Saturday, February 22, 2014

Getting into Cambodia

Monday Dec 16. BKK Thailand to Sisophon Cambodia. 325 km
The night before, Charlie, Oli and I planned to get breakfast at the hostel then get on the road. I woke up at 6:30 so I could pack my bike and meet them for breakfast at 8. After a good breakfast we started off. We were so worried about the BKK traffic but we got out of town surprisingly easy. There are many bridges that you can ride to bypass over the intersections. Each one of these has a "No Motorcycles" sign.. but the scooters were using the bridges so we thought we could also. We would play "No hablo thai no hablo engles" if we got pulled over. But we never did and soon we were getting close to Cambodia and the Poipet border crossing. On the Thai side of the border, many people ask if you want to buy a Cambodian visa. I never trust these people. Cambodia is Visa on arrival so why risk buying from some guy in Thailand? Leaving Thailand was easy enough. We just had to show our import documents and passport. Cambodia side was straight forward also. 1 month tourist visa is $30. We just had to wait in line to get passports stamped for about 45 min. After we got our passports stamped, we met 2 guys on BMWs from Singapore. They told us they had not been let into the country by the Cambodian customs because they did not have the correct paperwork. Oli and I decided went into the Customs office while Charlie stayed with the bikes. Once in the office, it was clear the Customs officials had no idea what was going on. They told us we needed a document from the government. Oli and I had no idea about this so we said "Give us the document and we will fill it out". But they said we needed to apply for it before hand. Oli and I both replied, "The Official Cambodian website says nothing about this". Then I proceeded to show them import documents form Russia, Mongolia and Japan. They basically knew that we were coming in no matter what. So they took a photo copy of our registration, stamped it and handed it back to us. I'm not sure what this will do.. but I guess I'll show the border when I go into Laos with the bike if they give me troubles. Oli and charlie have gone into Loas since then and I haven't heard any difficulties. Once we were back on the bikes it started to rain. The road got so slick that I spun the rear tire while trying to pass a car at about 70 km/h. It was one of those "butt pucker" moments where you think that was a close one. Later Oli said he had the same thing happen.. even with Charlie riding 2 up. I decided to stay the night in Sisophon so I could go south the next day and maybe try to see the mountainous forest in the south west of Cambodia. Oli and Charlie were continuing on to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat the next day. We said goodbye and see you in Malaysia or something. Keep in touch. $15 got me an amazing room. It would be a $150 room in any city in Europe or US and at least a $60 room in BKK. I ate some spicy stir fry pork and rice accompanied by a Angkor Beer. I put so much spice on that meal I had to get icecream after. I love when my nose runs from a good hot meal. Cleanse out all the crap when you blow your nose.. but you get some funny looks from the other people in the restaurant.

Storm over rice patties. 

Oli and Charlie on their Atwin. 

Wet slippery pavement

Dec 17. Sisophon to Phnom Penh. 362 km.
The Restaurant I ate at the night before drew me back. I tend to return when I know it is good. The $1.50 noodle soup would hold me most of the day. It wasn't far south of Sisophon when the road turned to crap. I went from a nice ride in the country to dakar mode. Standing up riding the potholes like woopty woops trying to keep the front tire from hitting hard. Using the throttle and the suspension. The traffic would always go to one side or the other to avoid the big holes. After 10 km of this, I heard a bang and some scraping sounds. I felt the rear tire kick up. When I looked back, I saw my skidplate bouncing along the ground. I was lucky though, I didn't go down when it came off. It could have been very bad. I turned around and picked up my skidplate. It turns out the aluminum bracket that the plate was bolted to broke on both sides. Recently in Japan both holes had stripped so I drilled them out. So it was easier to put the bolts through. I think this allowed for the bolts to put pressure on one side of the aluminum causing it to fail. At this point I had a choice to make. Ride into the mountains without a skidplate, on a stator that is soldered.. Or go to Phnom Penh where I'd be flying out of in a few days. I knew I would be leaving the bike there and I already had parts shipped to my sisters place in Hawaii.
Traffic getting into PP was horrible and so was the road. Many potholes and puddles. I decided not to avoid them in order to get by trucks, buses, scooters and tuk tuks. There is a hotel called "California 2" where I decided to stay for the next few days. The owner is an expat who has been living in Cambodia for the last 15 years. He has done a crap load of exploring on a Honda Baja 250. He was able to give me GPS points for every ancient temple and bridge he had found in his explorations. A few minutes after arriving I heard some noise outside. The owner and a few of the wait staff ran outside to watch. The opposition leader was protesting with all his followers. For about 15 minutes a parade of cars, scooters, bikes and people walking moved by. People shouting, singing, changing, beating drums, blowing horns, and yelling into bullhorns. They were happy to see us taking pictures. They wanted the publicity.
The next day I was riding around town and I barely made it past the start of this madness. I was lucky. Getting blocked by them would mean a 15 minute wait.. better just to sit in a cafe for a few and have a coffee.


After my skidplate took a ride down the street. 

Broken mounts.

Choose your meal. 

Ginger chicken


Kids playing with kites.

Osha approved I think.

Opposition leader

For the next few days I basically hung out and tried to prepare myself mentally to go back to the US. It had been almost a year and a half since I left the states behind. I was excited to see the family but I was glad I was not going back to the mainland. Not yet. Not ready. I dropped my bike off at a shop to store for the next couple months and hoped in a taxi to the airport. 3 flights and a couple days later I would be with family.

My friends John and Ana. They have been traveling a long time also. 

See their blog

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