'4000 islands' to Bangkok

Across the border and into Cambodia again. Had a bit of a dispute with the cambodian border guards about the extra fees they were asking for. I refused to pay anything extra for them. We finally stood there looking angrily at each other, then they gave in and let us through anyways. 

Happy with the outcome we went south on cambodias highway 7. A french couple we first met in Pakse and then on Don Det came up behind us on their bikes. They had paid all the extra fees asked for on both sides. We stopped to have a drink with them, then continued again. An hour later we discovered a flat tire on the trailer. Stopped in the shadow to fix it and discovered how both tires were in a really bad condition.

 

Changed the tube and made some bandage with tape for the remaining 28 km to Stung Treng. Ten minutes down the road I spotted an old wrecked bicycle lying by the roadside. Stopped and asked the owner if I could buy the tires. He agreed and I put those second hand tires on the trailer wheels and then we continued to Stung Treng without any further mishaps.

 

Before Stung Treng we met a dutch couple on their bikes and rode with them the last kilometres into town and had 83km on the odometer when we stopped. We found two new tires and put them on the trailer wheels. Stocked up plenty on water for the marathon journey following day. It is 146km to Kratie from Stung Treng and there are no hotels or guesthouses in between. This was the main reason why we previously planned to go through Thailand instead. So now - this is it - are we going to make it? Will Pim and Nina put up with such a long day on the road?   

It was completely dark at 4.15am when we left the hotel and got up on highway 7 again. No other traffic, just silence all around. Later in the morning a beautiful sunrise greeted us to this day. Pim was sleeping in his trailer and Nina on her seat, with some extra clothes to stay warm. At 37,5km, when we had done 25% of the journey, we stopped for breakfast at a cafe.

 

A couple of times we stopped when Pim felt like stretching his legs. At 5km short of halfway we stopped for lunch. It was a nice day for riding bicycle. Continued after lunch and took a photo of the road in a bend at halfway to Kratie. Time was exactly 12noon and we started to feel optimistic about making it the whole way.

 

We sometimes met these overloaded motorcycles, some with trailers and some without. Impressive that they manage to drive with them, especially when it is windy like it was this day.

 

We were lucky to have a sidewind. After lunch the road deterioreted and became gravel and dusty at times. Luckily we could cross over to ride on the left hand side to let the dust from passing vehicles blow away to the right. We managed to get through without getting covered in dust a single time. Later on when the road was sealed, it was still not possible for us to use the shoulder at times, as the locals used of for drying kassava. 

 

At 100km we stopped for an afternoon rest and then continued when Pim and Nina were ready for it. Sunset fell just as we entered Kratie, Pim started making strange noises in the trailer, and we navigated our way to a guesthouse by the riverside on dark streets. Reached our destination at 6.15pm after 146km in one long day. We made it! All of us. Lucy and me have the nicest, toughest, and most accepting children imaginable.

 

Following day we just stayed around the hotel. Pim and Nina were playing and we ate a lot of food. Arranged a bigger and better room for the second night and slept well again. Nina borrowed a small bicycle and went around and around in a never ending loop in the hotel lobby. 

 

Pim had fun hiding in the wardrobe. We watched TV and relaxed. Then it was time to start on the three day journey to Kampong Cham. The shortcut via Chlong was still not properly sealed so we went the 86km to Snoul and stayed overnight. Somewhere along the way we stopped at a cafe where Nina found a small kitten to play with for a while.  

         

Saw many overloaded vans along the way. Took a photo of one that was even more overloaded than the others. He had five motorcycles hanging out in the back, as opposed to the normal three or four. 

 

We continued following day the 79km to Phumi Kraek, where we stayed overnight at the same guesthouse as we did some two months ago, the night before crossing into Vietnam. The girl Nina played with at that time was there again. They had fun together the whole evening. Playing with toys, riding bicycles, and watching movies. We continued next day and found a modern petrol station with aircondition and a freezer with icecream. Yam! 

 

Some 62km from Kraek we arrived at the same hotel in Kampong Cham by the Mekong river as we stayed at last time. This piece of road we went in the opposite direction before. On top of the bridge across the Mekong we met a couple of french guys riding in the opposite direction. They often stayed in their tent at night and planned to follow the riverside on village roads all the way op to Stung Treng. 

      

We checked in to the same big nice room as last time with great views of the Mekong river. We met an aussie couple and a german couple riding bicycles too. Had dinner together with them in the evening and exchanged experiences. Following day was New Years Eve and we celebrated by taking a hot bath, eating ice cream in the hotel room and eating a nice big dinner at the nearby restaurant by the riverside. 

 

I discoved that my rear tire had seen better days and managed to find a new tire. Swopped tire from front to back and put the new tire in the front. Hopefully it will take us from here to Bangkok. 1st of January we went back some 17km on highway 7 and then turned south towards Prey Veng. It was a nice day for bike riding and not much traffic on the road. Agricultural land all around.

         

Used the opportunity to take some photos of Nina and me riding with Pim in the trailer, although he cannot be seen. We stayed overnight at a guesthouse in Prey Vang at 84km and found a nice little restaurant for dinner. 

 

We reached the Mekong again and took the ferry across. Got out on Highway 1 and enjoyed riding the sealed shoulders towards Phnom Penh. We reached the 'Elephant blanc resort' at the outskirts of Phnom Penh after another 84km of effortless riding. 

 

Lucy is in a really good shape now and can do long distances without taking a break. Her bike is working well for the riding we do. She is completely satisfied with it. We checked in at the resort and had a great view from our room overlooking the pool area.

         

Had a rest day and went for a swim in the pool. I had a fever and headache and slept most of the day. Next day we went by taxi into a shopping centre in Phnom Penh to stock up on babyfood and other items. Nina and Pim enjoyed the indoor playground with plenty of toys. We went back with a tuktuk in the afternoon and had another swim in the pool. 

 

Next day we left the resort and continued towards Takeo. We bypassed Phnom Pehn at the outskirts by going first on Highway 1 and then south on Highway 2. Traffic was intence around Phnom Penh but changed for the better the further south we went. Took some photos of fully loaded vehicles we met along the way. I did not know a motorcycle could pull that much. Who needs a Scania truck when a minibus and a motorcycle can do the same job?

 

We crossed the newly renovated railway line. The new track is already being used by freight trains. Passenger service will commence during 2013 if all goes according to plan. Highway 2 was in a good condition all the way down to Takeo, where we stayed overninght at 79km.

 

At the guesthouse we met a british couple also riding bicycles, but with a support vehicle and a guide. They were going first to Kep, by the sea, and then to Kampot. Our plan was to go straight to Kampot and stay two days. In the morning after breakfast we however changed our plan to also go first to Kep. It looked to be about the same distance on the map. It was however 25km longer. We continued on Highway 2 an hour or so and then turned right onto a smaller road. When we finally arrived in Kep it was already dark. Checked into a big room with three beds in the centre of Kep, close to the beach and had a really nice dinner at the neighbouring restaurant. The odometer showed 106km. Had a rest day and went swimming with Nina. Met the aussie couple from Stung Treng and the french couple from Pakse. It seems everyone is riding to Kep. We also had a chat several times with a south African couple and a british guy riding bicycles towards Vietnam.

 

Then we continued the short 25km to Kampot. We had to ride slowly and carefully all the way because of bad road conditions. Had pizza dinner by the river in the evening and slept in the most comfortable beds on our journey. Stopped to take a photo of the "salt making" statue in the roundabout and at a really big nice tree full of flowers. The fishermen came back from the sea when we crossed the river on an old bridge and made our way west.

 

Went half day on highway 3 until the intersection towards Sihanoukville, where we turned right instead and continued on highway 4. Nice and cloudy day. Suddenly the rain came with nowhere to hide. For the first time on our journey we got completely soaked by the rain. Stood hiding under some palmtrees for a while but it was too late, we were already wet. Then the sun came again and dried us up in an hour.

 

Later in the day we turned left onto the smaller route 48, which took us to Sre Ambel where we stayed overnight in a simple guesthouse. It was a 113km ride. Next day was going to be short so we took our time in the morning and stopped for a long relaxing breakfast at a roadside restaurant.

 

Crossed a couple of rivers and enjoyed the tranquil route 48. Not much traffic and nice surroundings. Arrived early afternoon at a restaurant where we ordered fresh fish from the river, while Nina and Pim was playing with the small dogs they had.

 

Checked in to one of their rooms in a simple but newly built house, close to the restaurant. Nina and me went up on the roof and layed in the hammocks, looking at a wonderful sunset. We made 39km that day and prepared ourselves for the following day.

 

Got up early in the morning and started riding 15 minutes before sunrise, with all our lights illuminated. We crossed a river and then went up a hill and another hill. Nina and Pim continued their sleep on the seat and trailer. After a while there was a traffic sign warning for crossing elephants. We did not see any. It was a long distance until we finally reached a roadside cafe where we stopped for breakfast.

 

We continued up another hill and yet another. It was continouosly a short downhill followed by a long uphill. We kept riding up and up the whole morning and best part of the afternoon. After 75km it was still going up. No villages or cafes anywhere in sight. We eventually reached the summit and stopped for drinks and a rest. Really tough riding today. From the summit it was an easy glide down to Koh Kong. We arrived 15 minutes after sunset and checked in to the best hotel in town in their best and biggest VIP room. At 110km, this was the toughest bike ride we have done on this journey.

 

There were several good restaurants nearby so we ate and ate, and enjoyed our big room the whole weekend. First day we did not do anything more than relax. Second day we went a short ride to a resort, to use their swimmingpool. It was however not working, so we went back again and had some nice icecream and cake instead.

 

The third day we went riding to Koh Kong Safari World. It was big and nice, and with almost no other visitors than us. We saw an orangutang show and a crocodile show. Then went around a looked at kangaroo, tiger, deer, peacock and other birds.

 

Then we had a look at the crocodiles, ostrich, parrots, and other animals. Finished by looking at a tiger show, where the big cats were jumping through rings. The whole setup was better than expected. Satisfied with the experience we went back to Koh Kong and prepared for leaving the following day. It was 26km return to the animals.

 

Got a late start and went the short ride to the border. It took us a while to fill in all the forms and get all stamps. We continued another short ride and stopped at 39km to stay overnight in a nice bungalow type of accommodation. Following day we continued to Trat. We passed Thailands narrowest place enroute and then an aussie couple joined us on their bicycles for a while. Stayed two nights in Trat and enjoyed a nearby restaurant for breakfast and dinner. Had a long chat with the aussie couple. They where also heading towards Bangkok. The roads after Trat were a different story than anything we have experienced before. 

 

We continued west and stayed on the shoulder while heavy traffic passed us all the time. Stayed overnight at xxxx at 56 km and then continued another 65 km to Klaeng. Checked in to the biggest VIP room imaginable. Luxury. Following day was Nina's birthday, she turned 4. We ordered big breakfast from room service, to eat in the room and Nina got a birthday present.

 

In the evening we arranged a birthday cake for Nina and sang a birthday song for her. Pim really enjoyed to practice standing up on his own and walking with support. It was a nice relaxing day for all of us in Klaeng, we stayed in the room most of the time.

 

Following day we checked out at noon and went towards the coast. So many hotels and european tourists on wintervacation along the beach. Locals seling swimequipment to the tourists. There was a truck that was hard to miss. Impressive!

 

We checked in at a hotel and stayed a couple of days. I went swimming with Nina on the beach and she played in the sand. We also went several times to swim in the hotel pool. Found a restaurant with good food and started to prepare for the end of the trip. Threw away some old clothes and other things we would not need anymore.

 

We continued west on the highway shoulder to Sattahip and stayed overnight. Stopped at some cafes along the way. At one place there was a cat that Pim got interested in. The bike riding was uneventful and we felt good about our chioce to go through Cambodia previously instead of Thailand. Too much traffic on these roads.

 

Arrived Sattahip in the evening and found a good place to stay and a decent restaurant nearby. With wifi in the room we made arrangements for the following day. After three months and three weeks bike riding we have become colorful. Lucy on her feet and me on the arms.

 

Next day we went the short ride to Pattaya with even more intense traffic passing by. Found a shopping centre were Nina could play for a while. I went to locate the railway station, then took the bikes and trailer for washing. The bikes were completely clean as we boarded the train in the afternoon.

 

Spent the aftornoon on the train from Pattaya to Bangkok. It was a nice relaxing journey and we all enjoyed it. Our trip was about to come to an end. Looking out the window, feeling satisfied that everything went fine and that we had a really good time thoughout the whole trip. Goodbye Thailand and SE Asia, thanks for this time.

 

We got off at the same railway station were we got on some 115 days before. Rode the 15 km back to Mama&Visit's place were we stayed overnight. Packed all luggage into boxes and prepared the bikes for the flight. They gave us a ride to the airport and off we went. Below is a map showing our journey through Cambodia and Thailand. It was 1550 km on the bikes.

 

 The full journey in southeast Asia from October 2012 to January 2013 is outlined on the map below. Altogether we did 4340km in 118 days through Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos. We had a great time!

 

Red = by bicycle

 Black = by train

Blue = by boat