Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

February 11th, 2013 by DC

Four hot, flat days have taken me from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. It generally went well, except for my first crash of the trip, 13,000km in!

It’s about 330km from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. I decided to split this into 4 easy days (3 x 90km and 1 x 60km) instead of trying to do a big 150km day that some people do to make it three- I’m in no rush at the moment (as you can probably tell!). The first day out of Phnom Penh followed the Tonle Sap river out of town, heading towards Battambang, before cutting across to National Highway 6 which I’d follow to Siem Reap. I did this because I knew that the main road out of Phnom Penh had about 40km of roadworks, and I’d already cycled that part coming into town.

The road was a bit quieter, although the section between the highways had been stripped back to the base for new seal to be put on, and was all dusty. This was ok, until I got to a section that they’d just dumped a heap of water on, and my bike ended up being covered in red mud again after having it cleaned a few days before! Grrr.

I stayed the night in the dusty junction town of Skon.. This area is known for eating spiders (hence the big statues of them), although I didn’t realise until I was out the other side (damn….).
Cambodian houses
The next day to Kampong Thom was uneventful until about 1.5km from town! This stretch of road from PP to Siem Reap has been a bit different to the rest I’ve ridden in Cambodia. There often isn’t much of a sealed shoulder, and there’s a drop between the seal and the gravel shoulder of about 5-10cm. This means that you can’t easily switch from one to the other, you’re pretty much committed. The other problem is that the edge isn’t really a straight line- it’s often eroded away meaning you’ve got to swerve around a fair bit. The traffic on this stretch was also relatively aggressive- mainly overloaded minivans and tourist buses trying to pass everything in sight (and things out of sight when they pass on blind corners!).
So I was pretty lucky that there was nothing passing me when I found myself sprawled on the road near the end of my ride just out of Kampong Thom. I’d had a momentary lapse of concentration- probably looking at something on the side of the road- and came off the seal into a pothole. As I tried to correct my mind didn’t think fast enough- in hindsight I should’ve committed to the gravel and ridden away from the road, trusting my handling skills and the fact I’m running 2″ wide tyres.

Instead I tried to re-mount the seal, this somehow spun my handlebars, and I ended up falling onto the road. Luckily I’d managed to drop some speed by throwing on my brakes momentarily, so it was a pretty low-speed crash, and the bit of the road I landed on was nice and smooth. I picked myself up and found no damage to the bike. I had a graze near my elbow, a bruised hip and some painful (presumably bruised) ribs, which a week later I can still feel when I lift heavy things.

It was my only crash in 13,000km (I hit that mark earlier that day), and I felt pretty lucky at how well I came out of it. As I say, I’m just glad there wasn’t any traffic on the road at the time!
Flat as a pancake!
Typical riding at the moment
Mosque in Cambodia
Carvings in action..
Another flat 90km day got me to Kampong Kdei, where I stayed in a room beside what I think may have been an ice making factory that had some machinery running all day and night. It was another dusty town, although the old bridge was pretty cool- it’s only used for scooters and bicycles now!
Crossing a little river
Crushing cans in Cambodia- driving your truck backwards and forwards over them!
Old Naga bridge in Kampong Kdei..
Old Naga bridge in Kampong Kdei..
And finally, a relatively short 60km day (which I did by 10am) saw me in Siem Reap, where I found a decent guesthouse and settled in for a week of hanging out and temple-visiting that I’ll cover in the next post!
Typical entrance to side-roads..Typical entrance to side-roads..
This little piggy went to market..

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