Entering Cambodia after an easy border crossing we drove first to the north, Ban Lung. The countryside looked immediately very different to us… more flat, dry and dusty; no forest as far as you can look and all along the street where signs not to leave the road because of mines. In Ban Lung we spend the morning on the market, exploring the local food and habits… and learning our first words in Khmer. Actually it was very surprising how many people do speak view words of English!
When we left for a daytrip around Ban Lung we recognized quite quick what we heard already before: the roads on the map or displayed at the GPS are there somewhere but keep on changing and mostly they do end somewhere in the middle of nowhere… just disappearing into many little tiny trails where you can just choose which direction could fit best with the compass and after the next corner you end up into a banana plantation, a forest, a river or a field full of tree stumps. Asking people for the direction to the next village about 4 km away we mostly looked into surprised friendly looking faces, shrugging shoulders or starting internal discussions ;-) After 7 hours completely sweated and close to dawn we decided to skip our planned route. We went back most of the part to reach the main road again. We enjoyed the sunset at the volcano lake, had the first taste of Khmer Amok (a delicious curry pot) and had a gooooood sleep at the end of the day ;-)
Our next destination was Kratie at the Khong River once again. About 90% of the road was boring highway which is partially still under construction. The scenery changed as soon as we reached the Khong and the road became narrower through little villages. Once more we were facing the problem with our panel holder when we took them off: broken. We found a place to get it welded. Next morning just when we put on the panels it broke down at the other side: Bravo!!! A little bit frustrated we went back to the shop, got it welded and asked them to stabilize as well the last corner which was not broken yet. This we got as a sign to stay one day longer to get a rest and relax.
The most interesting and lovely part of driving we had on the way from Kratie to Kampong Cham along the riverside mostly on a tiny narrow dirt road. All in all it is not so easy here to avoid the main roads or to reach more remote places. The infrastructure is not there yet and you always risk ending in dead ends or ending in mine areas. Therefor we did not enjoy that much driving through Cambodia compared to the other countries we went through.
Siam Reap (Angkor) was of course something like a must to go to. Again the ride up to there was more or less “boring”. Siam Reap is overloaded of tourists and has a completely different atmosphere to all other places we had seen before. We decided to get a Tuktuk driving us through Angkor to the main sightseeing points. We got picked up at 5pm and were happy about this decision because you do walk a lot over there, getting up and down hundreds of stairs. So we were always glad to see our Tuktuk waiting for us at the agreed points where we could leave our stock of water bottles and fruits. Indeed it is an impressive place but in the end of the day after 13 hours we recognized a one day visit is enough for us. Actually we had seen so many temple in remote places where we could run around just by ourselves and not with hundreds of other tourists… chatting with the locals or the monks. This is more how we like it ;-)
We reached Phnom Penh and unfortunately we have to find a new back tire here. The one we have currently is not in a real good condition anymore, showing some strange fractures which are becoming wider and wider every day. We do not have a real good feeling with that continuing until Bangkok. So we spend nearly the whole day getting around in shops and on the Russian market… Perhaps we will not get exactly what we wanted but we met nice people and they will do their best to find something for us!
Tomorrow morning we will go to the Thai Embassy to request for our visas. We will see how fast we can get it and how long we will stay here… We will not get bored for sure but we are looking forward to see smaller villages again after Seam Reap and Phnom Penh.