Riding motorcycles, why do we do it! Is it to be just the simple answer, to get us from A to B, or is it more? Possibly that we enjoy the independence and also the freedom to explore, the moto will certainly do that job for us, although to some expats, even from the country they once came, it may be seen as a dangerous past time. But in Cambodia it must be deemed more of a suicidal pastime, let’s face it, those of us whom chose to ride, don’t have very much in our favour. But even though I say this it can be an unforgettable, and the most enjoyable adventure.
Let us step back and start at the beginning “the laws”, riding on the highways of the country. Simplicity, just pop into any hire shop, pay the rental fee leaving your passport as guarantee. Licence, 125cc and under was changed not that long ago, no licence required and no age restrictions, law is unclear if the same applies for westerners, we read what we can or cannot, and then just naturally follow suit. International driving permits are not excepted, you can take a test for a vehicle size over 125cc or can now do the exchange licence of your countries to obtain the now needed, according to the law, Cambodian licence. Also, road tax was applicable for a moto over 125cc now it is apparently exempt on all size motorcycles.
First obtaining the moto of your own, where to buy, from a friend, online, shop. If buying a new moto would you buy from the shop/dealer, more than likely with putting the registration in your own name, again a law from a few years ago, stating that foreigners could only now register new or unregistered vehicles in their own name. So, what of our second hand moto, not registered in our names, we hear stories of police taking them off expats, but it you obtain the papers needed and sale receipt, although registration not in your name, you are still the legal owner. It must be said that laws, regarding many things here are not always clear to understand.
So now you have your moto, time to go out on the roads, helmet on, it’s the law despite all the Khmer you will see without, also it may save your life. You will have noticed they drive here on the right, well the majority do, but some don’t. Instead of me writing all what needs to be said, you will soon find out for yourselves. Here are the Cambodian traffic laws for driving on the highway, enjoy and please take care.
https://roadsafecambodia.com/wp-content ... w_2007.pdf
It had been on the cards for some time that I would have to return to Koh Kong since finishing the business, now over a year back, time fly’s by when you’re having so much fun, or is it like my mum used to say time goes too fast has you get older. I sold some items in the bar and at the time was paid half the cost, with the promise of the balance to be sent on to me via Wing. That never happened, but it took me by surprise, due to me helping the person on occasions over past years, she herself being a person in business and would state her terms and agreement, always paid when she said. My lady said it was because we left, she took it as losing a friend, I saw it more like I was not there so in her way she forgot me quickly.
I had also left my generator and 3 power tools behind, although in safe capable hands, being that of an old Khmer gentleman that we become friends, possibly more so due to our shared interests in woodworking. What drew me to the most interesting point of his work and skill, he would use the mortise and tenon joint, also different types of simple Lapped Joints, he only had old basic tools, consisting of two sized chisels, a small hand planer, hammer and small saw. Basic joints but still nice to see, in today’s world that simple craft has been on its way out for years, being replaced by DIY dowel and location pins, screws and panel pins, new easy affordable furniture firstly by the likes of MFI and now Ikea, and the later I like, due to me converting some items of furnishing’s to suit my own needs in a past hobby of Aquaponics, they sell shelving and units, good plastic tub items, only leaving me to buy pumps and lighting (LEDs) for an indoor unit of educational values, so I am not knocking it, also due to the self-assemble items it was very much available to all. I don’t think long for this country going similar ways, if the sale of apartments excels.
The longer Ride, well not really intended, I got over to central market hoping to get the mini-bus with the bike on the back door. Unfortunately, the driver I had used on past occasions was on his alternate journey, coming to the city instead of going. The highest fare I have paid in the past was $23 for two and the moto. The van going was waiting still for passengers, he would not be getting my custom since asking me for the fare of a mere $75. I have ridden the distance on several times over past years, the first possibly several years back after buying my first bike in Phnom Penh. I still did the journey in one day despite the rear shock failing on the hilly sections toward my destination.
Anyway the adventure begins down Kampuchea Krom Blvd (128) stopping for a good coffee, and now the day was hot, the point I asked my pillion passenger if she would think it better to get the mini-bus in the morning, we could go have a nice meal in town and return home for tonight, I tried but she was having none of it, there is nothing that equals to a stubborn senseless Khmer girl. Traffic too was very busy I noticed while sipping my latte, I would have preferred a strong Cambodian coffee with sweet milk has I was looking for the first time of seeing a new model Rolls Royce creeping along with the backed-up traffic. It was not long before we were to be in that rat race in the direction of Road 4 leaving the city behind and hopefully the congestion. Passing the Airport my phone was ringing on and on, but I can’t do the same as the other people passing by us weaving in and out of the heavy traffic one handed due to their phone pressed in the ear or in front of ones face giving them ability to text, and why! if anyone has the answer do they all think they are Barry Sheen on the last lap with Kenny Roberts by their side? Young school girls scare me stupid as they continually cut me up, again at times I forget that I should not be riding on the road. A deep breath and I am parked up at the roadside answering the phone to the minibus driver still having room since his customers did a no show, but now he cannot understand English, I pass her the phone, $50! I have been here too long one would think at times, why do they think because you are with a Khmer girl, that they can talk the girl into what they too want, thinking they are entitled to a share of the money too. Onwards and a few photo stops on the way passed the factories, thankful it was Sunday.
Kampong Speu is good for tonight’s sleep with a nice hotel room at $7 The Doung Meas with a good place to eat up and across the road. The Lotus Coffee good and clean, and nice seating in the garden, also when they close and the staff depart the security guard does not mind you are still sitting there in the cool of the evening. It’s one of the places that I consider a little gem to visit on a journey, one of the places that will not disappoint.
Unlike the first time I was forced to stop doing this journey in the opposite direction and due to heavy rainfall.
We walked into the Chinese establishment over the road, opposite the Lotus Coffee, the place was very busy with locals, I sensed the disapproval from staff, on us bursting in like a pair of drown rats out of the sewer, the fact was the waitresses headed away from us, the management approached handing me a iPad menu, my lady said the spring rolls look good! With my reply of “they should” on the menu they are the cheapest of veg starters at $6 the rest of the menu read starters $6-8 mains $30-40. We left the place quicker than we had made the entrance, but I think that is what was expected, and the rain had stopped, now the smiles were back once again.
There’s cable television in the room so chance to see a good movie in English also catch up on the latest news with the BBC. Down by the river and the night market there are plenty of places to get a snack or meal soft drink, or a cold beer.
Morning and we are heading up Road 4 once again, and its busy in areas, especially the little hamlets on route, but riding a moto you must always be alert of your surroundings and situation, looking in your mirrors is important too, be aware what is coming behind, SUVs come quickly. There is a highway code and also driving laws, but very little of the rules seem to be followed, and it’s rare for any other road user to consider you, or even possibly see you, It makes me think at times, I wonder if they even consider themselves and their own safety. Be always be prepared for anything, even at times to leave the road, more so when the oncoming vehicle is heading towards you on your side of the road with his horn blurting and headlights flashing, he probably could not stop at the speed if it is a large truck or articulated vehicle anyway, so hope there’s nothing in the way on your right side, anything parked or oncoming moto, because now is the time to get off the road out of his way, nor thinking is there still room for me, likewise there is no playing chicken, only serious injury or your life ending would be the result of if you stayed where you are.
I find the views of the area interesting when you have the chance to look away from the road, past the large clothing factories and the many mango plantations, with the small fruit sellers, with their stalls along the roadside selling produce of the season. I have noticed in this area, also there are a few turkeys around at this time, but no snow men.
There are plenty of places to stop if at times it all gets a little crazy or just a stretch of the body, or ease the usual pain in the bum, always making sure to refresh your body and mind, not forgetting to drink plenty, don’t get dehydrated in the heat of the day. It is also worth considering your route and estimated time scale of departure and arrival, that maybe easier in the west or the country you used to once reside. Here! I tend to leave this open, my arrival will be when I get there, meaning that there is nothing that pressing to set a time in stone, if I needed to be somewhere at a certain time, for any other reason I would have travelled via taxi or bus. That is also a consideration on a journey, to put the moto and yourself on a mini-bus, part or full journey it’s up to you, like in this story don’t pay too much, consider the moto the same price has the passenger fare, I find that to be the norm, yes! Barang price, add a few dollars if bargaining, some places this happens and others it doesn’t, at bus stations or busy pickup points try to cut out the fixer if possible, if he tends to be asking too much money, but at times these guys can be reasonable and more helpful, they can sometimes get you sorted and quickly on your way, best is to have a phone number of a driver, bus you have previously used.
Don’t forget to fill up too on these long journeys, I would not like to push any moto in this heat because I ran out of fuel. Take your time before leaving the filling station, and just have a look over the moto, make sure everything is still in place and more so, nothing loose or missing. In the past I have found nuts to work themselves loose on these rough roads. I tend to do a full inspection after and before I take a journey, also do any maintenance that maybe needed, electrics, brakes, chain adjustment, tyre wear and pressure, oil and fluid level, the later I would take the moto into a shop and let them change the oil being there is no real difference in price if you buy the oil and do it yourself, only thing is you are left with the old oil to dispose of doing it yourself, at times I take a small used water bottle and ask the guys at the shop to fill the bottle with the used old oil from the moto, then I can use this at times to oil the chain.
48km from the start this morning and the highlight of the day, just coming up on my righthand side.
We are at Traeng Trayueng there is a row of restaurants and can be a busy area with the buses stopping to feed and water their passengers, there is a good choice of food here for most budgets, the one I now prefer is one that has good western food. It goes by the name “The Stop Café” what draws me to this place? The Meat Pies and on the menu it as a description of the dish, such as the Shepperd’s Pie being from Yorkshire like myself, but don’t get too excited at times it can be hit or miss, not on quality but availability, but there is always another alternative dish, a little bit middle of the road on price too, again there are plenty other restaurants to choose from with high or low prices.
To the right there is Kirirom National Park and to the left there are hills and the famous Bokor in the background, now just a tad along the road you come to Grandmother Mao Pichnil a place of worship situated at the top of the hill and near borders of the Provence’s, the place is highly respected by the Khmer, praying for safety and luck for their onward journey, holy water is available too, it does make one think about that all want to be safe, but leading up to and from there, how many demons are driving on the road! It may be a good place to also hand out copies of safe driving. So onwards down the steep hillside road were workers wash the dirt away from the big trucks, or cool them down with their overloads struggling to get up to the top. On the hills and corners Khmer seem to have some respect of the danger they can impose, so there seems to be a little pleasant rest or breathing time, but don’t relax for long, soon it will be once again flat and the madness will return with drivers right feet pressed down to the floor, but then we must think this is one of the main highways in the kingdom.
Then its Srei Ambil Roundabout taking the right fork to leave the busy Road 4 on to the more relaxing route of Road 48 and now entering Koh Kong Province. A little way up is Boeng Preav where the road splits into Srei Ambil, also there is Lim Long Gas Station where I will fill up if needed and good washrooms, handy to wash away some of that dust from the face, nice and refreshing, a good start to continue on the journey alongside the Cardamom Mountains.
Road 48 or the proper name (National Road) NR48 is a nice road to travel, but when it’s not good it will then certainly bite back, it has had its moments with me over the past. I have travelled this road on many occasions and on a various moto’s, it is a road to have respect for, also try to keep up with the conditions of the road surface and repair, also the weather is worth consideration, you may want to look at the time of day that you may also be traveling.
One year back this is how the road was before Sre Ambel. My lady desired to walk a little.
Sre Ambel is worth a look if you wish to do so, or have the time, it its self is a small market town with a few places to eat and a couple of guest houses, may not be much of an attraction, but it is worth the time to see typical Khmer people farmers and fishing men, shop keepers going about their daily chores, I find it to be a very pleasant place.
Bridge counting now, 4 of them to go over on route to Koh Kong, the first we approach is Sre Ambel Bridge, at this point we are now 155km from our starting point of Phnom Penn, and a mere 136km from or destination of Koh Kong. It is worth pulling up once on the bridge, and if lucky there will be a nice cool breeze blowing down river, the scenery is good and worth the time, people usually fish up on the bridges early evenings and the younger generation on their Honda dreams will meet and mingle with friends, some will be doing their courting too.
Leaving the bridge behind the landscape is pretty flat with vast open space to the left and mostly rice crops, buffalo submerged in the pools of water, typical wooden farmhouses on stilted legs. there are also fruit plantations and pepper plants slightly hid from view with the type of tree to give them protection from the elements. I have always been quite fond of this area; I find it somewhat pleasing and a very a very tranquil place, but then again there is new buildings being built, like most areas nowadays. I think the expats whom have found the place where they are happy and want to be are very lucky. I am still looking (slowly now) and at times in hope, I would hope it is due to liking the country. Although sometimes I think to myself the place, that I look for may possibly not be here after all, only time will tell.
But that’s what I enjoy about traveling by moto, you tend to see more then on the bus where you may get a glance, but being on the moto you can stop and look whenever you wish to do so. Approaching the 2nd bridge over the Preak Piphot River at Botum Sakor you will hear and see the many bird houses, even more so on the other side of the bridge in the small hamlet of mostly Muslim community. Bird houses, that was the main reason I left the bar in Koh Kong, there were 5 of them, it was not the birds, but the electronic bird callers that came on at 4.30am until sometimes 10pm in the evening, I have never listened to birds of that description call so loud, I would say the people that owned and run them had no clue about their new venture, it would be the attraction of the monies that may have been back in the offering. I understood demand had dropped off at one point, leaving the nests at a low, down to half price on the kilo, now the price was up once more, and not that far off the high price it once was in the year’s past. Two hotels on the street had built new top floors, turned those floors into bird houses. Some of the older hotels in town had been completely renovated for keeping birds, hopefully being a better income than that of paying guests. I tried to blot out the constant noise with music at times, but the end result is the surrounding noise of loud tweeting was just too much for me, and would eventually with no doubt, keep my customers away too.
This I decided was the place to stay for the night once more, but away from the bird house near the river and lower end of town. We found a good room at the far end of the small town, the thing you may not find some of the accommodation on the likes of Agoda or other such sites, so it’s a case of just looking, I was hoping to go a little more to a place I once stayed some time ago, that place had no sign nor any indication of being a guest house, it is like I say just asking and being lucky. The reason for stopping the night, were the once again unfortunate conditions of the road, pothole after pothole and some parts no surface at all only stone chips that are unfriendly when you have only two wheels. I have done the journey in the day in either direction in the past, but now I have also learned when to call it a day.
In the morning I checked over the bike, there are four bolts holding down the handlebar clamp, one was one inch adrift with the plastic cap still attached, I removed the caps and discarded them has I retightened down the bolts holding the bars in place. That’s what the rough roads can do has a result, it’s always worth the little time to look over the bike when on a journey. My partner had walked up to the road to find breakfast, hot coffee and Crapes! Pancakes in my language, she had done well, being that you won’t usually find western dishes in these places. I am not so opposed to Khmer food, but then again it is never on the top of my good food list. I too am not really a good breakfast person, unless it happened to be a British fry up, coffee is good. If must, I can cope well in the mornings with egg, and rice or rice soup with possibly chicken, but I don’t like chewing on bones, not early morning anyway.
It was not that far up the road where we stayed before has it happened, but I was unsure of the distance last night, but no problem it’s good to know where you can stop and sleep for the night if or when needed. Up to now I have stayed at three places from there down to Highway 4. I found after there for a while prices for accommodation was a little expensive to the tune of $50 per night for some. The places I were to stay priced at $7 fan $12 aircon, not forgetting I’m only using the room while I am traveling, but the occasions have called for the stop, be it the weather or more easy for my lady, traveling by bike is not for everyone, so at times it will make the difference if it’s a nice room with some comfort and Wi-Fi and LCD TV, the rooms have served the purpose, being adequate and of reasonable price.
It is a very pleasant morning and the roads are never busy on this route, but still you must look out for the other road users, minibuses, and more so the large bus, they tend to travel at some speed coming from behind you, it’s more rare that the oncoming traffic will be on your side of the road unless there is an obstacle making them deviate, such as potholes or cows. Yes, watch out for farm animals and pedestrians, also dogs in the evenings. Many people I know would not travel these roads in darkness, too be honest I have on lots of occasions and don’t really mind, the traffic at night is sparse to say the least. The reason stopping last night is the problem seeing the bad road surface.
On the left is Union Road going to the resort Dara Sakor, and the National Park. I have at times wanted to go take a look at the area down there, but its 59km from the turn off on road 48, and the thought is there, if I should be turned away it’s a round trip of 118km for nothing. There is Kiri Sakor and King island, but I don’t think the hotel is open now. Before I was on a friend’s boat, I got the impression he would not get too close.
Now the road starts to climb steeply with a few twists and turns. Up near the top of the hill is what you could call a remote viewing point, and if you blink you would miss it. Here I will nearly always stop for an hour or two, the view, to put it only mildly is incredible sight, probably the best in the area, not really worth riding past, even if you was to stay five minutes it would be worth the time, just to see the vast forest that continues as far has one can see, all the way to the horizon in one’s possible view. It is also worth calling at a roadside stall beforehand to buy some snacks, fruit and drinks, it can get hot in the exposed location, although there is a shelter to help take a little heat away.
A Guide to Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains
Spanning more than 4.4 million hectares of rainforest in southwestern Cambodia, the Cardamom Mountains remains Southeast Asia’s largest remaining rainforest. Inhabited by a swathe of endangered wildlife, the expansive woodland is also home to about 25,000 people, many of whom are ethnic minorities.
https://theculturetrip.com/asia/cambodi ... mountains/
Then the journey onward towards the 3rd bridge at Trapeang Rung, after the bridge there are plenty of roadside restaurants, but what is important now is to make sure the moto had fuel, from here to the next bridge there is not many more places, and it also depends on the time at this point onwards. Now there is enough potholes to be concerned about and I am happy we have the daylight. It was a year or more on this section I had my troubles.
The so called pothole, was then to resemble bomb creators which many you could ride the full bike in and down the hole to a depth of two feet or so, and back out, then into one more and then repeat on and on, it was hard going at times, with a lot of parts also under water, no way of seeing to the bottom of the holes, it was to come in sections, like it was some kind of training or course, testing the drivers/riders abilities and control. We now seemed to clear the worst and on tarmac of sorts, but then we would be faced again with the test once more, but, more so over and over again, it was somewhat of a challenge. Some had also failed the challenge with vehicles left, abandoned.
Where the road flattened out I stopped at the roadside store for water, it was thirsty work, then, later riding away I was now strangely feeling the deflation of the rear tyre, concerns for the rim of the wheel we could not press on, unless we can get a repair there is no going on to Koh Kong with this moto. I said to her “ride steady back to the shop” she was lighter than myself, also she is very capable of riding bikes with a clutch. I had pushed the bike already for quite some way, down the hill, the shop was now also back in view. The shop owner tried to wake up the local bike repair man, but to no avail. He informed us due to him and his friend had been buying cases of Angkor from him, he didn’t think he would have been in a fit state anyway to do the work. I had inspected the damage, due to the two gaping holes that were about the size of my hand, there was certainly need of fitting a new tyre, he more than likely would not stock one anyhow for this bike. So now I ask the shop keeper for beer and if he would like to join me in a can or two. My partner was busy and enjoying the time chatting too his wife, she said we can leave the bike here inside, but there is nowhere here or around for us to stay, now the darkness of the night was drawing in. Yes, with no more options, I was back to hitching once more. That is if anyone drives past, the road was so quite now.
Time seemed slow, and I was on my second can, headlights in the far distance, and coming closer, we got out in the road a little way trying to wave the truck down to stop, the driver was having none of it and drove on by. Shit a 3rd beer then, my lady bought me out a pot noodle, it was appreciated has it was getting a little cold out there now. We sat on the raised platform of the bamboo pagoda outside, were I placed the beer down and tucked into the warm pot of delight that could be my only meal of tonight before I sleep for the night where I am sat. In this kind of situation, you have to make the best of what you have, and all we had was, not very much. I have the mind that we don’t have any control of such now, and what will be will be. I am still tackling the hot noodles, but they are spicy too, turning to her I said if a truck comes go out in the road alone and show the driver a bit of leg like on the Benny Hill show, then when he stops, I’ll grab the bag. She had no idea what I was talking about, another truck went by, so was the time about 10pm now. My lady was feeling the cold chill of the night air, putting on more cloths from the rucksack, soon it was time for the waterproof coat it was raining lightly, if the rain was to turn heavy, we would have problems. Lights again heading our way, I walked onto the road there were two cars approaching I waved my arms, flagging them down hoping they would stop. The first one did, alongside us, with the other one pulling up over the road, we explained the situation, the driver said it was up to his customer, he was the driver of the taxi with a fare from Sihanoukville going to Koh Kong. The passenger was a very attractive Chinese lady, she said OK. There was a little commotion with the two drivers at this point, when in the car the driver explained he was sorry that he had to charge us $10 for the fare even that the young lady had hired the taxi. I understood it was because of the other driver’s greed, but it did not matter because of our situation I would have expected to pay, now the bomb holes were back once again.
But this time we were doing fine it was not nearly has bad this time, but I wonder how long it will take to do the repairs, would the surface be allowed to get like that once again, problem is once the surface is broken it lets the water in and under the road and then there is no stopping it from just coming apart, that was a year ago, now it was starting again, but then again it is toward the end of the wet season.
Now we had come to the downhill towards the 4th bridge of Tatai. There was no road surface here, it had been washed away by the rains and the heavy-laden trucks had helped it along its way also putting in large ruts too, difficult on the moto, picking the best way and trying not to slide on the gravel now too darkness was drawing in. Over the last bridge and not much road up the other side, I was riding slow the rest of the way into Koh Kong, we would happily dine at my Khmer friend’s restaurant at the end of the first leg of the journey. Tomorrow is the beginning of a new day.
Have a good one.
Kahuna thank you and other readers too on reading and giving me feedback on the moto journeys, it would be nice to do plenty more rides in the Kingdom, I have actually done my fare share over the years on a assortment of different moto's, from my first one a Honda 250 water-cooled to even a Honda Scoopy mini 50cc believe it or not, the latter proved so comfy when I followed the river Mekong on its riverbanks where possible from Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham again with roads washed away. Maybe I will be able too remember those rides and type them out.Kahuna wrote: ↑Sun Dec 15, 2019 11:59 pm Thanks for the great read Andy but now I am waiting for Part 2. A mate of mine is riding his bike up from Australia next year and I'll get him to read your story. He won't be that surprised by some of the conditions as he has ridden in SE Asia before but will be grateful for the heads up on places where the road turns to holes joined by bitumen and the stops you mentioned along the way.
Have a good one.
I do hope too, that some of the journeys will be helpful for other riders wishing to look around the countryside.
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- you Andy.
Writer, adventurer and thinker - tick tick tick
oh, and specialist lotus flower photographer
ps, Please don't get me wrong AKK-47, but i suspect you suffer from the too-much-thinking genetic disfunction.
I know this can be a terrible cross to carry, but by morphing that into your writing you have turned this torturing affliction into a wonderful gift. Thanks mate, keep going...
It's not a choice of bike for everybody that is for sure, and I don't doubt your words Fitz for one minute, it was proved to be possible on one of those past trips, on road 48 towards Koh Kong, but that road was excessive and extreme conditions for any motor vehicle. I had actually decided to buy the type of bike because it is quite nimble and that alone appealed to me, first it was only going to be just a run around, not really the plan to do any distance, more for a Sunday run, or at least when I had a day off. I would ride up the hill on the concrete road the Chinese had purposely built for access to the hydro dam, the scenery is worth seeing from up there.
The main reason to buy a new bike was the new law, being only to register a new bike in ones own name, the cost of buying a new motorcycle certainly came into play, at the time Honda main dealers were charging for the 2017 model $2,500+ at the time, or you could get a dream for the same or a little less, especially on the 2016 (unregistered model), bullet proof I know and easy repaired, but alas the semi auto did not appeal at the time, nether did a auto, I wanted a clutch more then anything at the time. More so, I didn't want the large expense what went with the genuine Honda from the main dealer. I went to a independent dealer and took the risk on a new 2017 model from Singapore, Plate and card in my name plus the tax paper showing import duty paid, one years warranty on parts, and two free helmets, total price $1250.
I rode it back to Koh Kong, making a start to running it in, a journey of 395km. I thought maybe it would be up to the job of touring, and touring with a little fun element too. It run well to be fair, even more so, and much better than expected, then again time would tell.
https://www.totalmotorcycle.com/motorcy ... Honda-Grom
I am no writer that is in no doubt. Photographer again no, tick tick tick at times we all do, adventurer yes, and many on this forum to have travelled to this far away land. Genetic disfunction you had me reading up, and deeply on the subject I must say.SternAAlbifrons wrote: ↑Mon Dec 16, 2019 5:24 am Legend!
- you Andy.
Writer, adventurer and thinker - tick tick tick
oh, and specialist lotus flower photographer
ps, Please don't get me wrong AKK-47, but i suspect you suffer from the too-much-thinking genetic disfunction.
I know this can be a terrible cross to carry, but by morphing that into your writing you have turned this torturing affliction into a wonderful gift. Thanks mate, keep going...
The simple answer is just keeping busy, and to enjoy something helps in this way.
Thank you for the kind words SternAAlbifrons, if you, and readers enjoy, and the possible information is helpful, or just even a read to pass the time, good or bad, my time is then worthwhile.
I was to stay in Koh Kong for some time on this visit, a week in total, catching up with some old friends, it was very enjoyable overall to see some of them, also to know they were mostly doing fine, in a way time had moved us on, still it was nice to talk of old times when we lived there and what had been happening in my absence. I had a little bit of sorting out too, of what I had left behind when I had put an end to the business, that was about a year ago, time seems to have gone way too fast in that period, and not feeling to me like it was that long ago. I enjoyed the bar restaurant at times, and made some new friends along the way with some of the expat customers, and local people of Koh Kong. The bar was never intended, I rented the place from a high-ranking police officer and ended up making some refurbishment to the property, filling walls and skimming them in preparation for decorating. He was certainly happy with the work taking place on his property, he sent for his son who worked in Thailand who came over and renewed all the electrics, he was an electrician. Better him then me having set too this death trap they call the electrical supply. I suppose to be honest I was just keeping myself busy, no different from any other time it seemed for me, I thought by doing so, that type of way the idea may come along with what to do with the place, that is to say in the way of business, then also what would I be doing myself soon, doing now what I have partly done has my own trade for many years may give me an idea or answer, but this time like many other times, it seemed it was no more than that, a way of therapeutic meditation, but still it could result in some sort of an answer, of what to make of my time in some sense I actually enjoy what I was doing, but doing work like this for others does not really pay. I was hoping for at least a twinkling of an idea.
No, this time it wasn’t to be, like so many other expats I could not think of any alterative, has I would think of a kind of shopping outlet, being shop based, different to that of anyone else, not what other shops were doing in town. Ever wondered about what possibilities and opportunities there must be for someone to set up a shop and sell goods to the local public, this has to be due to the small place, it has not got the amount of expats to give you a steady, nor that of a continuous income, that has to be, to make things work on your behalf, you need the type of goods that will appeal to most and also sell. Result! No! You only have to take a look around you, and mostly anywhere and everywhere in a similar small town in Cambodia, and what do you see? Mostly the same product everywhere, the same type of shops selling the same items, even next door to each other, and then the same on the next street. But if you were to open the same, I bet you would not trade, why because the Khmer would not buy from you. I have known of quite a few go down this route of setting up shop for their girlfriends, more really to give them something to do than anything else. Khmers come then mainly because of curiosity, and asking questions, but they don’t want to buy, they have this deep-rooted thing that you have money, and they would rather buy from their own countryman.
There were possible alternatives I had, granted that I only lightly looked into, at the time having a good reliable and trusted supplier over the border, but that would unfortunately involve, the official and unofficial duty and customs people at the border too, and that would be only if an higher official would actually allow you to do such a thing, plus whatever rate they put upon your goods, you would more than likely, either have to bargain on the price given, pay or risk losing what you had. I knew at the time the only few local shops who sold import goods had 50% tax imposed on those items, but we should not forget they too are Khmer, and more than likely being a Barrang you would have an higher imposed rate put upon your goods, I don’t care too much for what is written, for that maybe seen has only words that just apply to themselves, I think that it’s more of the saying “whatever” in this type of case, you could put it down to added taxes if you wish to do so, it sounds a far better word than corruption. Although I think in a way and that of a more relaxed idea, in this country applies more unofficially in what you can and cannot do in the ways of work, this I know is what we can call an argumentative point, to some who would say there are no restrictions of what you may or may not do, but like their neighbours saying “If we can’t do it, you’re not going to do it”, here that is not exactly so, instead the way how it would be made to stop you doing something, that they did not want you to do, is make it too expensive for you to do in the first place, in ways where you could not possibly make yourself a profit, because all prior import involvement on your goods had been subjected to added monies beforehand, now making your venture not worth any more than only actually thinking about the possibilities of it, because you know the goods would be unbuyable, because of there now raised resale values to pass on to the prospective buyers.
When I was working on the property, I had a few westerners ask me when I was going to open the bar. I have never run or worked in a bar, and also being on the good side has a customer too, not being that of a big nor moderate drinker in any sense, and in that respect, I am not good for any bar and their profits. Anyways, it just kind of happened, the thing I was not going to do and that was open a bar. I took a trip to Sihanoukville to buy furniture, and stocked up with booze. I got some good advice asking questions on this forum, excellent answers from PDS Kiwi and other members on procedure of paperwork and permits. On application of my business licence my place had to be vetted, being that also the location was suitable for what I intended. It was passed and I was told to collect my licence in 3 working days. The Whisper Bar, named after my soft voice (that was because no one could hear me) good for a new barman would you not say. So now the new bar in town was officially open.
I would like firstly, to actually say it was an experience, good or bad it works both ways, more to be expected with what you are supplying too your customer, drink can cause them a problem and also yourself, running a bar you will find the people good or bad or rather they will find you, in any situation being that of a customer you can walk away, being on the other side of the bar you have to now deal with that so called problem, that has now become your problem. It’s not that kind of job or living that suits everyone and I have seen many people come and go from this work, some do well in business and some fail. Very few other businesses and expats will support you, many of them will try to ruin you, that unfortunately is the nature of people who see you succeeding when they, themselves may not be. If you have the outlook of setting up such a venture and you have Khmer friends, don’t expect them to drink at your bar, they may mix with expats in the big cities but not too much outside, so look upon the expat community and tourist base, being now your living, and that bread can be sparsely buttered at times.
Most expats seem to pull down the bar scene and what you are trying to achieve, even though it could be of some benefit for them, not just to have a drink. But being something for the expat community, somewhere of a social meeting place where they can enjoy company of others being in the same position of themselves. It would be possible for them to use a bar being of something in their own interests such as a walking/running cycling, book exchange club, quiz nights, the list is so large and beneficial.
It also helps if you have something that appeals to your customer, sports I did for sometime due to the demand of the showing of football, I was so glad when another bar opened and took over this, because it is no fun staying open till 3am in the mornings left with the one customer who has come from his fevered bar in town there having downed ten cool beers, and been nursing his can of Angkor for the last hour that you served him, he then starts to jibber on complaining that the beer I served to him was warm, and can he have a glass with plenty of ice, after his team just lost and the referee should be shot for disallowing the goal, now for the following hour he can complain to you about the game and all of his worldly troubles, plus how shit your bar is, tomorrow night he may come round and half-heartedly apologise for his actions, or he will have spread the word you are the biggest shit in town and all should boycott your bar.
We then made authentic Indian food and put on the menu, we also had a weekly curry night, many other bar owners would come for this, also giving them the opportunity to have a get together. I found it actually a good turn out and mostly an overall enjoyable evening.
$5 with chapatis and one free beer
I never advertised the bar for sale, although word had travelled around that we were giving it up. I did have a few people call with interests. I told them about the business and answering there questions, I said that I could ask the landlord to come round and draw them up a new agreement in their name, also if they wished I would stay around for a month free of charge to show them my suppliers, help them obtain the licence and work permit and what other papers they may need, service from myself free of charge. The things in the bar, fixtures and fittings, bar, shelves and furniture, sink unit and worktops, cooker and gas bottle, pans and utensils, plates, bowls, cutlery, glasses, some spirits, display bottle cooler, fridge, ice box, microwave and blender, music system, 46” LCD, Wifi with 5 month remaining, generator. Total cost $600. No one ever took my offer.
Before we made our move, much delay was because of transport, or rather the lack of anyone willing to move us over to Kampong Cham originally. This was mainly that most were busy working for the Chinese now, and being paid well, the knock-on effect was the ones who would move me wanted minimum payments of $350 only to Phnom Penh with conditions attached, being they would not take our goods to the apartment but dump them off in the centre of the city.
In-between times I took a place in Phnom Penh and ended the tenancy of the room in Kampong Cham moving our things via a few trips by regular minibus service to the capital. Then with luck we hired a minibus in Koh Kong to take our things and ourselves to the new place in the suburbs of Phnom Penh at the cost of around $100.
I must say I have never seen Koh Kong as quiet on this visit. I would think that may have something to do with the new Thai laws on the border crossings, and the clampdowns on foreigner’s rights of stay in their country. Not the amounts of expats making border runs like in the year’s past. Western business being the worst affected and I would have thought the one or two hotels that mainly catered for their sleeping needs. That in its self would trouble me slightly, I called at an hotel I have used in the past, last time that I stayed was when my neighbours put the large tent outside that covered the front of the bar and street, being at the time for them to remember a past relative, we was invited and we attended, We did get on well with the family next door, the farther worked for the business licencing department, his brother was the towns local tax officer too, the two older sons had government jobs in different provinces. I had the bar closed in respect, also we would have not have had any customers, but I drew the line when the younger son started to pull out the speaker cabs, that would be in preparation for extreme loud music, that would go on late in the evening. So, I booked a room in the newly built hotel in the middle of the high street for a good night’s sleep, or at least avoiding a headache.
First bike I had in Cambodia
But this time on arriving at the same hotel, I pulled up on the moto and my partner asked one of the staff sitting in the doorway if they had a room, he replied “yes” with also “the Barang will pay more”, we then just rode away. I do know the owner well, but didn’t bother to call on him, thinking if he wanted to put people in charge like this, up to him. So, onto the next, it wasn’t like any of them were full, quite the opposite, but that’s when prices can get higher, to make up for the loss. The next hotel on the list I had never stayed and came with past recommendation’s, I asked the price at reception. $15 per night, I booked 3 nights for an aircon room with LCD TV and Wifi.
Fishing boat Koh Kong
The following morning, I was too be woken by a friend and neighbour adjacent to our old business, the owner of the massage shop behind us, there were 5 massage shops around the vicinity of the bar. Their she stood a beautiful girl arm outstretched with the cup of coffee she had bought for me from my favourite coffee shop in town, it was most welcoming first in the morning. I managed to get showed and discreetly dressed while they sat together, Khmer way on the floor chatting and eating breakfast. Soon our friend was on her way, I said I would call later in the week, and we could have dinner together.
We set off on the bike into the countryside to see our old friends and about my tools, the road was in bad a bad state of repair on leaving that part of town, I had never seen it like that before. It was not one road on its own, from what is known by expats has the Fat Sam’s roundabout, and all the way up Chicken farm road, and the parallel road though the Muslim village were very much the same, all riddled with potholes. At the top end of these two roads there is bare land with many marked out housing plots for sale, and there had been at the time before we moved, some time before the move I was actually interested in one of the plots, it seemed more fitting to have a permeant fixture to do something with instead of dead rental monies, even if there was some small hidden risk. We even had talks about one of the plots for sale, and the price was agreed, the papers would be sorted in lots, that is to say when there was a group of buyers, wait for the but! Overnight the sellers went back on their sale price and now it was triple the cost if we still wanted to buy, the answer was defiantly not. Later we were to find out the seller had actually sold or taken deposits for the other plots she had for sale, the plot we were interested in at the time, now has a new road laid across it. That’s another reason to add to my list that at times Khmer business has a roundabout way of avoiding the true purpose. One more example, I opened my first bank account several years ago in Battambang, the staff at the time could not have been more helpful, at that time I asked if they had a branch in Koh Kong, the reply was “Yes Sir” all good, that is until I visited Koh Kong and their bank did not exist. Once again I was at the branch in Battambang the same staff were very eager to help and answer any questions, one question I had was about the branch the same young lady had told me about, she said “I did not lie Sir, we hope to have one there soon”. Maybe she thought they would have built one before I arrived there, who knows but sometimes you must read between the lines. Smile and take things as a pinch of salt.
We looked at another place where there were more land plots for sale on the way, going down towards the mouth of the river and the sea, not much happening just now with sales, so no electricity or water, no sign of sewerage or waste pipes, it again could be hit or miss dependent on how many buyers and builders too when things happen. Like once being in a village in the far north of the country, there had to be ten households ask for power and pay their deposits before the company would connect them, and the homeowners had too supply their own cable from the supply point to their property, this means you could be waiting a long time to get connected to the power grid, mainly many being peasant farmers, tending to their work in daylight hours, and using the battery method in the evenings, at the time I remember you could by a kit in town, consisting of the car battery, solar panel and inverter, wired light and a small LCD TV for @$140+ depending on system. That became the choice for who could afford. Because of the open space we met some young Khmers with their Hawks, wish we had got there a little earlier to see them fly.
Entering the fishing village of our friends we were to be welcomed by my ladies’ dog. “Yes, we had bought him chicken”, we usually do from the same cart seller near the market in town. Joe Jo, is now known has Barang Sky due to his welcome of me and not leaving my side while on visiting. This time was a little different with a female dog on heat in the vicinity. No matter, but he is better off in the small village with Papa, our friend and woodworker, he takes good care, and the dog enjoys the freedom. What will happen later we will have to see, this is because Papa and Mama, she being Thai, like many others being of mix marriage in the area, have sold other plots of land too, but a distance from their home, now are waiting for their move over the border, along with family members to enjoy their retirements, good has come for some in these new times, for them too, but they seem so settled living there for many years, and very complacent to move at their ages, both being well into their 70s.
We had always been welcomed well, we sat upon the floor, inside the old wooden house looking towards the scenic setting, fishing boats moored in the protection of the mangroves, onwards from there the many waterways where fishermen will work for their daily catch, beyond is that of the open ocean. I noticed the new pagoda at the front that Papa had built replacing the old one, very good work too, at this stage I did not want to rush into, talking about my tools, it could wait, we would be here for a few days or more.
Mama makes very good country Thai food, but very spicy and ingredient’s that are “let’s say” from around, foraged or hunted. So, the likes of some foods can be beyond my tastes, and this is excepted so, there will be rice and some bits I can manage, or I can always eat the chicken since the dog is busy elsewhere. I then get a little tap off Papa to remind me to sit correctly with my legs crossed properly, and no slouching because they are cramped or numb, he can just glance toward me at times and I shuffle back in to position, but now passing me one of his hand rolled herbal cigarette’s, is a sure way that will help me relax more in this posture for some time, at least until the end of the meal, then it will be more acceptable to sit where I am a little more comfortable.
My lady shouts out her friend’s name, there is a frenzy of excitement in the neighbouring house, she comes around with her usual large smile, and my normal order of Cambodian beers, and not forgetting the small bottle of local whisky for Mama, it is only medicinal purpose for her, although she gets merry at times. There is one thing to be said I have always been treated fairly here in this village and never put upon, if I buy a beer for anyone, one is always returned too. They also are not connected to the mains electricity although other houses are, they still choose to use battery power, only using their own petrol generator to draw water, for he had laid water pipes through the village from the well to the house. It’s early to bed and early too rise, we bid a happy and respectful farewell, tomorrow we will see them again. Riding out of the village I can’t help but look up to the stars, the sky is full of them, once back on the main road I pull over to the roadside light a cigarette and just sit, star gazing for a time. How peaceful the night.
We had a crazy day at the hotel the next day, no Wifi so I went to enquire at reception. The answer no connection on that floor! Only now have on the second floor. “Okay” then may I change rooms to that floor, the lady handed me a key, we changed rooms, there was no Wifi signal to the room they gave me at the end of the corridor. I went down again to reception to explain the situation, asking if I could please take the room with the router outside, “that room is a twin” I said don’t worry, I don’t mind if it has a signal. Yes, it has, but it’s a twin room and you have a double, “the twin room is $15 more per night”. You have got to be joking I thought to myself, I have never heard of a twin room costing twice of what a double cost. We settled on $5 and that was hard work seeing if they had another double room and so on, like anyone I don’t like being ripped off. Later back in the room, someone is trying to open the door, I shouted “yes who is it” they did not answer or stop with trying to get the door open, I pulled the door open towards me, outside in the corridor must have been about 30 people, the corridor was full wall to wall with Chinese tourists, mostly OAPs with a small group pressed up in front of the door gazing toward me with a audience of onlookers, like I was in the wrong room, or it could have been their previous booked room, but being of the older generation on the evening time it was peaceful. It was not at all like my first encounter of these people, that was opposite, at the extreme where they would leave their room doors open, so they could carry on with the loud conversations until the early hours. Two more nights we moved hotel, and stayed about 4 days more at another place. Had drinks and dinner with friends, the massage girls took us to a new Khmer restaurant near the old bar, that had been taken over after we left, to be opened as a new massage shop, street 6 was always known has massage street long before I had opened my business. I even had the debt owed, paid back to me. We even had time to visit the beach and mangroves.
Papa did not like using the power tools, he did not trust them, it was me that used them to cut his wood and sanded it before I left, he just carried on like he did before, so no problem with taking my tools. But in the end, I sold them for a good price instead, better then arranging them to go to Phnom Penh buy bus, and being there too collect them.
The morning once again, now was the time! Let the journey commence. I had already checked over the bike and adjusted the chain the night before, I was thinking about trying for a minibus in the morning, but on second thoughts there are no people around, and I can’t be that fussed with bartering with them to get a realistic price, even more so if they have no customer.
We went to my Khmer friend’s restaurant, early for breakfast, also to say goodbye once again, he said when his lease comes to the end, he would try to get another place and carry on if possible, if not he and family would return to their home in Takeo Province. I wished him luck and bid him farewell for now.
We filled up on fuel on the way out of town, and once more was heading down road 48 weaving around the potholes. Tatai Waterfall would be now to our left and normally worth the visit.
We also knew the condition of the road now, so no stopping at our viewing point this time, with roads in this condition, there is also much activity, just beyond Tatai with a few roads I have not seen before, also a huge, looks like construction of a new road with trees felled of an over large clearance to make way for this development. Apologise also for not having a photo, but I once fell foul in the past of something very similar, were we watched a 3km road being built overnight, we followed the road in the morning to the end where there were buildings to the left and right, still without the windows installed, I know now that it was a new prison, we were approached by two large men saying to my partner if we had taken any photos with our phones they would smash them, telling us to go, we were not welcome. I did not need telling more than once, I knew that they meant what they were saying, it’s one of those situations when you don’t need a translator, on riding away she said they were Thai. I said they were angry Thai today. It’s remarkable how things happen here, sometimes it’s all or nothing, I’ll rephrase, it’s nothing, or all when big money is involved. I don’t come from a wealthy background just like many others of my age group, when we were in employment in the early days you could leave a job on Friday and have no problem starting a new one on Monday, then it all stopped we had hit a recession that would last for some years, companies were closing down, at the time we would do any work, “biting and batting” was our term, but you had to make ends meet. Khmer mainly won’t do that, if money is good, they will, if not forget it, being that it is not worth them doing. I have quite a few examples, but one was that I needed some sand, I went to a contractor, it was $4 per bag for the sand, “can’t do it rainy season” was his reply to me, but two days later he came to see me, want sand “I can get you” $10 per bag. Same when I went to the timber yard. I ideally wanted 10 lengths of wood, how much was one length I asked $9, good I want 10 lengths, total price $90. “No” he replied $214, It was now a KIP, that is a measurement of the overall wood, just a little under the size of a square metre. I said that did not make sense, now, he sat down and would not sell to me at any price. This is not the issue of charging me barrang price, this is how it is, we would have seen the higher price for the single length and a discount on the pack in our countries, but here it’s arse about face at times.
The road is good today, traffic wise that is to say, but mostly this road is never that busy and I want to make some headway today, but also being careful, we always keep in mind for the unexpected, that is a good word to sum up “the kingdom of wonder”. I have known people who have had small accidents, battered, cut and grazed was one young lady who one evening hit a dog that ran out in front of her bike, she was one of the Kampot girls, working at the massage shop in Koh Kong. I would go for a massage at the shop once a month, it was the place to go for a straight massage. All the girls that worked there came from Kampot, I was lucky to meet two of them years ago, when bump starting my old Honda water cooled 250 in the hotel carpark, the girls were sat out at the back of the shop, but soon came to my aid helping me push the moto. Others being ether drunk or hit by a drunk, either way you and I need to avoid such incidents. Up to now I have managed here, but it preys deeply on my mind, more so with holding no insurance (like that of many locals) but if I did, then I think the factors and odds, would lay heavily against my favour to get a pay-out, and limited again with the other person involved having no insurance.
I have seen accidents, and read of plenty, it seems were a barrang is involved, he is to blame. It’s just unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time! Or is it? Mostly I would say yes. But! Ever thought it is easy money for someone to have a mishap on the road with you, have you ever felt like you maybe a target, any one ever drove or rode directly at you? I had been run at directly by a car late one night in Kampong Cham town, there was me and two Khmer friends on their moto’s, there was a barrier placed in the middle of the road, to slow the traffic due to recent floods from the river, the car was oncoming, his side of the road past the barrier driving correctly on the right was clear and no obstacles in his/her path, then all of a sudden the car driver swerved and accelerated straight toward me, it took me by surprise and I quickly reacted and mounted the curb onto the pavement to avoid contact, and it was very close, the car sped off down the road. It was my two friends who said the driver could have money from me. Let’s, face it, once the police arrive at the incident you will more than likely be pulling dollar notes from your pocket, everyone is a winner, that is apart from yourself. Recently I was hit by a scooter with two young men then trying to gain more attention by carrying on about the traffic light being red I had passed, they creped across the lane, causing the bike to my left to brake (like me) and swerve around them, I had no swerve, because there was something to my right, I stopped inches before him, he manoeuvred and rode the scooter into me, has he was shouting at me, I said nice try and rode away, but it was a situation I knew could have turned nasty ether way but I did not want to stay in that position, if they wanted further issue they may have followed me, it was worth the chance that they didn’t at the time.
One other cause of an accident is mechanical failure, always take the time to look over your bike, you don’t have to be a mechanic to do a routine check, the mechanic can do the work for you, but you need just to know the basics, of what is working or not. We should know that things we rely on for our safe journey is working correctly, just a step up from what we learned when we were young and had a pushbike. Go-turn-stop, see, touch and listen, most of us have this skill. Are the tyres inflated, chain slack or tight, do the lights and indicators work, horn, oil in the engine, how does it sound and start. Fluid in the brake reservoir, pull the leaver and push the peddle, can you see the pads, and do they work?
I was talking with a friend who lives in Thailand about my front brake locking up solid on the front disc, the cause is usually air trapped in the fluid system, this was to happen when riding the dirt bike, being that of the first time, I wanted to take a look at the hydro dam near Koh Kong. The road is off to the left on the airport side of town, on the left and up the hillside, the road up there is that of concrete, and quite good surface, I recommend it for the views above the town. But that day on this occasion I was not going to reach the dam. I was only on a little outing from town what could possibly go wrong! The brake bound tight bringing me to a sudden halt. the fluid apparently had been affected by the heat, that I was to learn later, it’s something that would not come about normally at home in the climate of the UK.
He joked with me at the time, but sometime after I received a phone call, he had been in hospital for three days, written off his Yamaha R1, broke his collarbone and suffered gravel rash, due to the same failure I was talking to him about beforehand. Mostly the joking was of my unfortunate situation, “that of me in the middle of nowhere with no tool kit”. Like I said what can go wrong, always be prepared. I pissed on the disc, it steamed and was not the best of smells, but it was now free of its binding, but not for long, about 100m if that it was bound once again, how I wish I had a ten-mill spanner. So, this is Cambodia, and very hot, so drink plenty and don’t get yourselves dehydrated on your bike trips, but in this instance my bike needed the water more than me. It was my last bottle of water, but it got me a little closer in the direction of home, and like I said this is Cambodia, at the side of the road now were plenty of discarded plastic drinking water bottles, I gathered about 10 of them and filled them up from small pools near the roadside, be very aware that you may not be alone at such pools, there are lots of snakes cooling and hunting around or in them, always look carefully when approaching, last thing I wanted was to be bitten. Snakes are something I don’t like, and I have seen plenty of them here in Cambodia. I did get home that evening, and the lesson learnt, don’t leave without a simple toolkit.
More on the subject of snakebites -
Is there any antivenoms here? I had looked into this, with traveling into more remote areas, ever wondered if it happened, what would you do? Where would you go for treatment, I suppose it would also depend on where you would be in the country, but more so if any treatment or antivenom would be available, even looking at up to date
This trip in Koh Kong my lady was close to standing on this Malaysian Pit Viper just a little left he came out of the grass where I parked the bike.
articles and the Cambodian snake group on Facebook, and more so WHO I would question if treatment was available.
These are actually older articles I have put here; it may be better for people to research themselves on the facts of the situations now regarding treatment.
Although I think there has been headway made on the cashing in of antivenom from India, it worries me of people whom can put a life at risk to make themselves money - For more than a decade, Cambodia had been a dumping ground for inefficacious, non-specific Indian antivenoms that are often poor quality and carry an unacceptably high risk of producing potentially life-threatening adverse drug reactions.
Neang Thy, a herpetologist with the Ministry of Environment who also works for Fauna and Flora International, estimates that nationwide, hundreds of people die each year.
“I think more people die from snakebites than landmines,” Mr. Thy said, adding that the widespread belief that consuming animal horn can cure snakebites also led to many deaths in the countryside.
Potholes were being nicely avoided and now being in a smooth rhythmic way, swaying from left to right, we had now travelled past the second bridge at Trapeang Rung in the pleasant mornings sun. Then the heavens open, many times without warnings, also so unpredictable in this area, I spotted a roadside shelter to my left and pulled over out of the rain. We quickly joined a young family sitting in there as the rain came on more heavily, we had a little fruit left (apple and orange) and sheared it among the family and ourselves while we would sit and wait out the worst of the rain. Now there is another question or thought, what about clothing for these motorcycle rides? Do you bring it with you from overseas? I would recommend that you do if you know you would be traveling around by bike, being if that is your purpose. I actually did not, being it was not my initial intention. I wish I had some of the bike clothing I sold when I left my own country, my AGV helmet especially, being a rated and good fitting, boots and gloves would not have been out of place, and one of my good material jackets, possibly a full waterproof suit. I have a Gortex jacket I use, I had used it in England for walking and rock-climbing in past years, it kept me bone dry in the mountains of Snowdonia and the lake district, but not so much here. Yes! There is much to say about the protection of good clothing on bike journeys, even if only giving one’s self, peace of mind. I remember back on another journey on this same route being caught in a tremendous downpour, first we pulled over towards some trees giving a little shelter, but not enough, we proceeded on knowing the rain was not about to give up, this weather was set in. Not worth going forward because it was going into the unexpected, we found some shelter some miles back the way we had come with us both remembering a kind of shop/restaurant type of shack. We arrived and the place was in what you could call semi-darkness being that the owners would have not expected any customer to turn up. I managed to get a coffee and we ate pot noodle, striping some clothes off and wringing them out like I had just washed them by hand in a bucket of water, that was in-between mouthfuls of hot noodle that was slowly warming our drenched bodies. Getting us dry to wear from the backpack and checking that the electric gear and computer were dry, re-raping them in plastic, assuring their working order for when needed. The people not asking us to leave because of the weather, it had not eased at all, but you could sense they wanted to shut up shop now it was the hours of darkness. I asked if they had any plastic spotting a large black plastic bag covering some goods, they only had that one, so we had the one, cutting holes for my head and arms, I repacked the bag and secured it to the bike has we both got on, slipped the black bag over our heads and put my arms through the holes, helmets on, thanking the people and bidding farewell on our way in darkness and heavy rain, her arms tightly grasping my body has we rode on, but warmly.
Now the rain is easing we decide to emerge from the roadside shelter were my partner enjoyed some conversation with her countryfolk, raincoats on and we are on our way once more, weaving around potholes. What I enjoy about the so-called moto journeys is the freedom and views you experience; the situations and interruptions may tend to bring you closer to the people and life they live here. What may we add to the journey, take the views, along the route you take, in general out into the countryside traffic is less and the housing and population is less dense then in the cities and towns, roadsides are still scattered with empty water bottles and litter, you would think education would help to stop this, or at least limit littering of their beautiful countryside. I would say if they found a good resealing purpose for drinking water bottles, were they are worth money like the drinks can products, that would do the trick, let’s face facts you don’t see road verges full of the peoples favourite tipple, Angkor beer cans, it can be safely said anything of value will not be discarded, it may have been a consideration to not use plastic but sell water by the tin.
So not so much in the line of hedgerows like in my country, and they have been on a decline over the years, from a young age I can remember picking the seasonal fruits, Blackberries, how well they would taste in mums apple pie, Raspberry and Gooseberry, the latter not preferred due to the taste being bitter and somewhat sharp. Trees, even with their decline in the great forests of this land we still see plenty, although what is the cause of the decline, cutting way for farming land, has population grows, there will be more need to feed itself, so this is only what we could call necessary progress of tomorrow’s production. The demand and high price for sort after the valued hardwoods of the forests from other countries, this is not necessarily the common farmer or referred here as peasant farmers, it would be that of more organised, people “in the know” certainly ones with buyers and connections. I have had many past moto rides in the north of the country, also lived there, it’s more blatant what is happening when you see saw mills lining the Mekong river banks. Also, the resin from the Mreah prew phnom tree in the Cardamom was popular being that of producing safrole oil, being harvested to make the drug ecstasy. I read somewhere that someone bought a small bottle for $30 not that far out of Koh Kong, the destination was Canada at the time, with them being large producers of the drug in the lucrative but illegal market, that small bottle was worth $3000. It’s a far cry from my country’s apple and pear trees.
https://www.pri.org/stories/2009-08-30/ ... ed-one-one
Ecstasy (MDMA) Threatens Rare Cambodian Tree
https://www.treehugger.com/corporate-re ... -tree.html
Poaching: a side-industry
Workers who distil the oil deep in the jungle also often rely on poaching rare animals (tigers, pangolins, peacocks, pythons and wild cats) for food or for extra income on illegal wildlife markets. Poaching threatens the livelihoods of the estimated 12,000-15,000 hunter-gatherers who live in the wildlife sanctuary.
Having typical Khmer lunch down near Sra Ambel with the owner complaining that his wife, who should be cooking for the customers, has been out shopping for a long time. I reassured him that his preparation of the meal was adequate. We actually had most of the table full of many kinds of dishes, sitting in the shade of the grass roofed pagoda, and I do like the places (more so my partner) that have hammocks, so one can relax during or after the meal. So, what of our next move, it was time for discussion, the thing is I can’t say how the rest of the journey would be, are the roads in fair condition, will the traffic be light, or will it rain once more, questions that I would like the answers towards too, the journey from here was just about 100k to the destination of Kampot. It was another one that we had travelled together before some time ago.
Could she travel any more today, or would we go for the hotel around the corner on highway 4. The choice I will give to her, last thing I want is a passenger who is uncomfortable, unhappy or complaining.
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