Is there a more exotic name for a country than Cambodia? It’s always evoked a feeling of mystery in me. I’ve always wanted to go, but never dreamed I would do it solo-traveling on a bicycle.
Southeast Asia Bicycle Tour – Day 13
Stung Treng, Cambodia to Chhaeb, Cambodia – 53 Miles
The differences between Laos and Cambodia were drastically apparent the moment I crossed the border. Poverty in NorthernCambodia was shocking. The small family farms gave way to industrialized agriculture that stretched to the horizon. Notwithstanding, food was scarce, and I couldn’t help but wonder who owned all the crops.
On this particular day, I passed village after village without electricity. The only thing I found to eat was a packet of ramen noodles that a young woman prepared for me on a campfire next to her bed.
Despite the challenging living conditions, the Cambodian people were warm and welcoming. I had to offer the first smile, but once I did, their faces would light up, and they’d always smile right back.
Today’s road was paved and smooth. The miles flowed under my tires effortlessly. Due to hotel logistics, my only option besides camping was to ride 53-miles. I finished my first full day of cycling in Cambodia in the early afternoon and spent the rest of the day lounging around the small town of Chhaeb.
Southeast Asia Bicycle Tour – Day 14
Chhaeb, Cambodia to Sroyorng Koh, Cambodia– 68 Miles
I woke up, packed the bicycle, found hot water for my coffee and I was on my way. Again, the roads were well maintained. Traffic was minimal, and the sunrise was spectacular.
The farmers were burning the fields, and the air was thick with smoke. It made breathing difficult. It was surreal; it looked like all of Cambodia was on fire.
I finished the quiet and uneventful day in the town of Sroyorng Koh. I was able to find a room for $5 a night. Great price, but the bathroom situation sucked. There were two shared squat toilets and no sink. There was just a cement tub that held about 20 gallons of water built into the side of the wall next to the toilets. The hose used to fill the basin also doubled as a shower.
Of course, the water was freezing, but I was used to it. It had been well over a week since I had a hot shower.
Southeast Asia Bicycle Tour – Day 15
Sroyorng Koh, Cambodia to Siem Reap, Cambodia – 67 Miles
The morning was off to a bad start. While looking for hot water to mix my instant coffee, a pack of dogs surrounded me. It was dark, and they were super aggressive. I fought them off by yelling and violently waving my hands. I’m sure I woke the entire town and looked like an imbecile doing so.
I was soon on my way, and there was another fantastic sunrise as I headed towards Siem Reap. I was eager to reach the gateway city to Angkor Wat. I knew there would be plenty of tourists, but there would also be hot water and good food.
As I got closer to my day’s destination, the empty Cambodian backroads turned into a busy four-lane highway. When I entered Siem Reap, I was a little taken back by the size. It was much bigger than I expected and it was overflowing with tourists. So many that it was difficult to spot any locals. I didn’t mind; I was hungry, and before I would start to search for a hotel, I had to eat.
Later that afternoon I found the most delightful hotel in a small alleyway that was only accessible by foot. It was a couple of blocks from Siem Reap’s famous Pub Street.
I spent the evening exploring the streets, restaurants, and bars. I have to say I love this city. Even though it’s a tourist town, it has such a cool vibe. It’s a very user-friendly Asian city. Every type of food you can imagine is within walking distance. It doesn’t matter if it’s street food you crave or a $50 steak, you’ll find it in Siem Reap.
Bicycle Touring Angkor Wat Temples – Day 16
Surly Ogres at Angkor Wat
It was still dark, but I was racing through the city to make it to Angkor Wat before sunrise. I arrived with only minutes to spare, and it was brilliant. I then spent the rest of the day riding from temple to temple. There were busloads of tourists, but since I was on a bicycle, I easily avoided the crowds. My day in Angkor Wat was hands down the highlight of my time in Cambodia.
I also met a cool dude from Spain also doing a bicycle tour of Angkor Wat. How did I know he was cool? He was riding a Surly Ogre.
Rest Day in Siem Reap, Cambodia – Day 17
My bicycle tattoo from Siem Reap
For the first time since leaving Hanoi, I didn’t ride my bicycle. I ate and walked a marathon’s worth of miles around the city.
I did get a souvenir. I have a habit of getting tattoos when I travel. Especially if I like the place. And I loved Siem Reap, so I got a tattoo of my bicycle. I was pleasantly surprised how nice it turned out, and couldn’t have been more pleased with the tattoo artist.
Knowing I was leaving the next day, I gorged myself on multiple entrees for dinner. The food in Siem Reap is so delicious. It’s a town made for eating.
Southeast Asia Bicycle Tour – Day 18
Siem Reap, Cambodia to Sisophon, Cambodia – 62 Miles
As much as I was enjoying myself, it was time to go. As usual, I left before sunrise and headed West towards the Cambodia and Thailand border.
The road was busy, but there was a wide shoulder. The miles were fast and easy. I was definitely in better shape than when I started my bicycle tour and the rest day in Siem Reap didn’t hurt.
It was my last night in Cambodia, and I had a wonderful evening in the towns park with a group of street food vendors. We drank beer and people watched. And even though we didn’t understand each others language, we managed to have a couple laughs.
Southeast Asia Bicycle Tour – Day 19
Sisophon, Cambodia to Khlong Hat, Thailand – 63 Miles
I had heard from other travelers to expect a long line at the border so I arrived early thinking I would beat the crowds. That didn’t work. The first line to check out of Cambodia wasn’t that bad. It took about thirty minutes. However, clearing into Thailand was a pain in the ass. The line wasn’t too long, but it moved painfully slow taking over three hours.
Once I got into Thailand, I had a decision to make. Should I head straight to Bangkok and finish my bicycle tour in a few days? Or, should I turn South towards the coast and add a few days to my trip? I chose the later. I was desperate for a swim.
I found a route towards Bangkok that took off me of the main highway. I was feeling horrible, but the backroads offered some of the best touring of my trip. The scenery was spectacular. There were dirt roads that meandered through lush green rice patties and limestone towers. The route was peaceful and empty except for the occasional village.
Because it’s the main artery connecting North and South Vietnam, Highway 1 isn’t the best road for bicycle touring. It’s busy and loud. There’s a constant barrage of honking horns, and the air is thick with the smell of diesel fuel. The only thing it had going for it was endless packs of other bikes in which I could seek shelter. Like a shy fish, I’d settle into the center of the school. The plan was to follow the highway South to Vinh, then turn West towards Laos.
First, let’s get past the question of whether or not I am super fit. Like everyone else, I have good days and bad days, but for the most part, I exercise regularly, I maintain a healthy diet, and I feel great. So, for the sake of this article, let’s all agree that I am super fit.
https://agehigh.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Fitness-Fifty.jpg5401420Bufferhttps://agehigh.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/AgeHIGH-Sidebar-300x138.pngBuffer2019-07-07 15:37:262020-01-01 14:32:32Why I'm Super Fit at 50 and You're Not