We said good bye to Cambodia today as we crossed the border back into Vietnam at Ha Tien. It’s been a hard cycle, despite the flatness of the country, only because it took us a while to adjust to the state of the roads, food availability and travelling more generally when we first arrived here. It was difficult riding and we often found ourselves skipping lunch at the roadside and sticking to bottled or canned sugar drinks to fuel us through the day.
However, I’d not want to have missed coming here. Reading about both Cambodia’s recent and ancient histories made us see the country in a different way and explained much of what we saw on the bicycles. The rural poverty in the east of the country made sense when we understood it’s devastation in the 1970’s from the spread of hostilities between the north and south Vietnamese during the American War into Cambodia and America’s subsequent extensive aerial bombardment in Operation Menu of the country.
We’ve enjoyed the small towns we’ve passed through and stayed in, always finding interesting places and friendly people. The bigger cites of Phnom Penh, Battambang and Siem Reap have delighted us with their architecture, colonial history, and sophistication. We’ll miss Cambodia and our riding stats are as follows:
- Distance ridden – 1,290
- Days riding – 11 (including 6 half days)
- Average daily distance – 117 (flat terrain)
- Longest day – 150km Kampong Thom to Siem Reap
- Punctures – 0
- Mechanicals – None but my bottom bracket and bar tape all need attention
- Other touring cyclists – 04 (2 pairs) heading in the opposite direction and coming from the Thai border
We were amazed at the number of large petrol stations that dotted the rice fields and roadside as we cleared Phnom Penh yesterday.
Today, as we cycled the rural Highway 3 south, 87km from Takeo to Kampot, we decided to count them. This is no. 39 of 59 we passed, averaging around one for every 1.5km travelled.
It is a particularly grand petrol station as someone has decided to erect a statue of a concrete horse, garishly painted, in front of the forecourt.
Dinner in a lobster restaurant constructed on timber stilts with corrugated metal sheeting sitting over the river estuary at Takeo, 80km south of Phnom Penh. It’s rained all day and we looked like we’d ridden off road we were so caked in filth when we arrived here.
The food and tiny town are lovely but more rain is forecast for tomorrow as we head to the coast at Kampot.