambodia-13 by Sara & Daniel Pedersen, on Flickr
Cambodia-15 by Sara & Daniel Pedersen, on Flickr
Better late than never. Here is my Video from Laos!
Today we are planning to do not much besides pick up the suits from the laundry, clean the chains, and repack our panniers after the holiday. The forecast is improved for our trip south with sun and clouds high of 32…feels like 42 with the humidity.
So we need to get into Thailand and it is 597 km to the southern most border we plan to use. For those of you that do not understand the magnitude of this hurdle let us just say it has been stressing us all out for the last 6 months. As of May 1 last year no foreigner can drive their own vehicle in Thailand without a guided tour. These tour cost at least 1000$ even for a transit of a few days. Many of these “tours” have been the guide showing up at the border taking the money and then saying bye bye. It takes 14 days to process an application for a permit. This is managed by the tourism authority and not by border services. This has caused the most problems for people trying to enter from Myanmar and Laos where the tourism agents hang out at the border and ensure the border agents do not let anyone thru. This applies to most of the Cambodian borders as well. The tiny most southern border is the best option as it sees so few tourists. We know 2 Australians that crossed last week and Trevor and Orvar made it 4 days ago. They were initially told that they would need to leave their bikes in no mans land and go to the provincial capital to get permits. After an hour of remaining calm and smiling the border agents decided that they could use their carnet de passage to enter. On the good side the exit from Cambodia was they said the easiest of the trip with 5 min for a passport exit stamp and no stop required for customs. (Remember we did spend 600$ and a day near the border to try to get import TVIP for the bikes, which we needed to get in for sure, but not out).
It is 347 km to Krong Chbar Mon, which is a fairly large town south west of Phnom Penh. We want to avoid the Cambodian capital at all cost. No way we want to be in traffic in this heat and humidity.
There is little traffic once you leave Siem Reap. There are tons of school kids on their bikes.
The road is paved except for the 40 km from Oudongk and Khum Khsem Ksant.
All along the road you see these beautiful lotus flowers blooming. When we stopped to take a photo this lady pick one from her garden and came over to give it to me.
It was very hot and sweaty when we arrived to the town, but the second hotel we checked out was nice, clean, and had great air con for 15$.
We did a walk to the nearby day market and found a shop to get passport photos in case we need them at the Thai border (on line it is confusing about the visa issue and if there is a cost) and they were so cheap at 4/1$.
Then we walked across the bridge to the night market area to get some dinner at a street side stand. The amount of garbage here is totally insane! looking out the back balcony of the hotel there are piles of garbage bags just heaped up below. What are these people thinking!!!
We are so stressed about the crossing to Thailand, since if we do not get in we will have a serious problem. The people of Cambodia are super smiley and friendly, the food here was very good, and again the traffic in the cities only is orderly. There is courtesy and calmness to the driving. Even in congestion with tons of tuk tuks and scooters people are flowing like a school of fish.
It is 253 km (4 hours) to the border and we have changed our plan to try and cross today instead of tomorrow. We usually do not do a border with a long drive on either side, but after they guys only took and hour to get across we will try for it. This also means we will still have the next day (Friday) to try again if we have issues.
The first 95 km on the National Highway 4 was totally straight and there was an amazing amount of traffic for Cambodia. It is partly cloudy and this is a relief as it was already 29 at 745 when we left. When we turned off onto the 48 there was literally no traffic and the road more hilly and curvy thru the jungle. It was also in poor condition in some sections. Finally we crossed the bridge and Thailand was in sight.