Cambodia Trip 16th February to 5th March 2008

Cambodia Trip 16th February to 5th March 2008

16th Feb 2008 – 6th Mar 2008

16th Feb 2008 – 6th Mar 2008
The Cambodia Trip

Saturday Feb 16th

In the planning of this trip we had decided to make the journey to Heathrow on the morning of the flight. We would need to be there by 9am which would mean getting up at 4am (according to Clive). We intended to go to the airport on our bikes! Free parking for 2 and half weeks. In the event the forecast dictated . Freezing cold temperatures for our morning trip (-4/5c) changed our minds and we set off this late afternoon to reach a hotel near Heathrow. Yes, eating into the car park savings , so you may question ‘why? on the motorbikes in freezing cold weather! I guess it is the adventure/challenge bit…what else? We do have a car but choose to die of cold instead.

We set off at 5pm. Clive on his old Goldwing. It had had a puncture a few days back which Clive fixed. He is good at plugging punctures . It is barely above freezing but dry and a lovely clear dusk. I am dressed in several layers…6…which includes a heated waistcoat and my summer motorcycle jkt (for Cambodia). I have heated handlebar grips. Clive does not have any heating. He has balaclavas and 3 pairs of gloves on.

All goes well until halfway when Clive starts going rather slowly. I wonder why until I realise he is weaving around a bit and has a soft tyre. We manage to get to South Mimms services. The plug has come out of his tyre. Amazingly we have brought puncture repair stuff with us. In freezing temps we replug the tyre. Air pump at garage difficult to operate but in the end it inflates. We succeed and on we go to a Comfort Hotel near Heathrow. Just manage to be in time to eat. Nice start!

Sunday 17th feb

Well, we went out to the bikes expecting Clive’s tyre to be flat…but it was okay. However the temp gauge on my bike was registering -6c or so. The bikes were covered in frost. Beautiful day and only 2 or 3 miles to go. Mine started  but Clive’s gave us some anxious 5 mins before he finally brought it to life. This bike of Clive’s is 24 plus years old and bought on Ebay in November.

Found motorcycle parking eventually (1a shortstay) and quickly sorted ourselves out. Terminal 3 here we come.

 Monday 18th feb

The 2 flights (London -Kuala Lumpur,Kuala Lumpur-Phnom Penh) went according to plan and we found ourselves 7 hours ahead of GMT in a warm and busy Phnom Penh. Feeling rather fazed we checked into the Billabong hotel and slept!

In the evening we went and had a drink over looking the river Sap at the Foreign Correspondents Club, (FCC), a lovely old colonial building still exuding that expat feeling. (Clive felt at home!)

We met one of our 3 fellow bike tour people, Peter. He is also staying at the Hotel Billabong.

As soon as you step out of the hotel you are offered a tuk tuk ride or a pillion on a moped! Having watched the traffic from our taxi to the hotel we have decided that we would prefer life in our own hands on 2 wheels and will decline pillion rides on mopeds

Tuesday 19th feb

Wake at 7am to the sounds of building on the building site next door. Hand made concrete being poured down hand made shuttering. The whole new building being held up with wobbly looking wooden scaffolding.We head for the central market on foot. Clive buys fruit and a pair of shorts. The market is remarkably clean and tidy. Virtually all the stalls are run by women. The whole market is housed in an enormous domed building.

Back to hotel for breakfast  then off to internet and then into a tuk tuk for some sightseeing. We saw the genocide museum  the kings palace and the silver pagoda. That was enough so back to hotel in our faithful tuk tuk. For his services it was 6 dollars.

Out in evening to meet the gang. Us two and three more men. Peter we have met and so we met John and Ori; Tour leaders Sonia(half Polish/half Iranian) and her Cambodian partner Paeng. All is set for tomorrow with a 7am start.

Traffic in P P flows inspite of masses of mopeds. They have a special way of turning left which slightly blows your mind. No use of mirrors, you must just concentrate on things in front. To turn left you  drift gently to the middle of the road and then, when you can before the junction, you cross the oncoming traffic in your road and drive on the far edge against the traffic. As you reach the corner you go round still on the wrong side of the road. Then when there is a chance you head for the correct side of the road. Manoeuvre complete.! Using this method you should be able to keep moving all the time! If you stay alive.

Wed 20th feb

Picked up at 7am and off to bikes. I have a 230cc honda which is supposedly lower. Bit tall nevertheless but so light compared with my own. Off we go doing those special left turns! Get out of town  and head for Kompong Cham.. Soon we are on dirt.

Clive and I think speed is too fast through villages. Macho boys are going very fast. My bike is little and is doing a good job but the road is rough and my seat and springs seem very hard. In fact, by the end of the day we are all suffering from sore bums. We should be standing up but its too fast and too long.

The country unfolds. Lots of the same as we follow the Mekong river all day. Villages are made up of wooden houses all up on stilts. Animals under in the shade and hammocks . Houses clean looking, orderly.large leggy cows/oxen seem to do the field work. Saw a one furrow wooden plough going off to work behind 2 oxen. People on mopeds,bicycles and in small pony carts. As we left P P we started to see these small ponies..Hardly bigger than a donkey. Smart harnesses with a tassel thing as decoration. Bicycles being used to carry all sorts.

Plenty of temples along the way. We stop at one. It is a collection of funny buildings, shrines, sacred trees etc. Every now and then would be a terrific loud loudspeaker system blaring out distorted noise from one of these temple/monastery places. Very disconcerting and glad I had my helmet on.

We caught a wooden ferry across the Mekong at one point. Road dirt of varying types..mostly clay that was mercifully dry. Hazards were children (seemed to be under control) dogs, chickens and sand.

Finally stopped in Kratie. New hotel, rooms only. We ate very well for $6 each down the road. Sonia very helpful when choosing food. She doesn’t always come on their tours but it is nice she has as she is a mine of info about Cambodia.

Thurs 21st feb.

Up and ready by 7am in our dusty clothes.  Off finally at 8.15am. First 3 hours are tarmac. Fascinating life going on beside the road in their linear settlements. On one side is the Mekong and fish and on the other fertile farmland. Some houses are on very tall legs, poss 12/15ft above the ground. Generally a plank to the road which is raised above the surrounding land. Later we saw houses with ladder like steps. It certainly stops the very young from running out of the front door.! Some houses have enormous pots near them/under them.for holding water Chickens and animals scratch around.

We leave the Mekong and head north and east to Rattanakiri. We do 140 kms on dirt road. Its been graded so its not bad.

See a crashed lorry or two (one a recent/today happening). I ran out of petrol and waiting by the bike for back up got covered in dust by passing vehicles. Did hear some lovely sounding bird song though. The wood beside me had been burnt. We saw a lot of ‘slash and burn’ today. Very depressing to think that people are still following that life style. Other wooded areas had had fires, intentional or not.

Clive had not noticed I was not behind him…this is because we do not have mirrors and it is not possible to watch the road and turn your head right round. We do not know what is going on behind us.

This afternoon stretch of road was quite straight through forested countryside. The one thing that kept us on our toes were the bridges over little dykes etc. Denoted by a couple of posts and a slight narrowing of the road; you could worry if you could not see any planks. This meant there was a big hole or planks were missing. Could be tricky! We all had our moments.!

End up just north of Ban Lung in an hotel run by a Swede. Been open 3 months.

I take a walk to a well known crater lake that was formed over 700,000 years ago, Yeak Laom. John ,one of our group ,swims in it. Not sure I fancied it…looked very murky. Sonia said it was 50m deep.

Friday 22nd feb.

Today Ori and John go off with the Swede who it turns out is a trails bike man. We brits..Clive, Peter and I, go with Paeng and Sonia to see a hill tribe village. Nice trail for 35k through the jungle till we reach a riverside village. Then the fun starts. ‘Our’ village is on the other side so its down steps to the river and into one of those very narrow dug out type boats. With crash helmet in hand and rucksack with all my worldly/camera etc goods in it I climb into, and sit on bum, in this boat with two slightly panicky big men! Clive and Peter are not happy! Peter cannot swim and was now in imminent danger of capsize. Clive was worried about his camera in the rucksack. Off we go ,wobbly. Two guys paddling. River water is warm and it seems quite shallow. No crocs! We all made it including cameras/mobiles etc.

See village..all very school and speaking strange language. They have many tourists coming because they have an interesting burial site which we go and see. Boat trip back across is less tense. The two heavy weights go together and I go with the other two in the second trip. Also this time the boat has slightly higher gunwales and is powered by engine. Nevertheless it is pretty wobbly.

Back on bikes and off to a busy place down river to have lunch. Watch pigs snuffling round in the rubbish and the very basic ferry, only a little wider than our boat, take mopeds across the river.Then it was back to Bang Lung and off the other side to a waterfall where we had a swim under the fall. Very refreshing. Sadly Peter had taken a tumble on the way and he went back to the hotel.

The dirt roads are mostly in good condition . Very busy with moped traffic and few cars and small trucks. We do keep seeing more intrepid europeans. Quite a lot are french . One british girl I spoke to yesterday had come on the bus. She said it was a most uncomfortable journey.

Country is surprisingly free of flies or any annoying insects. Hear pretty sounding bird song and gibbon but see very little. We now have red/yellow dust ingrained in our clothing and belongings! Second night here near Bang Lung.

Sat 23 rd feb.

Amazingly I write this from a small place called Chheb ? We were destined to sleep on a mat on bare boards but Clive and I have been lucky and we have a bed, albeit very hard. Underneath the generator is noisily generating electricity. Next door endless children are watching a telly powered by this generator whilst the light bulbs are powered by car batteries. The whole village is much like this though some do not have generators…just some car batteries. Pigs and dogs and chickens roam the streets of sand and rubbish. Mopeds, even here, whizz around. We are in bed and its only 8.30pm. Our evening meal with beer, coca cola etc and breakfast cost $8 each.(£4)

We began the day doing an easy dirt road back to Stung Treng where we caught a ferry across the river Mekong.   Whilst waiting on the pier for the right boat we watched pigs being manhandled with tied feet strung on a pole. First off a boat and then either 2 on a moped with 2 people or into a trailer pulled by an ancient moped. The pigs were first weighed and the heaviest was about 150 kgs. The trailer took 7 pigs so the moped hauled at least 700kgs! It was fascinating. Our boat arrived and 7 bikes were manhandled on board and down. It was a wooden boat and not very wide…wide enough to take 2 bikes side by side.

 Thus we reached the other side. 90 kms of forest track to be done. Up and down, in and out, sand, some not very nice gravel,and dried up river creeks.  Constantly changing surface. We could only snatch a glance at the countryside because eyes were glued to the road. It was a depressing sight of burn and slash, mile after mile were smouldering trees and smoking land. Villages very very basic but people waving and smiling. We really felt far away from anywhere..really really countryside. Very remote.

The track was exhausting. Concentrating hard and having to push along though we were in time ie enough daylight. The sandy parts were a little fraught but these little bikes far easier than our own. My wrists got tired. Peter got tired all over but Clive was okay. Ori and John went much faster and were far more skillful. We three felt pleased that we had not fallen.

Sun 24th feb

Barking dogs, snores, and of course the roosters woke us in the morning. Luckily dawn did not come too early and we did manage to sleep a bit.

Breakfast consisted of omelette or chicken noodle soup. In the soup were unlaid chicken eggs ie they look like a string of yolks getting smaller in size. It was good.!Various amounts of sleep had been had by our group !

Off we went. 65 kms to do through the forest. Started sandy…not good. I am not good in sand but at least no panic and mostly relaxed. Peter must have been tense. He sweated buckets and got quite exhausted so after lunch he continued the journey in the van.. The trail was quite fun but constant pressure to keep going. I enjoyed it but it was very challenging, constantly changing from sand to rocks tree roots and sometimes even up to a wall in the track maybe a foot high. We then met a river crossing where I chickened out and got Peng the lead rider to take my bike across, my argument being that I did have all our cameras and the ipaq and my mobile in my rucksack…not worth a dip. Clive did not carry a rucksack  but depended on my dependability!

Eyes were 99.9% on the track but if you got a snatch it was always burning forest. Slash and burn. Shocking. Villages friendly.children waving .

Got to Tbaeng Meanchey .Peter knackered. So he rode another 30kms to meet pick up and took a ride.on the pick up for the remaining 120 KMs to Prasat Preah Vihaear,. Ori  and John went to the Prasat Kaoh Ker Temple whilst Clive and I opted for the straight route direct to Prasat Preah Vihear. Despite our ‘short cut’ we arrived about 5pm worn out and ready for a shower, this consisted of a large drum of water and a small bucket.!!  Still it was very welcome. The evening was spent recovering and to bed by 9pm as lights out at 10pm ….  when the generator is switched off.! 

 Mon 25th feb

Up early 6.30am and off to temple. ‘its a steep concrete road’ says Sonia. Got to the concrete and then broken road with rocks as we climb up a very steep road to the summit. This is described thus in Lonely Planet, quote” Once at the summit of the mountain, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you have undertaken a modern-day pilgrimage that is almost the equal of any undertaken at the height of the Angkorian empire”” so we felt suitably satisfied. We made it and the temple was a complex of 4 buildings right on the Thai border.

Back down safely and then off to Siem Reap, or Angkhor Wat the main destination of our trip..

Road is dirt but very good to the lunch stop at Anlong Veaeng. We don’t like going faster than 70kms on the loose gravel, but John and Ori do. We can look a little at the country at our speed, the houses, the trees etc. So many fallen trees. Mostly set fire to till they fall. Seemingly unused. We have sat and eaten at magnificent table tops. Incredible bits of solid wood. Hardwood is used extensively for floorboards, steps and their wooden houses.  No pine here!.

 There are houses scatted everywhere but the verge is not busy as in Africa; this must be because of the dust from traffic. Animals do not want the dust…apart from dogs. They seem quite street wise but you never know. As we head south we see more cars. For the last 2 days we have hardly seen a car. Very few lorries too; just loads of mopeds ;some laden heavily, wobbling along. Most are in good order whereas some of the trucks are not.

Its a long day..we do 260kms. Much of the road this afternoon was under constuction which made the riding unpleasant and dangerous as each time a truck or 4 X 4 went past us it left a huge cloud of dust through which we couldn’t see for almost 5 seconds,  during which time of course the surface may have changed or hidden another vehicle which was trying to overtake.!. …

Anyway we did  stop occasionally …a filthy dusty bunch of riders, to wash down the sand and re-hydrate. We had a selection off roadside specialities  such as pineapple shake, soybean juice, fresh sugar cane juice (squeezed as we wait) lychee juice and a general fresh fruit smoothie . We saw ice put through some ancient grinder to make the ice for a shake.

Mopeds can be ridden by anyone of any age. We watched various small children riding around. You do not need a license and often the moped has no number plate. Every household has one (at least one). Very few households have a car. There is a limited public transport system and we haven’t seen a car taxi ( just tuk tuks ). Cars also are driven around without number plates! There is no insurance.

We eventually reach Siem Reap, the place Clive and I tried to reach in 2002 on our RTW trip. It is a big place, much busier than we had expected catering for all the tourists who come to see Angkor Wat. ( 2 million in 2007 )..

Tues 26th feb

We have a vehicle, driver and guide to take us round the temples. Its cloudy and soon rains. This is the very beginning of the rainy season. We begin with Angkor Tom which means big city. Within that moated 9 sq kms lies several temples. We saw the Bayon temple and various other bits including pools to clean yourself in. Then off to the ‘tomb raiders’ temple, Ta Prohm. This was where they filmed the film.  The Spung tree has fantastic roots which has wreaked much damage to this temple. The tourists like photographing the roots so this particular temple will never be restored perhaps.

Lunch in a roadside cafe and then Angkor Wat. Wat is pergoda. However it seems that both pergoda and temple can act as mausoleum. AW is enormous and in  good shape. Restoration is on going. It was well worth seeing, very impressive, the largest religious structure in the world.

This was followed by a night on the town, in an excellent Mexican restaurant serving great Tocas and Margueritas.!

Wed 27th feb

Up at 5.30am to catch ferry on the Lake Tonle Sap to take us to Phnom Penh. We have not ridden the bikes because it is all tarmac, which would mean thrashing the 250cc engines and it would also wear out their knobbly tyres very fast. It would also be tedious as 50mph is about the speed you would have to travel at.

Ferry bus arrives late and then does magical mystery tour around town getting more and more full of us tourists. Clive getting impatient after 45 minutes collecting odd bods, until eventually we  belt along to the port beside a filthy creek along which people are living. Some of the filthiest houses and living condiitions we have seen. Boat is waiting for us. Passengers are perched on the roof which is where we late ones scramble to. We are slightly aghast as this fast boat seems in danger  of capsize with its top heavy cargo. It is like an Amsterdam canal boat though even longer and narrower. The roof   is barely 6ft across and the whole boat including deck about 12ft. It must have been between 80 to 90 ft long, but the engine perhaps came out of an MTB! (motor torpedo boat ).

Off down a muddy channel to the lake. End of dry season, the water is shallow. We lurch round the bends, grounding briefly on a couple of occasions. Seems pleasant on deck though bum sitting on painted metal! Once into the lake the throttles were opened and it was all change as we got lightly sprayed and gradually got wetter and wetter. To get off the roof at this high speed you slid down to the decking hanging on to a roof rail and gingerly proceeded along the deck hand over hand. There was no guard rail between you and the lake. If you dropped something it was lost! Fortunately the water was calm so on the whole the boat just skimmed along, making a noise like an F16. However there was a below decks and there I found a seat. I suppose the boat was much the same shape as an aeroplane with 4 seats across. It was rather like being on a canal boat but going at waterskiing speed. We reached the end of the lake after about 3 hours and slowed slightly so  the spray was less.  I went outside again and joined Clive at the back, he had found a small plastic seat and was thus sitting in regal splendour with his feet on a suitcase and his motorcycle earplugs moderating the noise. We now had more to look at as we headed down river. All sorts happening but all based on river life and fishing.

The boat ride took 6.5 hours and took us right to the centre of Phnom Penh.The journey by road would have been 320 KMs and been a hard days ride, so we agreed this had been the best way to travel back.  Sonia met us and it was time to relax have lunch and shop..

Thurs 28th feb

We leave Phnom Penh and head south for the coast. Peng asks if we would like to do a shortcut with sand. ‘Sand but no trees’ he says! Peter opts out but we opt in. So glad I did. Must have been in a positive mood! Anyway, approached first bit of sand and decided to stand on the pegs (stand up) and go for it. I made a break through ! I did so much better. It is all in the head of course…just need confidence to accelerate in sand! And confidence to stand which means its further to fall….

We then joined the others on the normal dirt road and we all made our way to Kampong.

This area, Kampot, is famous for pepper vines. Haven’t seen any yet but hope to in the next couple of days. Black pepper is pepper grown just to maturity and then dried in the sun. Pepper grows on vines and the vines can grow for 30 years.

We are out of wooded countryside now so we saw plenty of oxen pulling carts; and out in the fields. Plenty of wandering cows too….and a pig chasing a dog.! It is the end of the dry season so I think the farmers are getting ready to sow their rice when the rains come. We have seen rice growing elsewhere where it seemed they had more water. Today we sampled palm juice (pleasant), sugarcane juice (Clive loves it and I find it a bit sickly…too sweet), dragon fruit and looked at Durian fruit (very smelly says Clive).

We were meant to go to Bokor where some rich french built some beautiful buildings back in the 1920’s up on a hilltop with lovely views but the road was undergoing extensive repairs and was shut.

We are spending the night in Kep on the coast. The hotel is owned by a Cambodian who used to live in Canada. Seems he knows how to make money! We ate in a restaurant built on stilts hanging over the seawater. This place is renowned for its crabs , so Sonia ordered 3 kilos of Crabs for 9 of us. To our amazement a girl waded into the water in her clothes and with a torch(it was dark) to fetch the crabpot which held the live crabs. She waded in to chest height! The crabs looked small..they were rock crabs, but they were excellent. The whole meal ,which also included prawns and fish and beer, cost $9 each.

Fri 29th feb

Leap year day!

Some hanging around before we get aboard the pick up and head off to the ferry to go over to Tonsay (rabbit) island. The ‘ferry’ is a wooden boat.There seem to be a number of ‘ferry’ boats owned by different families.

Tonsay is an undeveloped tropical island. About five families live here along this beach we’ve landed on. Few more on the other side’s beaches. Coconuts, wandering cows, dogs,goats chickens etc. Watch small man climb up and get coconuts down from the tree top. Water comes from a spring. The centre of the island is a jungle clad hill/mountain. Electric from a generator. No sink in the kitchen, no fridge but a delicious seafood lunch is prepared.

Fridges are a commodity unknown to many Cambodians. Instead, someone in the village  will be able..(has electricity) make ice in blocks. These are then delivered by moped to customers with cool boxes. Huge square blocks of ice are put in the large cool boxes and then cans of drink or bottles of water put around. That hopefully will last the day. Our pick up truck/back up vehicle has been carrying such a box around for our drinks.

Talking about mopeds…the loads they carry defies the imagination. We have seen every conceivable load. Building materials…long steel bits, masses of veg bags , chickens, 4 to a bike, ice squares, water barrels, trailers with long bits loaded, pigs (at last 2), wood for the fire, large water jars. The list goes on. If its something moving down the road its probably powered by a moped even if you can only see the load. In the district before Kamplong we saw taxi mopeds with special trailers that took at least 20 people! Some load.

In the late afternoon I set off to walk round the island. I had an hour and a bit before sunset. Sonia said it would be 3 hours walk. As I headed off the end of the beach a dog rushed up, wagging his tail , eager to be with me , apparently . He was great. Each house we came to he had to run the gauntlet of their dogs. He stuck with me even though I could not help him. I saw two brilliant turquoise coloured birds and thought they might be kingfishers. Half time I reckoned I was more than half way round. Got a bit adrift from the main path every now and then but made it before dark….with my friend the dog.

After a lovely swim have another seafood meal. Now had enough crabs to eat for a while.

Sat 1st Mar

Up with cockcrow as you usual! And gecko ‘crow’ and whopping gibbons. The locals are tidying the beach whilst we hang around for a boat and settle what we owe.( $20 for board and food for 2). Off we go back to the mainland and Kep. This is the end of the tour and we say our goodbyes.  Dancing Roads has given us a great tour around Cambodia. I really feel I have seen the country. I have enjoyed the biking very much and also the several boat journeys in between. Boats, water and dusty red roads…these are all part of Cambodia. I understand that I am the oldest lady to date to do the ‘jungle trail bit’ to Chebb.

John and Clive and I are staying together and hiring mopeds today in order to ride to Sihanoukville for the night.

Mopeds arrive and Clive gets the one new one whilst John and I get the older ones. Off we go..a few stops and starts because they had no petrol in them. We have to buy a litre from a roadside stall. Dodgy petrol! 0n we go . We enjoy stopping and taking photos and riding on these mopeds. We finally reached Sihanoukville and found our hotel. John didn’t like it so a swap was made to one by the beach.

We three then lay on the beach (nice long sandy beach) being plagued by endless child salespersons selling fruit, macrame stuff, manicures,massages, haircuts, prawns ,scarves etc. Enough to drive you mad. Plenty of bars and restaurants for the evening though.

Sun 2nd march

Easy start to day, breakfast ,internet etc. Did not fancy being pursued on the beach so did not swim. Gather ourselves to set off back to Kep. Its about 140 kms. My wonderful moped does not have a working speedo. Its top speed seems a bit limited today too. John’s expires on a hill in full sunshine; Clive out in front not yet aware. No tools! John fiddles with plug lead and finally seems able to turn carbureter jet with his fingers. Rather too loose perhaps? Bike starts, off he goes with me behind. Clive comes back and gets in the lead again. On we go. Before reaching Kep John runs out of petrol with about 1 mile to go. We find plastic container and take petrol from my bike! I have used less than the heavy men.

Reach hotel who has been looking after our bags. Hand over the mopeds…$14 for 18 hours and 280kms. I am beginning to feel a little ‘precious’  but go out with Clive and John. Then feel very faint at the meal and go home in the tuk tuk. Feel better in the fresh air. Stomach a bit disturbed…probably Sihanoukville..we knew we didn’t like it! During the night it rained…properly! The end of the dry season.

 Mon 3rd Mar

I feel better after very strange dreams. Another night on a very hard bed. Cambodians do not go in for bottom comfort. Our bikes had hard seats, all  chairs are hardwood with no cushions, and the beds have very hard ,very shallow mattresses on a wooden base. Cambodians are mostly slim with small hips…does that make sleeping on hard beds easier? The only soft place is a hammock which are hanging up everywhere.

John had made an arrangement with Ra (one of the tour team) to pick him up in a car and take him to Phnom Penh. We had thought to take a bus but John said it was okay to go with him and Ra.

Ra drove us at an unhealthy speed. We survived to see a temple (Ta Prohm) and ‘the killing field’ site on our way to P P. We had lunch near a river and one of the dishes Ra ordered was partridge. It turned up as 2 roast small birds complete with legs, claws, and head on. All they had done prior to cooking was to remove the feathers. He also kindly found a shopping place to buy some gifts.

Peter is still in town and we met up with Sonia too, We all went to two ‘expat’ type places..FCC and Everyones to drink followed by a meal at ‘Friends’.

It is very easy to get around the city by tuk tuk. I liked Phnom Penh. It had filthy market places and the very poor working on the pavements (barber stalls, shoe cleaning etc), but it also seems to be attracting investment (from Korea esp) thus giving it a bit of a hum. The river front is good too. Down sides are corrupt police and thieving.

Tues 4th mar

We fly to Kuala Lumpar and leave Cambodia. Friendly people, lovely fresh fruit. Interesting roads and temples. Houses with no running water, no fridges. Mopeds, bicycles and carts for the masses. Very well behaved children living by the roads, intelligent survivor dogs. Poor pigs, long legged chickens.

We are having 24 hours in Malaysia on the way home, in Kuantan.

 Wed 5th Mar

Weather is not great …rain and cloud. I wake up with an eye infection but luckily some eye drops bought in a pharmacy begin to clear it up.  Clive has been here several times before and shows me around.

After lunch we head back to the airport and wave goodbye to this visit to Asia. Back in London our own bikes start and tyres are not flat!! We have a good ride home in good weather

Asia Long Distance Touring