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Going solo in Cambodia!

Going solo in Cambodia!

Well I guess I've been just having a too good a time to blog about it. Well actually I feel like I'm working a 9-5 again. I'm currently in Phuket Thailand but I'll update you on all that next time.

So last we met I was in Laos still finishing up a bike trip, the next stop was Cambodia but before that I chilled out in Don Det for a few days right beside the border. Don Det is more of a chilled out version of Vang Vieng...though it will most likely catch up in the coming years. Don Det is just one island of hundreds and is known for it's white river dolphins. I'm gonna just give you a few pics and move on as we have alot of ground to cover.
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These kids had their own home made horses (Knights of Nigh! Ha)
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I had already organised my visa in Phnom Phenh so it was just a matter of logistics. I decided to take a bus to the border and cross. The crossing was quick but the wait on the otherside to get a bus took hours, this is why a book is nescessary for travel!
kratie_1_009.jpg Immigration Office kratie_1_010.jpg The border crossing.

Finally we were herded onto a bus and off we were going, I had decided to stop off at Kratie and check it out as it was on the way and I was in no rush, plus it would give me time to plan out where I wanted to go in Cambodia. As soon as I got off the bus I was rushed by alot of guys selling thier hotel. One sounded ok and I agreed to come check it out...it ended up being up like 6 flights of stairs and right down the back, I'd probably get lost.. it was a huge place. I checked out alot of places and finally found something reasonable. A view from my balcony kratie_1_022.jpg This is the balcony.. lol kratie_1_099.jpg I liked the reflection ok...

Kratie was a riverside town, it had a central square market and it seemed the town then spread from there. Here are some pics of the area.. kratie_1_095.jpg Central market area. kratie_1_092.jpgkratie_1_090.jpgkratie_1_085.jpgkratie_1_064.jpgkratie_1_025.jpgkratie_1_023.jpgkratie_1_073.jpgMain street by the river.
No matter where you are there is always a temple... kratie_1_040.jpgkratie_1_049.jpgkratie_1_050.jpgkratie_1_052.jpgkratie_1_057.jpg

To tell you the truth I did'nt do to much in Kratie. There is a place you can go and see the white river dolphins like in Don Det but i read about it costing like $20-30 when you get to the river etc which seemed like a bit of a rip off and I was still on tight arse budgeting. I decided to amuse my self and head out at night which was eerie to say the least, the place was dead at night but so busy in the day. I thnk places like that are the creepiest at night...like schools or carnivals. Here are some pics kratie_1_121.jpgkratie_1_123.jpg The market place from other pic at night. kratie_1_120.jpgkratie_1_101.jpg I found one little store open.

Well Kratie got old after a few days so I decided it was time to head to the capitol making my way down south to where I had heard there were nice beaches. I organised a bus for the next day (always called a VIP bus). Im loaded in and for once it seems not to be overcrowded but almost as soon as I start enjoying the extra room we stop and another minivan pulls up and they have a people exchange from thiers to ours, then we pick up a family in suburbia...I'm now cramped up with no room to move with 16 people in a 12 seater van. The van driver is also a maniac which does'nt help the matter...in the middle legs squashed together in a car filled only with locals I sit in agony for 6 hours. Oh and mid journey the driver runs over a dog and continues on casually at breakneck speed. We also pass a crash with bodies covered by bamboo mats, feet sticking out and a van with a impact shattered windscreen :/

So I reach Phnom Penh central, by then people have been dropped off and I enjoy maybe the last hour in normal comfort. As soon as I get out I am barraged with tuk tuk drivers trying to get my fee... I have a price of a dollar in mind to get where I need to go and see who takes it... I'm off and out, heading to the hostel I had looked up (cheapest I could find) that had dorms, it is mostly rooms in Cambodia like alot of sth east asia. kampot_1_005.jpg
The hostel was cheap but I was on the top floor below a tin roof which was loud when it rained and an oven when hot. Spent a while there enjoying the new people and cheap drinks :) After a while I thought I had better do something more than drink and party.

I jumped on board with some other travellers and shared a tuk tuk to see the killing fields. The killing fields was quite a somber experience. You are handed a headset for an audio guide which you take to areas matching the recording with the number of the spot. The strange thing was that unlike other places I have visited, it is all quiet. The reflection of what the guides are telling you in that somber silence is quite something. Time and time again I have been reminded in my travels in how damned lucky I am to of been born in Australia, that we have no land borders to other countries. The atrocities that the Cambodian people had to endure were truly horrific and really not that long ago. Which means that a lot of people still affected are alive today, including those that committed the war crimes. I don't have any photo's as I thought it bad form. Speaking of bad form, as soon as you come out of the place you are approached to come to a shooting range (By the way the rumour is true, you CAN shoot a cow with a bazooka!).

I decided it was time to move on and head south to Kampot. Usually people bypass Kampot and goes straight to the party area of Cambodia which is Sihanoukville. I had read up on it though and decided that Kampot is a good central hub for the places I wanted to visit and I could day trip to Sihanoukville. The bus there was smooth sailing and again I was accosted with offers of tuk tuk's and hotels, they even have pictures on a big piece of cardboard. I chose the first reasonable looking one and was on my way, it had been a long ride but at least it was the big bus so not squishy. The next day I looked for something cheaper and found a gem. An asian arabian penthouse dorm! Plus the place had a pub and free mini golf course, I was sold!
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Kampot was a quite small and not so touristy which was a good change. I hired a bike and planned out a few days of exploring caves, salt fields and abandoned french colonial estates. Here's some pics...
large_motoscoot_1_089.jpgmotoscoot_1_097.jpgmotoscoot_1_099.jpgmotoscoot_1_065.jpgmotoscoot_1_056.jpgmotoscoot_1_111.jpg I got lost here, which trail do i take to the cave I was sure to find... a huge pig and her piglets watched me with interest..motoscoot_1_104.jpg
Finally I found some a cave (I found out later that it was not the one I was looking for but ended up better). As soon as I turned off my motorbikes engine I had three kids offering thier tour services through the maze inside the cave. I took them up on it as it seemed they'd be coming along hassleing me the whole way anyhow. I ended up paying them $1 U.S. each, Cambodia predominately uses american dollars and are preferred. This cave had this part of it where a huge part of the ceiling inside was suspended in the air by not much support .. motoscoot_1_007.jpgmotoscoot_1_024.jpgmotoscoot_1_035.jpg
Here was a spooky picture that I got in the cave, can you see what I see?? It's like mirroring the way I'm taking the photograph... motoscoot_1_027.jpg The kids had showed me a large hole where they found a lot of bones from people the Khmer Rouge killed, it is rumoured the cave is haunted...

Coming back to town I finally decide to take a shot of the beauty store signs, dunno if it's just me but this woukd'nt encourage me to come in... kampot_1_056.jpg and they are everywhere and worse than this sometimes lol... here's a couple more of the town.. kampot_1_055.jpgkampot_1_043.jpgkampot_1_041.jpg

Next day a quick ride to Kep for a dip in the ocean.. motoscoot_1_118.jpgmotoscoot_1_126.jpgmotoscoot_1_151.jpgmotoscoot_1_152.jpgmotoscoot_1_176.jpg

The next place was the Bokor Mountains. This the area that the french had built thier church and housing, even a casino. All these buildings now just delapitated shells of thier former beauty. They decided to build here due to the cool climate that the altitude brought. It was a great ride of winding roads through the jungle I guess as it is reported that tigers still roam wild there. The church and colonial buildings had an eerie presence, the moving mist only adding to it. At one time I could not see more than three metres ahead of myself the fog was so thick.
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On the way back I thought I might go find the Zoo and see what it was like. I had read that the zoo was quite bad a few years back and that WWF had intervened and has been helping the zoo get back on track. Health and safety was obviously not thier first priority. Reaching the zoo I rode up to the parking area and proceeded to walk around. So in most zoo's you dont feed the animals but here I dont think they really cared or would sell you food. Also the cages were right in your face to you could stick your hand in and pat that cute monkey if you wanted too, same goes for the tiger and lion cages. You could stick your arm in at anytime your that close, actually a kid did come and pat the tiger while I was there... I'm gonna hope that he was a worker there.
motoscooting_2_195.jpg I mean like you would'nt want to give that a pat, lil kitty :)
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Now this was hard not to stick my hand in and pat... motoscooting_2_231.jpgmotoscooting_2_232.jpgmotoscooting_2_236.jpg and I was actually about to risk a pat on the fence till I saw this motoscooting_2_241.jpg
Later on down the path I saw this, which made me wonder how secure the lion cages were.. motoscooting_2_218.jpgty
If there was a mastermind in the zoo, perhaps even behind the jail break just pictured...it'd be this fella motoscooting_2_280.jpg
Here's the local party animal stayin up all night, bit bright today? motoscooting_2_307.jpg
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Some had the zoo life figured out... motoscooting_2_487.jpgmotoscooting_2_432.jpgmotoscooting_2_527.jpg
Lastly a jaunt down to Sihanoukville to check out these beaches, they were ok...plus a fishing village on the way was nice.
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I'm gonna leave it here as I have a lot more to cover and I don't want to take up your whole day ;p
More to come!

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 22:56 Archived in Cambodia Tagged fields cambodia kampot angkor wat bike killing reap scooter siem phnom penh Comments (3)

4 days on the Road, Laos

"The Loop" 4 days bike tour in Laos

Well it wasn’t just me and the road, I did have some of the Travellers or Anarchy with me. I jump a little ahead myself again and I want to show you the amazing bus Bas was able to get for us... it had fairies on the side of it and was all pink inside! biking_1_001.jpg It was the best bus Ive been on yet, well done Bas! Though I could of done without the karaoke for over half the way :/ The karaoke is constant on these busses and that is the hardest part of keeping sane on the long trips... it's difficult...

Anyhow, we arrive in Tha Khaek. We had heard of a couple good places to get bikes, one being near the bus station but we actually ended up hiring our bikes from more centrally in the city from Mr. Wang Wang for $4 p/day. The bikes were not Japanese like I had wanted but the Chinese ones we got held up really well and I did punish mine quite a bit being a novice rider.

So the ride is a well-known route called "The loop" ingeniously. It is 475km long and takes 4 days approx to ride for the main roads but added up with all the side treks more like 600km+. Here is the route map The_Loop.jpg
Most of the roads are something you would consider to be a road but there is still much to be desired and it's a good idea to keep an eye on the road at all times as even on the nicest roads you have potholes come up out of nowhere randomly.

The first day went well and we visited a few sites and had a swim, Soon it became apparent that we had not timed our visits and the time it would take to get to our first destination. But there was good reason, here are some of the pics from our visits, large_biking_1_091.jpgbiking_1_085.jpgbiking_1_056.jpgbiking_1_049.jpgbiking_1_104.jpgbiking_1_113.jpg Now throughout this cave the guide kept showing me these rock formation that looked like Elephants, well they did kind of but not as much as a formation I discovered...see if you can see it in this picture... it's carrying a tree in its trunk. biking_1_120.jpg Don't see it? It's layered so first layer is the head then the other layers of body come behind. The head is looking straight on with trunk in the middle holding a trunk..well...anyhow I claimed the discovery so if you go..you know.
This picture looks like Australia huh! biking_1_126.jpg When we were leaving there were locals being strange in the bushes, upon further inspection we found that they had a bag of snakes and lizards with them as we ran when they released them haha biking_1_133.jpg Next stop was this strange holy cave which had carved stairways looking much like that famous picture or type of picture with endless cycles or stairs. biking_1_137.jpgbiking_1_161.jpgbiking_1_194.jpgbiking_1_214.jpg When we were leaving we spotted some monks for some amazing pictures and a great chat. biking_1_215.jpgbiking_1_226.jpgbiking_1_238.jpgbiking_1_239.jpg This Gem supplied by the great Bas. large_biking_1_240.jpgbiking_1_242.jpgbiking_1_250.jpglarge_biking_1_262.jpg

We found ourselves well short of reaching our first sleeping stop when dark came and the road had deteriorated to a dusty dirt road with lots of potholes. Having a constant dust cloud ahead of me and the occasional car or truck going past making it impossible to see anything in the pitch black jungle...no lights here! Finally after a few hours we came across a town that we believed to be the right place... we were greeted with smiles and laughing from our hostel manage as we rode in weary and dirty, best greeting ever. We celebrated our survival with spring rolls! 1biking_1_288.jpg from there we continued on to the next destination. The road along this section of the ride was the worst with wet muddy slippery dusty roads for hours. By the end of it with muddy bikes and legs we had the road start to form into something rideable again. After this haul we decided we were due for a stop, finding a local shop in the town we stopped off. They were busy removing shells from peanuts for the day it seemed. we stayed for a while getting coffee and lollies (sharing with the collection of kids around) and chatting/laughing. biking_2_021.jpgbiking_2_024.jpgbiking_2_020.jpgbiking_2_072.jpgbiking_2_034.jpgbiking_2_035.jpgbiking_2_043.jpgbiking_2_048.jpgbiking_2_079.jpglarge_biking_2_077.jpgbiking_2_008.jpg

On our last stop we did fairly well arriving in town before dark. Once reaching the edges of town we stopped and asked some people where we were...before we knew it we were in a party of some sort having drinks poured down our throats and dancing. large_biking_2_096.jpgbiking_2_100.jpgbiking_2_099.jpg The kids were a crackup large_biking_2_088.jpgbiking_2_082.jpgbiking_2_089.jpg Soon we head off before we can't drive anymore, they even offer us to sleep there haha the hostel we found was not short of beer or views... biking_2_005.jpg

Next day was nice roads but a long drive with a waterfall in between... large_biking_2_018.jpg That’s the Frenchy we picked up along the way. biking_2_041.jpgbiking_2_044.jpg but 20km's out my tyre decides now is a good time to go flat. Luckily there was two bikes and we go find the next town and a mechanic, we ride a km or so to get help. After a while of speaking with multiple people I am told I need to bring the bike here, so I get dropped off and start the walk back with the bike. Finally get there and get it all fixed after hours of waiting don_det_018.jpg..though entertained by the locals helping us out the time passes quickly. Then it's a night ride to town which is hard with bugs in your teeth and no lights on the streets but we make it.

In the end it was a great ride and well worth doing.

S.

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 02:23 Archived in Laos Tagged ride laos bike loop tha the_loop theak Comments (0)

Travellers of Anarchy

Ridin the roads of Laos

Arriving in Luang Namtha we quickly found the hostel we had been recommended which was great! It was a fully enclosed backpacker’s paradise. Well it was more than I had been used to for a while anyhow ;p
Quickly we made friends with some Spanish fellows who I went out on a biking trip around town with, 38km's of sightseeing!
First site we come to with a hella uphill ride we are met with an old lady charging to see it, so like the tight arse I am I back up whilst the others talk to her and take my pic!bike_namtha_011.jpg Here are a couple of pictures found along the way..bike_namtha_016.jpgbike_namtha_023.jpgbike_namtha_027.jpg
bike_namtha_049.jpg Soon I stopped at a shack to grab a picture bike_namtha_062.jpg I had some lychees I had been carrying around and this looked like a great setting to relax and have some refreshing fruit (I'd been craving Lychee's for a while now). bike_namtha_072.jpgbike_namtha_065.jpgbike_namtha_063.jpg The day is quite warm and even though we all look ridiculously good looking, we are sweating man stink from every orifice! Sooo when we came across a river with someone washing in it, it seemed like a good idea to go down for a dip... bike_namtha_107.jpg So In we get except for Jordi white. It was enjoyable up until the stage that we got out and asked ourselves what that smell was...hmm smells like poop...Oh, ok it's the river. Oh well, just have to move on. Next we go and get some food, not being able to find the place recommended we try a market and find nothing worthy of the word "meal". We spy some fruit stands bike_namtha_128.jpg and decide we will all just get lots of fruit...for some reason we all end up with a watermelon each (it was hot!). I have a lady cut me open a coconut, they really are great for hydrating (Thanks Brennan) bike_namtha_133.jpg. So we have all this fruit, then we notice a somewhat eating stand on the side of the market. One of the Spanish comes back from a reconnaissance mission and informs that there is rice! So we decide that that is more appetizing than the fruit, off we go. Now the place is not your 5 star establishments... bike_namtha_139.jpg But when you’re hungry and well you just have to give things a go sometimes and was I surprised... it was VERY good!bike_namtha_140.jpg It was very spicy, so we were glad we got the watermelon! bike_namtha_136.jpg Well onwards we continued, here are the pics bike namtha 193

bike namtha 193

bike_namtha_187.jpgbike_namtha_162.jpgbike_namtha_163.jpgbike_namtha_181.jpgbike_namtha_124.jpgbike_namtha_100.jpgbike_namtha_095.jpg I have to say it was an amazing ride, the scenery was ..Umm amazing ;p It's that ride that you imagine having before you have come over. Through rice paddy fields and old dirt towns with kids running around playing games. We went down one path and it was swarming with butterflies, was...amazing ;p

The next day it I met a Dutch couple...and well as soon as I knew they were Dutch they were my new best friends :) It seems that the guy's birthday was tomorrow and they were planning to go on a motorbike trip. So we all invited ourselves to their planned birthday trip of course! The next day we all gathered for a day trip on the roads of Laos. This is what the motley bunch looked like... large_Sons_of_Anarchy_003.jpg
Never before had the roads of Laos encountered such a mean gang of killer bikers! The Travellers of Anarchy were here!

The Chopper!
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Soon in we stopped at a school where we proceeded to teach them skills that would lead them successfully through life! Sons_of_Anarchy_024.jpg Arm farting!!
We got to a market and bought Lao Lao whiskey with what we had left from the bike pot, this stuff is horrid and potent!Sons_of_Anarchy_052.jpg Soon we were at a Hmong village and the girls trying on some traditional clothing. They had a hard time with having bigger breasts than they were made for lol Sons_of_Anarchy_063.jpgSons_of_Anarchy_065.jpgSons_of_Anarchy_067.jpgSons_of_Anarchy_070.jpg The school.. Sons_of_Anarchy_071.jpg The ghost gate... Sons_of_Anarchy_073.jpg we got yelled at a little for going to close...I'm sure it was for our own benefeit! Sons_of_Anarchy_078.jpg The end was a waterfall (which I never saw, they wanted to charge us and we thought we'd send one up with a camera instead ;p)Sons_of_Anarchy_100.jpg
Ok, so we head back and there is rain and we all are running out of fuel but luckily we reach a shack selling some in bottles, I did learn a neat trick on cruising downhill with the bike turned off then restarting again when you need to saving fuel.

Next we all head down as a group back to Luang Prabang (Love this place!) on the way to Vang Vieng. While in LP I think it is time I actually go and see some of the sites. Somehow I end up going to see the central temple/stupa? Big golden thing in the middle of town on a hill. Things always seem to be a bit different when you go at night (May know what I mean if read Japan), so at midnight I head off with another Dutch. We try to ninja our way up but there are dogs :/ and bark they do...I just hope that the monks don't come out and kick our arse! Anyhow we get to the top and its all silent and cool there are these flood lights lighting up the stupa which is gold and looks cool. All of a sudden I hear "Subadee!" ... taken aback I turn my attention upwards from where I heard the call (It means, Hello!) and I see a strange sight. There is a man climbing over the stupa with a bamboo fishing rod with a moth on the end! I'm not sure what he is doing and my Laos does not help to create a conversation on the subject but he is running about collecting moths and has this rod...fling it out every now and then. I can only assume he is fishing for bats?!??! Anyhow the point is... it's good to try sites and such at night because there truly is a different feel to them and you see things you would otherwise never know.

The next day it's time to go and see this waterfall everyone keeps going on about and have a swim. The swim was actually more the drawcard! I'm just going to fling out a heap of photos at this point. Actually before I do, there was one surprise. They had black bears there also, they seemed pretty relaxed in their hammocks waterfall_LP_029.jpgwaterfall_LP_032.jpg Ok, now I’m gonna just give you the waterfall pics. The swim was great and waterfall surprisingly good also. Though the trek up to the top was not worth it at all :/ waterfall_LP_040.jpgwaterfall_LP_050.jpgwaterfall_LP_057.jpgwaterfall_LP_091.jpglarge_waterfall_LP_097.jpg This is what I climbed and slipped and sweated for... hardly worth it :/ waterfall_LP_123.jpg Then it's time to go home... large_waterfall_LP_125.jpg

Posted by CrackerjackHobo 06:24 Archived in Laos Tagged ride rice laos bike drive scooter biker namtha Comments (0)

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