Okay lets start with the official tour report:
- Day 0: Early morning ride in Phnom Penh, 25km, EFI, EFIWA*, 10 / 10 (one of my coolest big city rides EVER!) – I will post a iMovie once I get to Bangkok
- Day 1: Phom Penh to Kampon Tom, 170km, EFI, EFIWA, 1 / 10 (one of my worst bike rides ever – 1 courtesy point because I didn’t get hit by a truck, tuktuk, ox or bitten by a dog)
- Day 2 Kampon Tom to Siem Reap, 149km, EFI, EFIWA (4/10 – decent ride but a never ending row of houses without any real countryside)
* EFI = every fuck*ng inch, every fuck*ng inch without alcoholic beverages (wondering what will be harder on this trip – decided this trip will be a big diet)
I will write a report covering the first 3 riding later this week.
But for now I will focus on the three rest days. As I said before Siem Reap is the gateway to Unesco World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat and Beng Mealea. Three rest days in a row usually is a precious „one-timer“ on TdA trips. My travel mates have been on the road for almost 5000km and now are 60% through the trip – so to them a three day break is a distraction from the bike that seems to be very welcomed.
For me this break has come early but on this particular trip just right. The first day was hard since I have barely ever cycled in the past 14 months – so the 170km on the road were LONG, DUSTY, HOT and HUMID and after 9h on the road (incl. breaks and picture stops my butt hurt like hell) and those two stages added to almost 320km so my butt felt sore like hell.
1st Rest Day: is very easy to sum up: I opened my hotel room door at about 5pm for the first time, went for dinner at the main market and then back to bed at around 10pm after I already fell asleep at a mediocre Khmer message. FULL STOP end of the story !
2nd Rest Day: I was slowly getting in that „sightseeing mood“ that is essentiell when you are at a place like Siem Reap. We left early in the morning at 7am and I joined German Michael N. (one of my travel mates from Africa), Marco v. H. and an US American TdA Veteran Kendy. Those three had ordered a TUKTUK the night before and including the official guide there was no more space on the TUKTUK. But they offered me to join them anyway, I just had to ride my bike.
First stop around 7:30 was the Angkor Wat. It really is amazing because it really is as BIG as you might think ! I have seen amazing buildings (in Italy for example) before but this monument mainly built out of sandstone strikes through its decorative elements. The difference is that you really have to look close. The English term seems to be bas-relief (which obviously is French), I don’t even know the German term (Flachreliefs as I just learnt). There are galleries decorated by sandstone bas-reliefs 8ft high and 100yards wide narrating historic elements of the Khmer Empire. There is no end:
We were quite early, the main tourist invasion set in around 10am
Young Monk thats was hanging around pretty relaxed
This guy provided me with freshly filtered palm juice right outside of Angkor Wat – it was pretty touristy but yummie: with under 1 Dollar US it was still cheaper than the red product from Atlanta…
The Khmer Rouge left some marks at Angkor Wat when they started to hide in the jungle after Vietnamese liberation in 1979. There will be a blog entry on the Khmer Rouge genocide later on:
We then headed for lunch which turnt out pretty tasty and hot – salad in that „facon“ should be safe though (I hope!)
The 2nd stop was the so called „An Gelina Jo Lee“ temple. which is originally called Ta Prohm. I have never heard so often „An Gelina Jo Lee“ temple before because this temple was the scenery of Angelina Jolies first (?) Tomb Raider movie. This temple was amazing and the one hour that we spent at that sight could have easily been two ! This sight also confirmed my decision to spend the third and last rest day off the beaten track.
Lunch was extended to over one hour because one of those heavy tropical rains set in. I had papaya salad – som tam which was okay but I surely had eaten better and spicier !
When I rode to our next sight I must have missed a short cut and went another 12km instead of 7km and my TUKTUK colleages had already closed up the Bayon of Angkor Thom and decided to head home. So I spend some 20minutes there and headed back home myself. That was a short list of the must-sees. Day three was actually my highlight of Siem Reap and I will cover it in the next blog entry and because of convenience reasons in German:
Cheers for now, Dennis