|Cambodia Searching for the border and cycling along the Mekong|
Written by: Marlous
Searching for the border and cycling along the MekongWe cycle into a piece of no-ones-land and soon we see the beam and a shed, which is the border office of Cambodia. The stamps are quickly in our passports and after paying a few dollars for this very special service we crawl with our bicycles under the red and white colored beam. There’s a brand new road waiting for us and Cambodia is lying in front of us. “Sir!!” we hear someone yelling from the border shed at the moment we want to start cycling. For a while we think something is wrong but soon we hear the same man again: “Good luck to you!!!” With this warm welcome we start cycling towards Stung Treng. It’s quiet on the road and we hear a burning sound in the forests we pass. Everywhere there are bushfires and the flames are getting close sometimes. The few people we see are greeting us with big smiles. After 50 km we take a ferry to the other side of the river and we arrive in a lively centre where we find a guest house.
When we ask about the circumstances of the road to Kratie, we are told is very bad and dusty. “It’s better for you to take a bus.” The next morning we are at 7.00 am on our bicycles and we don’t feel much of the bumps and the dust on the newly paved road. The wind makes it hard for us at first, but when it turns we roll easily. The cars drive like crazy and are often overloaded. The road goes a bit different than on the map and it is good news for us to hear that we only have to cycle 6 more kilometers to reach Kratie. We stay for a day in Kratie to taste a bit of the Cambodian ambiance. From our room we can see the market, which is busy from early in the morning till late in the evening. It’s very clear we are in Asia by taking a look on the market ourselves. You can buy everything and when we arrive at the meat section we have to swallow ten times and move on quickly.
From Kratie we continue cycling towards Kampong Cham. It’s beautiful cycling on a small dirt road along the Mekong. We see houses on the river of the fishermen, white cows towing wooden carts and everybody wants to greet us. We pass a lot of Islamic villages where the kids run besides our bicycles along the road. It’s wedding season in Cambodia so we see a lot of colorful parties. Big tents are put up in the middle of the road, the music is booming on the streets and people wear beautiful clothes in bright colors. In Stong Trung we cross the Mekong again and we continue cycling on the sand to Kampong Cham. At the end of the day we are covered with sand and dirt from top to toe, but after a good shower we are sand free again.
With a tailwind the cycling feels like sailing and we are getting closer to the capital of Cambodia. Today we want to cycle a long distance, but with all the wind we arrive in Snuol before we know it. When you are traveling by car at this point and you stop, you are soon surrounded by at least ten sellers who want to sell you drinks, fruit and entire meals. Snuol is known for a very special delicassy: delicious fried spiders! The fried eightlegged animals are lying on big plates waiting to be sold. With some fried onions is should be a real treat. We keep our break by drinking some fresh sugarcane juice and enjoy watching the sellers running towards the traffic.
Soon we arrive in the busy part of the capital. We have to watch all the traffic carefully, because there seems to be no rules. Cars, busses and bikes come from all directions. When we cross the Japanese Friendship Bridge we have a great view at the centre. We are in Phnom Penh.
* Khong Island (Laos) – Stung Treng (Cambodia): 112 km
* Stung Treng – Kratie: 143 km
* Kratie - Kampong Cham: 120 km
* Kampong Cham – Phnom Penh: 130 km