The story of how I saved money, quit my job, sold my possessions,
and set off to endlessly travel by bike around the world.
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more about Sponsorship)
HERE for Touring Bikes and Commuting Bicycles
Custom Touring Bicycles and Bike Upgrade Buyers Guide
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Steel Repair Myth.
and Aluminum Derailleur Hanger Repair.
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Phil Wood: The Best Bicycle Hubs
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Cargo Trailers Vs Panniers
Tires for Bike Tours..
Bicycle Touring Saddles.
Women's Specific Bike Touring Saddles
Brooks Leather Touring Bicycle Saddle Care and Conditioning
Touring Handlebars, Bar Ends, Adjustable Stems, and Padded Grips.
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Buying Camping Equipment
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all 3 book)
Cambodia Daily Journal
Travel Writing, Blog, Travelogue
Poipet to Tien Bien, Cambodia
(December 16- January 16, 2004)
||Poipet - Sisophon. Border crossing always make me
nervous, there is always a change and most changes can not anticipated. I
expected a change from Thailand to Cambodia but the change was more
extreme then I expected. We arrived early in the morning and got
our exit stamps from Thailand easily. The first thing I notice was
a man in a wheel chair crossing the border into Thailand. His legs were
completely gone, completely, it made me shutter to think how he lost
them, no doubt stepping on a land mine. Cambodia has more land
mines than any other country in the world, and that fact can be seen in
the people in the country side.
A steady stream of people all dressed
in shabby clothes were pushing and hurrying to get across the border
into Thailand. Going the other way were the well dressed Thai
going to Poipet to gamble or visiting other parts of Cambodia. The
contrast between the people was huge. We crossed over to Cambodia
and I waited in a long line for our arrival stamp. We purchased
our Visas through our hotel yesterday and I was glad we did, the less
time at the border the better. Tim waited outside with the bikes
while I stood in line until it was time for him to get his picture
taken. He ran inside was photographed and we left. The first
major change was we were now riding on the right side of the road again,
it was easy to switch back to the right. The chaos continued with
little boys pulling wooden carts across the border mixed with smartly
dressed girls who worked in the casinos. I saw all manner of cart,
bicycle, and scooter. One man was riding a big three wheeled
machine and he was turning a cranks with his hands to propel the
machine, another man was pushing a bicycle type machine but in the area
where a seat would be there was a huge basket filled with goods.
The smells were a mixture of fish, burning garbage, and dust. Dust
was hanging in the air. Crossing into Cambodia was an intense jolt
to my senses.
We stopped at the Canadia bank located on the right, 500 meters from
the round about. I changed my baht to riel, later I would find out
that the locals prefer baht. I changed the equivalent of
$200 US and came out of the bank with a wad of cash 2 inches (5 cm)
thick. The exchange rate is $1= 3960 riel. Where in the world am I
going to carry this stash of cash. I pulled out a few small bills,
5000 riel from the stack put them in my change purse and put the rest
deep in the my pannier. The average income per capita per year is
$280. I had practically a years pay in my hand.
The road out of Poipet was paved for the first 5 km, the next 10 km
was dirt and the remaining 30 km was paved with large pot holes. The
traffic was heavy at first and remained a steady stream the entire day.
The cars were the worst kicking up dust, the drivers would honk their
horn until they passed us, so our ears were assaulted with a constant
honking sound most of the day. We began to get hungry and started
to look for a place to stop, all I saw were stands selling gas in every
bottle imaginable. Finally we came across a small market. We
picked a table in the shade and sat down. They had bowls of food
on the table and I could not recognize any of it. The first bowl
had rice with a rice paste and what looked like a type of bean. OK I
will have one bowl of that please. I tried it, it was actually very
tasty like rice pudding with a few scattered beans. The children
gathered around immediately all of them said hello with big huge smiles.
Tim gave them a flyer about our trip and they all had to see what was on
the paper. I pulled out our phrase book, thank you Tim for insisting we
had this, I asked them how to say thank you. One girl could speak
a little English and she helped me pronounce a few words. They
were all very sweet kids. When we were ready to go Tim jumped on
his bicycle and pretended he was starting a motorcycle, the kids just
loved it and were laughing and giggling as we peddled away. For
the next 25 km the kids would yell hello to us in English and Khmer the
language of Cambodia.
In Sisophon we stayed in Hotel Phnom Svay for our room with a TV and fan
was $6 a night. We had to drag our belongings to the second floor.
Cindie learning Khmer from children in a small Cambodian village
||Sisophon - Kralanh. I must mention that we have been
reading a web site about the area it is
www.mrpumpy.net Without this website we would not know the
road conditions ahead or where we could find a place to sleep. It
is a great web site and entertaining too.
We left town about 7:30 am
in a cloud of dust and stayed in that cloud all day. Sweat and
dust together makes mud, I had mud on my arms and legs at the end of the
day. The road was pretty much flat with a few slight rises.
We started to notice signs on the side of the road warning of land
mines. The land is very fertile and something is growing every
where, in the low area are rice patties and the higher areas are covered
in trees. People would look at us for a long time as they passed
us on their scooters. They were wearing long sleeve shirts, long
pants and a scarf around their head, all protection for the dust and
sun. We saw water buffalo being herded and ox carts rolling down
the road. We took a break and bought two juices, lyeche, and
orange, and a couple of bananas. The people at the store where
About 2 km from the town we planned to stay the night we stopped for
a cold drink. We were greeted by a group of young adults, 50% of
the people in Cambodia are under the age of 15. They were friendly
and asked us if we wanted to try snake, I thought he was trying to say
steak. He kept saying snake snake. Finally Tim said show me
the snake. Oh my it is snake. hmm Tim said he was full from
eating dust all morning and did not want any snake. Check out the
photos of this tasty meal.
Tim being encouraged to try snake by a Cambodian man.
|54 km dirt
||Kralanh - Siem Reap. We knew that we had 20
kilometers of dirt and 35 kilometers of pavement, thanks to information
from Mr. Pumpy. The road was flat but bumpy, the only spot on the
road that was semi smooth was at the very right where the bicycles ride.
I had to fight off a couple of cars that wanted the same patch of road,
the trucks were slower than we were, and then there was the dust.
The scenery was very interesting, I began to notice that there was
something growing everywhere, either rice or trees or water, the only
bare spot was the road. We stopped for a drink and spoke with a
man who learned English while living in a refugee camp on the Thailand
border. We also met another man who said he was in the Vietnam war
but he did not look old enough to me. As we approached Siem Reap
the traffic started to pick up. The road was full of girls on
bicycles, families on scooters and the rouge car speeding at over 50 km
per hour with the horn going no stop. I have seen more girls on
bikes in this country then any other country I have been in. They
all are sweet and say hello when we pass.
We knew we were in
civilization again when we heard the airplane over head, suddenly all
the aid group head quarters started to appear, French, European,
American. I heard the familiar sound of drilling and wanted to
investigate. Well they are improving their water supply. We
cruised into town past 5 or 6 5 star hotels holy cow how much does that
cost. Very fancy. We rode on by and took a break at the gas
station, air conditioning, heaven.
We searched around for a guest house and settled on Smiley Guest
House for $6 a night, we have a large room, two beds, and a fan over
head. The place is very clean, they are constructing an add on at the
moment and the staff is friendly and helpful.
Image of Tim passing a cart drawn by water buffalo.
|33 km paved (20 km dirt)
||Siem Reap. I am itching to go to the temples but
Tim has talked me into getting some chores down and take a day off the
bike. We cleaned and cleaned our gear, laundry and bikes.
Tim worked on the web site and email. We will be well rested for
our visit to Ankor Wat tomorrow. With much discussion we decided
to purchase a 7 day pass for $60 each, ouch a steep price. Tim
knows three days would not be enough for me.
||Siem Reap. Tim and I rode into the temples of Ankor Wat
today. It is a difficult task to explain these immense ruins.
First, I must say they are best visited by bicycle whether you have your
own bike or you rent. The road is absolutely flat the entire way.
We rode past Angkor Wat and entered the large Angkor Thom complex
through the south gate. This was our first glimpse at the face of
Avalokitesvara. The first temple we came to was Bayon. It
did not look like much at first but as we approached we could see the
many faces of Avalokitesvara all serenely looking down at us.
There are over 200 faces within the entire complex. Along the
southern wall are detailed bas relief's carved from sandstone. The
detail is absolutely amazing. We left the temple as the tour
groups approached and peddled past the Terrace of Elephants and out the
north gate of Angkor Thom.
Our next stop was Preah Khan (Sacred
Sword), an interesting temple that has been partially rebuilt. The
center of the complex is a bit of a walk from the entrance, to reach the
center we had to go through one stone doorway after another, looking
down the hall gave the illusion that we were looking in a mirror,
amazingly enough it was not a mirror but another long hall of doorways.
In fact, four long hall ways radiate from the center. Along the
path to the temple a group of men, all missing limbs from land mine
explosions, were playing a variety of musical instruments. The
music was pleasant and added to the ambiance of the temple.
Our next stop was Preah Neak Pean, it was originally a reservoir but now
it was dry. It has a few interesting statues. It was now the
middle of the day and we stopped for some noodle soap of which Tim could
have eaten two plates. The portions are small here and poor Tim is always
After lunch we peddled on to Eastern Mebon, it was early afternoon and
the sun was hot, the children at this particular temple were a bit more
aggressive. We kept asking them why they were not in school and
they kept asking us for money. I am always patient with the
children, their country and families have been through so much. I find
it best to be pleasant.
We still had at least 20 km to ride back to the guest house so we
decided to call it a day. On the way back we saw a group of
monkeys south Ankor Wat.
We went out for snack and when we came back to the guest house three
cyclists were checking in to Smileys. They had ridden from the
border as well. They rode from the border in two days, they had
just spent the day riding 100 km of dirt. Alan is from New York,
Pat is from Ontario Canada and so is Robert. We all went out to
dinner. Alan and I made plans to visit Angkor Wat at sunrise.
This profile of Angkor Wat is on the Cambodian flag.
||Siem Reap. Tim and I visited Ankor Wat at sunset,
it is probably the most visited temple in the complex. It has some
of the best bas relief of all the temples and its profile is used on the
Cambodian flag and can be scene everywhere in Cambodia.
||Siem Reap. Tim decided to sleep in this morning
while I went to the temples with Alan. We left the hotel at 5:30
am and arrived at Angkor Wat, 8 km away, just before sunrise. It was
amazing the amount of people up that early. Alan and I wandered
around Angkor Wat for a couple of hours and then took a look at the
Terrace of Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper king, which is
currently under a massive reconstruction. This temple was mapped
by the French and the records were destroyed by the Khmer Rouge, (Pol
Pot), so it has taken many years to reconstruct. We met Rob for breakfast, Tim
who was suppose to meet us too, decided to take the entire day off from the temples. Rob and Alan
did the outer loop while I decided to stay close and do the inner loop.
I went out the Victory Gate on the east side of Ankor Thom and check out the
I stopped at Thommanon and Ta Keo on my way to Ta
Prohm. Ta Prohm is the temple that they filmed Tomb Raider.
It is one of my favorite temples because it is in its natural state with
the jungle slowly taking over the temples. I am sure different people have
different opinions as to what should be done at these historical
monuments, it appears that the current train of thought is to
restore them to their original splendor. I on the other hand
prefer to see the temples the way they were found. It just seems
more natural to me. I went to Banteay Kdei which has a beautiful
By the time I got home I was extremely tired from walking
We are talking about leaving with Alan, Rob and Pat for Phnom
Penh. When we arrived we thought we would have to leave by boat,
the roads were suppose to be very bad. We were torn on the best way to
leave. The dirt road from the border was something I did not want
to repeat again so soon. I spent a whole day cleaning all our
equipment and red silt stained some things.
||Siem Reap. Tim and I decided to do the outer loop
again and visit the temples we missed the first time, we visited Ta Som,
a small temple being restored but still overtaken by the jungle in
areas. Then we rode on to Pre Rup a temple with three towers. Then
we went back to Ta Prohm and wandered around for a couple of hours.
We decided to go back to Bayon in Angkor Thom and then go back to town.
Bayon is still my favorite temple and is always interesting. On
our way back out the south gate of Angkor Thom we stopped to look at a group of
monkeys. There were about 20 of them and over half were babies.
They were a delight to watch and Tim went across the street to
photograph them. While I was waiting on the other side of the street a large female
decided to check me out. I was not sure if she was going to be
aggressive but it turned out that she just walked by me. Whew, I was
relieved to see her stroll on past me. Then a tuk tuk stopped and
started feeding the monkeys bananas. They went a little crazy
grabbing the bananas.
||Siem Reap. I spent the day relaxing, we are
suppose to leave tomorrow. We have decided to
leave with Alan, Rob and Pat for Phnom Penh on Route 6. We
received reports that the road is paved the entire way. In the
past it was a very bad dirt road.
In the evening when we all met for
dinner we found out that Alan's father had passed away in New York. He
was hit by a car while walking near his home. Alan was devastated,
we were all sad to hear the terrible news. Alan had to figure out
how to get home, telephone connections were not that good either.
We would wait until tomorrow morning to see when he would be leaving.
Later in the evening we went out to dinner and just before we left
Sammy a cyclist from Malaysia showed up. Pat, Rob and Alan have
been emailing him. They all met on the
www.mrpumpy.net web site. He
invited us to visit him in Malaysia when we ride through in a year or
so. Sammy speaks five languages including Chinese. He was
heading north to Thailand and then into Laos.
||Siem Reap. Sammy stopped by in the morning before
he started north to Thailand and then Laos. We decided to go for a bike ride with
Alan before he went home to New York. Pat, Tim, Alan and I went
for a ride down to Tonle Sap (lake), where the boats leave for Phnom
Penh. We were all cruising down the road in a pace line when a man
jumped out and said STOP. Pat was in the lead and Tim was right
behind him, Pat locked it up and Tim tried to go to the right, Tim's
front rack tangled with Pat's rear rack, Tim ended up on the ground on
the side of the road. He rolled so he didn't have a scratch on
him, amazing. The man who yelled STOP apologized and we asked what
do you want. Oh I just wanted to stop you nothing important.
Yikes I thought he said, STOP or I will shout (kidding). The
police at the check points for the temples can be quite aggressive.
There is a temple at the top of a hill with a road to it, we decided to
go to the top. Well we did not find the road to the top but
instead took a tour around the entire hill. We rode on a dirt road
with fish drying in the sun on both sides of the road, this was very
upsetting to Tim, he does not like the smell of fish and it was
overpowering here. As we rode around the hill I felt like we were
going farther back in time. Everything was very primitive, houses
on stilts, no electricity, naked kids running around, no motorized
vehicles, water buffalo (very large water buffalo) tethered to trees.
We were riding through a crowd and a women stepped in front of Pat to
block his way, I said, sos' dai, (hello), and she started rambling and
not pleasantly either, Tim was filming behind us. He said when he
pasted her she said, Pol Pot (the former Khmer Rouge leader, very brutal
man). I think she never recovered from what ever happen to her in
We rode on and hear loud music playing and came to a Buddhist temple,
they obviously had electricity, the music was so loud we could not talk
to each other. We posed for pictures in front of the temple and took
some photos of a young monk. We rode back to the main road and
back to the present. We locked up our bikes and walked up the
steps to the temple, which happen to be a long way up the hill and
required an Angkor Wat pass to see. We walked on and Pat and Alan
went back to the bikes.
We decided to take in the view instead of walking the 2 plus
kilometers to the temple. Reunited with Pat and Alan we went
farther down the road towards the lake. The smell of drying fish
was even stronger here. At close inspection the homes were really
boats tied together. One home had a pen with a pig lashed to the
side of their boat. During the dry season the water is low and
when the lake levels rise the people and their homes rise with it.
Even the school was a large boat.
We made it to the end of the road and a boat full of tourists had
just arrived from Phnom Penh. It looked like a scene out of
Indiana Jones where porters our carrying luggage off the boat and
travelers our making their way to shore. We rode back to the hotel for
some lunch. Tim and I rode out to Angkor Wat one last time we
spent sunset at Bayon. I feel that we have only scratched the surface of
viewing these temples, if you like these kind of things you will not be
disappointed at Angkor Wat you will not be the first person to visit
either but with a little planning the temples can be viewed with less
crowds and still be enjoyed. I am happy to see that tourism is
booming here, it is good for the Cambodian people, the locals are
learning hotel and restaurant management and English.
||Siem Reap - Stung. The terrain is flat, road
paved (sealed) except for a few places near Khmer bridges built during
the Angkor Wat period, wind strong from the northeast, scenery rural.
We were all loaded up and ready to go about 8:00 am. It was sad
to be leaving without Alan but he needs to be with his family now.
Getting through the city was pure chaos, burning garbage put fumes in
the air that burned my eyes, scooters, cars and truck were moving in
every direction. I was glad to get beyond the city limits.
The wind was already kicking up so we formed a pace line and rotated to
the front, Pat and Rob learned the whole thing pretty quickly. It
certainly made it quicker to get down the road. A couple hours
down the road we were taking a rest in the shade and two other cyclists
came riding up. Marty and a Dutch guy, we traveled with them for a
while. We were six cyclists in all now, quite a sight on the road.
It was getting towards noon and we decided to take a break from the
sun. We stopped at a road side food stall. There was not to
many things I would eat but at least they had bread. The sell the
best baguettes of bread, a left over from the French. Tim was
sitting in a plastic chair while leaning against another wooden bench.
Pat was on one end of the bench and Rob on the other. Little did
Pat know that when he stood up he would put the following events in
When Pat stood up the bench lifted and put Tim off balance, a leg on
the plastic chair twisted and then snapped throwing Tim to the ground in
the process. The locals all thought that was very funny. Tim
was amused as well. So now we owed the women for her chair, she wanted
$3 and we paid her. Tim decided that he now owned the chair and
told the lady in English that he was going to take the chair with him.
She did not understand English but watched Tim pick up the now broken
chair and walk over to his bike and place it on his back panniers.
Everyone was laughing now, for some reason the chair put the bike off
balance and it quickly fell to the ground, this sent a roar through the
newly formed crowd. Tim quickly scrambled to pick up his bike while a young boy
tried to put the chair back on the bike. Everyone was in stitches
watching Tim and his broken chair, it was like watching a stand up comic
with a prop. He gave the chair to the young boy mounted his bike
and waved goodbye to his attentive audience. I still chuckle when
I think about that broken chair.
We entered Stung late in the day, we stopped at the police station
and they said that there was not a guest house in town. As we
rolled into town Pat got a flat tire, while fixing it at the gas station
we again asked if there was a guest house in town. They also said,
No. This was making
me nervous, I was sure Mr. Pumpy
www.mrpumpy.net, said that there was a guest house in this town.
Rob, Tim and I went in search for a guest house while Pat fixed his flat
at the gas station. We did not go far before we saw a sign with Guest
House in English. It is on the right next to the Western Union.
The rooms were basic and we had a shared bath. Perfect place to
land. We went out for dinner and ate two dinners. We ate at a food
stalls and met very friendly people who are extremely honest. The
Cambodian people have touched my heart. I expected the worst,
miserable people in poverty. Instead I have found warm friendly
people who are honest. The young people are optimistic and their
energy is plain to see.
||Stung - Kompong Thnor. The terrain flat, road
completely paved (sealed), strong wind from the northeast, scenery
We woke early and Tim put the shortwave radio to the BBC, we
usually listen to the shortwave when we are away from the internet and
newspaper. This is when we heard that a Tsunami had hit Phuket,
Phi Phi Island, Sri Lanka and India. The total dead reported was
11,000. We did not have time to listen to the rest of the news but
I do remember an interview with a guy in Phuket and he was asking why
they were not warned. We also heard that an earthquake of 9.0 on
the Richter scale has occurred in the Indian Ocean and was the cause of
the Tsunami. We had to move on and ride but we were all wondering
what this was all about.
The traffic takes a bit of getting use to we had a herd of cows come
out of no where and run across the road, Rob was in the back and almost
did not make it around the lead cow, trucks pull out in front of us, as
if they can not see us, in reality they expect us to get out of the way.
They have a strange way of driving, when they are coming on to a busy
street, they just go, they do not look they just go, we are taught that
the traffic has the right of way and we wait our turn, that is not so
We kept a steady pace into the wind, I could not stay up front too
long and rotated to the back quickly. It took us 4.5 hours of
riding time to reach Kompong Thnor, we were glad to find a guest house,
it is located just after the bridge on the first dirt road to the left.
The room was clean with a standard toilet and shower. Eat early,
the town closes down at sunset. It was
difficult to find a hot dinner. We settled in early and we all sat
around the shortwave for an hour listening to the reports about the
Tsunami, things were worse than originally expected.
We decided on an early start so we could reach Phnom Penh by the end
of the day.
||Kompong Thnor - Phnom Penh. The terrain flat,
road completely paved, traffic light until close to Phnom Penh then it
went crazy, head wind the first 50 km and then a nice tail wind most of
the way to Phnom Penh. Scenery rural, fishing and eventually city.
early and ready to go, well almost. Pat had a couple of Chinese
buns he had purchased the night before and he saved them for breakfast.
He grabbed one from the bag and bit into it, he had a strange sensation
of ants crawling on his arm and at closer inspection he had a swarm of
tiny ants crawling out of his Chinese bun. Gulp. So much for breakfast.
As we packed our bikes Rob and Pat ate a hearty breakfast of eggs, bread,
soup, and coffee at the restaurant below the guest house. They
gave Tim and I tea too..
Again we started out with a head wind. Pat pulled over for a
drink and we told Rob we would ride on slowly, we wanted to take some
pictures. I guess Rob and Pat did not connect quickly and Pat rode
on alone. Rob caught up to him just in time to see that Pat had a
flat tire. Rob rode ahead to catch us and tell us that Pat had a flat. The
three of us
waited in Skun where we had a nice lunch of beef, string beans and rice.
Meanwhile still no Pat I was beginning to wonder if we would make it to
Pat arrived and we pushed on to Phnom Penh, the scenery is getting
green and we got our first glimpse of the Mekong River. We had a
nice tail wind and at times cruised at 30 kph (18 mph). The
traffic picked up as we entered the city. The first obstacle was a
large bridge called the friendship bridge. We climbed slowly while
the scooters whizzed by only inches away from our handle bars. I
was tired and nervous that my reflexes were not fast enough to handle
any sudden movements. Luckily, Pat had been here before and he lead the
way. We were heading for The Bright Lotus II, located around the
corner from the Walkabout.
When we arrived in Phnom Penh and checked our email we found a very
worried group of friends and family. My twin sister Cherie was
especially worried. I do not mean to worry my family, many
families are worried right now, traveling abroad can do that to
families. In cases like this the first thing we will do is post a
message on our discussion board. So in the future check there first if
you are wondering where we are and then I always try to keep my journal
up to day but that is not always easy. Today was the most
kilometers I have ever traveled in one day on a loaded touring bike and
my legs feel like noodles.
||Phnom Penh. Spent the day answering email, we
needed a day off the bike, noodle legs needs a day off to recover.
We saw our first images of the Tsunami today. Heart breaking to
see families torn apart and their homes destroyed. It was reported on
CNN world that 80,000 people were dead, the Asian channel reported
85,000 dead and thousands still missing.
||Phnom Penh. Another rest day, I am some what
stuck to the TV, I want to know more about the Tsunami and then I don't.
They reached Banda Ache, Indonesia today and the death toll has climbed to
over 110,000. 80,000 from Indonesia alone. There have been some
rumbling about why there was no early warning system. India put
out an second alert and the people ran for the hills again. It is
the most frightening thing I have ever seen.
It is difficult to take
care of business from the other side of the world too. I have been
trying to call people in the US and I have to wait until 9:00 pm because
we are 12 hours ahead of New York.
Pat, Rob, Tim and I usually meet for dinner every night. We
found a great restaurant, the best food I have had in Cambodia, the
restaurant specializes in what is called a hot pot.
We sat down and before we knew it we had four glasses with ice and a
couple of girls in beer costumes standing there to take our beer order.
We ordered Angkor and they kept our glasses full during our entire
dinner. I ordered what the people next to us were having.
Soon they placed a ceramic pot on a gas burner in the middle of
the table. They brought out thinly sliced meat, eggs, three types
of noodles, mushrooms, and three types of leafy green vegetable (I do
not know the names). The pot boils and you add a few things to
cook, take some off to eat and add other things to cook. In the
mean time they add a broth, chicken based I think, to keep the pot full.
It seems that their goal is to keep the ceramic pot full as well as our
beer glasses. At the end it cost $3 per person that included
dinner and 4 large bottles of beer. Certainly not tourist
||We took a side trip to the Killing Fields. The
following description may not be appropriate for children. Some of
you may remember when Pol Pot, Khmer Rouge, took over Cambodia, it was
1975. He wanted an agrarian (farming) society. He marched
the people of Phnom Penh out of the city and into the fields. If
you were educated, spoke a foreign language, or a family member of the
educated you were taken away to be executed. Many were sent to Choeung
Ek known as the killing fields. I have read different reports of how
many people were killed here, it ranges from 17,000 to 40,000 people.
At the site there is a tower with 8,000 skulls arranged by sex and age,
a memorial to the people who died here. Forty three of the 129
graves still remain closed the rest have been excavated and you can walk
from one pit to another. There is a large tree where they beat
babies and children to death. How could anyone do this is my
question, I just do not understand. While walking in the hot sun looking
down at the open pits I became queasy, looking down I could see bits of
bone, teeth, and pieces of clothing coming to the surface. Such a
place of suffering. People need to remember what happen her and
try to prevent these kinds of things happening elsewhere.
Unfortunately, things like this are happening in Sudan right now
genocide is not something we should allow to happen anywhere, ever.
a good note we met a Dutch couple, Anna and Roger, who are also cycle
touring here in Cambodia. They were immediately drawn to our
bikes, Koga-Miyata World Travelers, they know them well because they are made in Holland. We
sat and had lunch at the Killing Fields and talked about cycling, the
traffic in Phnom Penh and how far the Cambodian people have come from
their dark past.
Today is New Years day, we went out for a beer with Pat and Rob at
the Walkabout bar, no one was in mood to party. One by one we all went
home all before midnight.
||Happy New Year. We spent the day working on
business things boring but a necessary part of our travels now.
When Pat and Rob showed up for dinner, Rob had a fever, I took his
temperature, it was 99.9 degrees. Not good. A fever should never
be ignored while traveling.
Pat and Rob have plans to go to
Schnookville, down by the coast, tomorrow. Rob by bus and Pat by
motorbike, the motorbike costs $7 to rent.
Rob showed up later in the day, Hey why are you still here. Then he
told us he had a terrible night with a fever and then cold sweats.
Ut Oh. Not a good sign, could be malaria, could be the flu, could be a
lot of things. He went to the doctor earlier in the day. He
said the blood test results would be back by 3:00 pm.
We met Rob for dinner and found out he had typhoid. Typhoid, a
food or water borne disease, is not what he expected, especially since
he had a vaccine in Canada, not too long ago. Scary, lucky for him
he caught it early.
As we ate dinner a man came by selling cooked bugs, like
cockroaches, grasshoppers, and now I have seen it all, spiders,
not little ones either, big and meaty I am sure, it was a little smaller
than my palm of my hand.. Already cooked too. Later as we
walked home we saw the man with the cooked bugs sitting on his motorbike
casually eating a spider.
||Monday, a good day to take care of business, the
holidays have made it difficult to contact anyone. We are doing
some banking and it is difficult to do from abroad.
||I sent half the day looking for a place to fax
something to the US and was not successful. I checked my number it
was right but still the fax did not go. Frustrating.
The other half of the day we went to Tuol Sleng museum also know as SP21.
Again, the following description may not be appropriate for children.
It was where people were torture and interrogated by the Khmer Rouge
before they were sent to the killing fields at Choeung Ek. The grounds
use to be a high school. It was left in the same condition as the
Vietnamese found it in 1979. Step through the door and step back in time
and back to Cambodia's dark dark past. The bottom floors were
large cells, they had photos of the prisoners they found there.
Gruesome. In another building were the photographs, to me the most
disturbing. Room after room had mug shots of people who were
brought there. The Khmer Rouge documented everyone that was there,
recorded their biography and took their photo. People of all ages,
and numerous nationalities were photographed, including an Australian.
At first the faces were just looking back, then I could see the sheer
fright in some women's faces as they clutched their young child, some
men were defiant, some were badly beaten, some were thin already, they
all were dead, tortured and killed. I had to leave halfway through
the building, I was overwhelmed with emotion, I could not look anymore,
those photos will haunt me for a long time. Why do I look, I have
too, I have to know, we have to remember what happen here, so it does
not happen again. I had no idea that people could be so ruthless
and evil. How. The Khmer Rouge recruited children, most of guards
at the prison were children age 10 to 15. Shocking.
On the second follow the cells were much smaller enough for one
person. The outer balcony was covered with fencing a barbed wire
so no one could commit suicide. The third building had the torture
devices. A vice that held a hand while they pulled off the finger
nails and then poured alcohol on the open wounds. A tank where a
person was shackled to the tank that could be filled with water to
drought the prisoner. Horror pure horror. Somehow a painter
survived S21 and painted some of the scenes from the prison.
We watched an hour long movie about one of the women who was killed
there. She did nothing wrong except maybe being beautiful and in
love with her husband. She was sent to the fields separated from
her husband and family. Later she ended up at S21. Her husband was
also killed. The movie was educational and disturbing at the same time.
As we left, we purchased the movie made in 1984,The Killing Fields, a
very good movie, I highly recommend it.
||Phnom Penh, Went to the National Museum today. We
went in the afternoon, the museum is small and has some pieces from
Angkor Wat and other pieces that have been returned from abroad.
As I was gazing at the different statues I passed a table where two
monks were sitting. The invited me to sit down with them.
This surprised me because I did not think that monks talked to women.
I had a lot to learn about monks and today was the day to learn
Tim came over and the two monks explained that they wanted to
practice English. We sat and talked to Seid and his friend for
about an hour. Then Seid asked us we wanted to see where he lived.
We could not pass up the opportunity We walked a couple of blocks
to his room, it is at the X wat. Seid told us that 450 monks lived
there. I wandered what happen to the monks that lived there when the
Khmer Rouge emptied out Phnom Penh in 1975. .
||Phnom Penh. Taking care of banking business is
very difficult in Phnom Penh sending faxes and making telephone calls
are more difficult than I could have imagined. What should have taken a
day or two to work out has taken more than a week.
||Phnom Penh. Still waiting to receive info from the
||Phnom Penh. Rob and Pat leave
||Phnom Penh. Business is taken care of for now.
We can finally leave Phnom Penh. Our visa runs out on Jan 16.
I wish that I saw more of Cambodia but we had to spend two weeks in
Phnom Penh taking care of banking business. So sadly we leave for
the border tomorrow.
||Phnom Penh - Takeo. Road paved, terrain flat, wind
tailwind in the morning and headwind in the afternoon. Scenery,
city then rural rice patties and small towns.
||Takeo, Cambodia - Chau Doc Vietnam. Road dirt for
52 km to the Vietnam border, terrain flat.
||52 km dirt
25 km road
SE Asia / China
11-22-04 to 9-15-06
December 16- January 16, 2005
Cambodia and Angkor Wat
Poipet to Tien Bien, Cambodia
Best Place to see Pictures
Cambodia Thumbnail Pictures
(January 16 - February 17 , 2005)
Tinh Bien to Cau Ganh, Vietnam
Tim's Emailed Newsletters
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South Vietnam Thumbnails
May 22 - June 27, 2005
Guizhou and Hunan,
Zhangjiajie National Park China
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Pictures of Guizhou, China.
(July 16 - Sept. 3, 2005)
Inner Mongolia and Shanxi, China.
Beijing to Xian, Shaanxi, China
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Thumbnail pictures from Inner
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Beijing to Jining, Inner Mongolia.
Grasslands of Jining, to Wuchuan (near) Hohhot
to Bautou, Inner Mongolia, China
Bautou to Yulin, Shanxi, China with Photos from Genghis Khan's Mausoleum.
- Yulin to
Yanan, Shaanxi, China
Chairman Mao's Headquarters and Residence in Yanan, China.
- Yanan to
Xian, Shaanxi, China.
Terracotta Warriors #1
Terracotta Warriors #2.
(Sept. 4 - Oct. 29, 2005)
Chengdu, to Zongdian, China
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- Giant Panda
Breeding Center #1
- Red Panda
in Chengdu, Sichuan, China #2
Chengdu to Kangding.
Sichuan, located in Southwestern China.
Mugecuo Lake near Kangding, Sichuan, China.
Xinduqiao to Tibetan Home Stay.
Home Stay to 4718 meter (15,475 feet)
Litang, Sichuan, China.
Litang Lamasary Tibetan Buddhist Monk Monastery
to Sumdo, Tibet
- Sumdo to
Xiangcheng to Derong, Tibet.
Sichuan Province to Tibetan Shangri-La, (Zongdian)
(Oct. 30 - Dec. 24, 2005)
Zongdian to Mohan, China
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(July - Sept. 15, 2006)
Malaysia #3 and Singapore.
Taiping, Malaysia to
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Malaysia #3 and Singapore
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