BootsnAll Travel Network

Cambodia unplugged.

With the strike and no functional electronics, I found that I was free to wander without the rigueur of being a travel channel flunky. One of the reason for coming to Cambodia from the north instead of through Thailand was that I would be able to visit some more remote types of areas.

Stung Treng was my first stop and for some reason it really felt familiar. I figured out that with the combination of river, river promenade, market and food stalls, family evenings in the park, and a nice hotel, it was just like being back in Kampot when I crossed along the south. I ended up staying a few nights as I was worried about the problems with the bike. I had to re-do the total front brake lever, brackets, and cables as I was using a set-up from a Honda Wave scooter and my replacement stuff was not all the right matching parts. The wobble was still there but I figured that it was the bearings and I would have them replaced when I got to Phnom Penh. At higher speeds the wobble went away so it was manageable. The only doubts were that the whole thing would come apart and kill me. Oh well

Even though the bike wasn’t a 100% I felt comfortable enough that I could still get around okay.

Instead of heading straight down to Phnom Penh, I figured that I would make a slight detour and head east to the Ratanakiri province to swim in a lake and take a nap as lakes are usually pretty good napping territory. The town I stayed was Ban Lung and was neighbor to the circular crater lake of Boeng Yeak Lom. I spent the morning and evening just wandering around the lake area as well as catching naps in the little rest areas. It was a nice step off the normal trail with only a couple of tourists seen in the three days that I was there.

It was nice returning back to Stung Treng and having familiarity but I figured it was time to keep moving so I followed the Mekong as it wove its way south.

Kratie is about 150kms south and is another tranquil river town where the tourist thing to do involves a lot of grabbing a seat along the Mekong river and watch either the world go by or the sun go down. One thing of interest which makes it a tourist stopover is dolphins. Just up river from Kratie is the home to the rare freshwater Irrawaddy river dolphin. Along this stretch as well as at the Laos side of the border are deep pools where these dolphins habitate. I’ve seen dolphins all over the world but you gotta take a look. I went to the tourist section to find a little park and a view point over the river. At the base is a little dock where tourist boats wait to take the bus loads of tourists out on the river to view the dolphins up close. I kind of fell into a situation where I got to see the dolphins without having to pay the incredibly inflated entrance cost. It was a bit of a ride to the area so I parked my bike by a sugar cane juice stand and had a sit down. After a sit down I took a walk over to a little viewing point thinking that it was an overview station where you can get a look but at a real distance. As I was standing there I got to see a couple of the gray mammals breach the surface. It was pretty much what I remember about the pink dolphins of the Amazon, the ones that would swim by the boats in Africa, and the canal swimmers that came through the Keys. Luckily they popped up just as I got there as a security guard came over and said that I needed a ticket. I thought it was interesting enough of a place to have a sit down and shouldn’t cost very much as I wasn’t interested in taking a boat ride or going down closer to the water. Besides, the money supposedly goes to support the Dolphins habitat. When I went to the ticket booth they wanted something like $7US for a ticket to go where I was at and $10US to take a boat ride. What the hell. No thanks. I got to see the dolphins, check.

It was here where doing an inspection of Sasha I realized the cause of the wobbling. When I and again when the tire repair guy put the back tire back on the rim the bead did not seat properly causing the tire to be out of round. The way I could tell is that there are little lines etched around the bead where you can eyeball the tire to make sure it is seated correctly. A $1 service and I had the tire unmounted, old oil used to lubricate the rim and the tire put back on correctly. That however did not fix the problem. It still wobbled. I was perplexed. I figured that possibly driving with the out of round tire had caused the suspension to wear out and making the bearings go bad. I figured I could make it to Phnom Penh (PP) and could get it sorted out there.

From Kratie I had two options. I could head farther east to the hilltop area of Mondulkiri which is known for a cooler climate (great napping) but I ended up vetoing the idea as I had quite a wide area I wanted to cover and did not want to get another visa.

I chose to head farther south to Kompong Cham. This one was definitely one of those where the destination takes back seat to the journey. There is a good route where you travel alongside the Mekong and at some point cross over to the other side and finally arrive in Kompong Cham. The route was a flashback to the rice fields of Vietnam because I don’t know how but following a huge ass river like the Mekong just isn’t as easy as it sounds. At one point I thought I was following the river valley as you can’t necessarily see the river the whole time but if you keep the open air sections (no trees) close by, the river usually is there. Well, I took some wrong term and followed what turned out to be a valley of corn and the river disappeared. I also missed the river boat cross over and ended up taking the local paths the whole way down on the east side passing through many villages and huts as I trial and errored my way south. One thing I learned is that the Minsks handle sand really well.

From Kompong Cham it was a quick jont down to the capital city of Phnom Penh.


One response to “Cambodia unplugged.”

  1. Karie says:

    Glad to see you still love those nanny naps 😉

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