Posted in Cambodia

To the bridge over Mekong river

Five days after I left Siem Reap, I come across the Mekong at Stung Treng today. The bridge does not look very spectacular, although the river is about 1.5 kilometers wide here, but the river does make a difference – and it looks so untouched. Since the Mekong can only be navigated to the border with Laos, it is not economically interesting as a waterway in this region, and therefore no large ships can be seen. The city is also not particularly large, but is considered a border town to Laos, which is about 50 km away, and is the administrative seat for the Stung Treng district, as well as a hub for various bus connections further into the country or to neighboring Laos.

After the three days of cycling and tuk-tuk in Angkor Wat, it was almost like a new beginning and a good feeling to be able to ‘get back on the road’ with all the luggage on the bike. But I didn’t want to leave Siem Reap without rolling through the large park of Angkor Wat again. The Banteay Kdei temple was still missing and was only a short detour on my route. A small temple ruin that is not approached on the shorter tours through the park and therefore has relatively few visitors, although it e.g. is not that far from Ta Phrom Temple.

With this little detour I was not tempted to use the busy NR6 eastwards to get away from Siem Reap and towards Preah Vihear, but simply followed the road leading out of the park and was still able to benefit a few kilometers from the shady forest.

There is a small (tourist-prepared) settlement, which is intended to demonstrate a little the rural life of the region and with some restaurants is waiting for visitors from the park of Angkor. At early noon there wasn’t too much going on and I wasn’t stopped, my route to Svay Leu was still long enough.
Far from the main connecting road and far from the tourist spots, the picture changed a little. This side route took me through long-drawn-out settlements with partly modern Khmer-style houses and simpler wooden buildings, but actually always clean plots, in contrast to the first days between Poipet and Siem Reap.

People often farm on a small scale, with a few cattle, or with a few plots of rice, with the fields currently dry. Shops are rare, however, and can almost only be found at intersections of different streets. But almost always there is an unexpected and at the right time a street kitchen on the side of the road that offers soup with noodles or fried rice with egg or can conjure up quickly.
On the relatively short stage from Svay Leu to Moreal on the second day, there is noodle soup for breakfast and I eat a cucumber noodle soup again in the late morning (but then cold), which somehow reminds me of Estonia and a cucumber soup that I once tried there a few years ago.

It is nice that you can always address the friendly people directly and they are not shy themselves, even if the communication does not work at all. The selection in the pots is never particularly large, and yet I often get more on my plate than I expected. In Svay Leu I wanted to give up in the evening, because by 7pm I was already late and some of the small restaurants in town were already tidying up. A young cook told me that I could come to him for breakfast, but he was already closed. Two other covered halls with tables and chairs were full of guests, but self-cooking with a hotpot was the order of the day. The operators only sell the ingredients there and you have to know what you want. Not the right choice for a hungry individual.

In the end, I got a delicious portion of fried noodle with lots of vegetables from a very busy cook with a wok and grill who only had two tables in his open space. While I was eating there people kept coming over to pick up their phone orders and sat down at my table with two young girls who ate a large portion of papaya salad (at least it did look like) with crayfish with relish and intense entertainment to have. Apparently the specialty from the cook’s large wooden mortar, in which he always prepared new dishes. With a loud crack and crackle, the two girls nibbled the crayfish’s shell – also a peculiarity of the Khmer, seafood and meat always with as much and splintered bones as possible to eat. If you order rice with chicken, you can often (not always) adjust to a lot of cartilage and bone, but little meat.

The last five days have cost a lot of strength, since I now almost always had to drive against the gusty east wind, sometimes through profiled terrain. There are no special highlights along the route, actually the ideal terrain for making the route. In any case, people who came towards me benefited from the wind. That was two Dutch women half-way around noon today, and a little later in the afternoon a young Briton on a world tour. That also that I am not driving an unknown route. Maybe that’s why the policemen smiled so mischievously at their checkpoint – oh, another madman on a bike.

Final Tiles Gallery id= does not exist

In any case, children on the side of the road are still happy about every light-skinned cyclist who comes by and sometimes shout “Helloo!” Before I even register them. Schoolchildren often wave a little more cautiously, but I am perceived as a colorful tourist by apparently many more people than I see as I roll past their often gray everyday life.

I rather notice the smells, from the burning plastic waste, from the charcoal fire, from boiling rice, from the cassava roots drying on the roadside, because for about two days I pass through an area in which a lot is grown. The harvest has apparently just run, because on the one hand I see many single-axle trailers with tractors that are loaded with cassava roots and drive to the next collection points. The roots are chopped into strips by hand and placed extensively in the sun to dry. In the warmth, these white roots exude a typical sweet smell, which naturally rises into my nose as I roll past.
The dry roots are packed in sacks and brought back to warehouses with the single-axle tractors that are widespread throughout Cambodia, from where they are transported away by larger trucks for further processing.
There was such a warehouse in Moreal, not far from the guest house where I had stayed, and in the evening a few trucks were busy loading.

The warmth during the day, the rising smoke and haze in the evening, dogs barking almost everywhere at night, and from six in the morning xylophone-like music and spherical sounds from the nearest monastery. The sounds almost never stop, and yet there is silence at some point in the night. There was a family gathering somewhere in Moreal, and party music was playing in the afternoon and stopping almost all night long, until after a short break in the morning it was ‘taken over’ by the monks and their xylophone sounds.

This music can be very soothing if it is not played too loudly, which is unfortunately usually the case. Here in Stung Treng, however, I have never heard of the monastery / temple about 400 m away.


Posted in Cambodia

Having a break in ruins


Siem Reap is a very busy city, which is flooded by tourists from all over the world thanks to the unique medieval temples of Angkor Wat. You can get used to it, you are prepared for it and you make a living from it. If you want, you can sit down in one of the many restaurants or cafés that are geared towards western needs and put your feet up, or face everyday life in Cambodia and explore the hustle and bustle in side streets and markets. You can also get a multi-day ticket to visit the archaeological park of Angkor Wat and explore the huge area on your own either by bike or tuk-tuk.

You can get the tickets in a purpose-built building outside the city, about halfway from the center to the park, and after we have started Friday as the first day of the break and actually put our feet up a bit and later asked about bike shops to find a packaging for Maik’s bike for the return trip. Then we took our bikes to the temple complex in the afternoon to get a first impression.

The temples, which can be categorized over several centuries, were built under various kings of the Khmer in the Middle Ages and were sometimes Hindu, sometimes Buddhist, and sometimes were also rededicated after the religious reorientation of a subsequent king. at Wikipedia – can be read.

It is fascinating how much space these temples take up, sometimes surrounded by a wide moat, like the Angkor Wat and Preah Khan temples, as well as the much smaller Ta Phrom temple, compared to the later built city of Angkor Thom, which has a walled area of 3 x 3 km is said to have housed a million people. Nothing has remained of the wooden residential buildings, only the remains of the stone temples testify to a once flourishing culture, which, however, could not do much to oppose the conquests of the Siamese in the 13th century. The city of Angkor Thom was abandoned in a hurry.


Of course, I also use the days here to change my thoughts from cycling and to eat something other than noodle soup or fried rice. From time to time I also like to take an omelet or cereal for breakfast. In the Star Bar near the small hotel, a broadcast of the Super Bowl of the American Football League is shown on a big screen on Sunday morning from 6 a.m. and the restaurant sells tickets for it in all seriousness and is actually quite well attended when we pass it at 8 a.m. to stroll. The omelette also tastes good in the “Viva” at the old market.

On the bike, the chain gets fresh oil and new tension after the approximately 800 kilometers driven. The chain lengthens slightly over time, and from time to time it is therefore necessary to readjust the rear axle or the gear hub. I notice that I have a wide crack in the profile in the rear wheel. Apparently it doesn’t go right into the tire’s carcass, but on my last day in the city I let myself search for a replacement tire. As it turns out, 28 “bikes are not that common among the many bike dealers we met while looking for a box for Maik’s bike.

At a Specialized dealer, who also offers classic models in addition to individual racing bikes, I find a suitable trekking tire from Chinese production, which I will take with me on my onward journey.


Posted in Cambodia

Via Sisophon into the east direction


The next major goal is the city of Siem Reap, where I have planned a break for a few days. The country initially offers little variety and little shade along the busy national road 5. During the day it is hotter in Cambodia than in Thailand, although the thermometer does not show more than there. At least that’s how I feel. The air humidity is obviously lower, but it cools down even more at night. The NR 5 leads straight ahead to the east. At a traffic circle about 7 km outside of Poipet, we can buy juice again in the shop of a modern gas station. This can be used to spice up the otherwise very tasteless water on the go.

Later there will only be simple stalls along the street, which also offer everything, but water is usually only in small bottles and fruit juice is not to be seen there. There is no comfortable hard shoulder on the side of the road, as on so many roads in Thailand, or at least the marking has long since disappeared. So always keep to the right and watch out for obstacles, because someone likes to stop at the edge. Otherwise, the horn is obviously an important means of communication in this country.

Apart from the heat, which I have to deal with, light wind presses against the driving comfort from the front. So we alternate with giving slipstream from time to time, which definitely does help something. For a few kilometers, I even hang behind one of the small cargo trailers with a single-axle tractor that has loaded sugar cane and is traveling at almost 18 km / h, Maik behind me. On top of the stack of sugar cane, a woman in work clothes with a sun hat is stretching out, dozing there.
For a short while, this is a bit slower progress, but a rather relaxed driving. The faster vehicles coming from behind also automatically pass us at a sufficient distance. Unfortunately the driver stops at an intersection in the next village and we have to deal with the slight headwind again.


I don’t see restaurants on the street that often anymore, and when I see a canopy with tables and chairs underneath the street in Nimitt, about halfway to Sisophon, we stop there and after a short question the boss also makes us a nice portion of fried rice with some vegetables and shrimp.

Shortly before the center of Sisophon, a brand new archway built in sandstone points to a Buddhist temple located behind it. I have never seen such an archway made of sandstone in Thailand or here in Cambodia, mostly it is simply bricked, modeled and decorated with cement, and then colored with a lot of bright color. This one seems to be an exception. The other temple buildings do not have sandstone decorations themselves. From the area of the temple, individual people come on their mopeds through the archway. A friendly gentleman explains to us that it would be no problem to visit the plant. However, it is not particularly spectacular, except that all the buildings still look new.

The next day we stop in the Rohal area at another temple, which is about 500m off the highway and on the edge of a village. This too was only renovated a few years ago and a blackboard explains in which years how much donations and from which countries were used. The area of the temple looks tidy, in a larger pond you can see some lotus plants in bloom and in some corners there are even trash cans. Should this be used to counter the waste problem that is otherwise visible everywhere?

Already in Poipet there was a lot of rubbish along the streets, and the further away from the main street the worse. Along the trunk road, which is built on a high embankment, the rubbish lies along the embankment or below it in the ditch. There it is apparently burned together with the dry grass from time to time. Traces of it can be seen clearly. Burning dry grass or crop residues in fields is a daily practice in this country. And there is always fly ash in the air, which presumably comes from fires that are placed in fields far away from the road in a controlled manner for the removal of crop residues. In the distance at least one or the other column of smoke can be seen and small flakes of ash collect again and again in the sweat on my arms.


This continues in the settlements along the street, where sometimes open containers made from old car tires also serve as collection points. Often, however, the garbage lies around it. There does not seem to be an awareness of the dirt or avoiding it. It’s pretty sad to see.

Kralanh is a much smaller city, more of a small town with a large intersection and a market that stretches across several narrow streets near this intersection. There is also a large school there.
In the evening it is not so easy to find something edible. Some small street restaurants close in the late afternoon, when the market also comes to rest.

After some looking around and asking for food, we get stuck at the table of an inconspicuous food stall, which already offers pre-cooked stew with rice, plus canned beer from the slowly thawing refrigerator. The next ice delivery will not be replenished until tomorrow morning.

In the early morning I wake up to the song of a muezzin calling for prayer long before sunrise. With the sunrise he calls again later. I hadn’t noticed that in the evening, but it was probably because of the street noise in front of the restaurant where we had been sitting for a while.
Even before sunset, the air was slightly hazy from the smoke that is suddenly everywhere. Somewhere someone is lighting the swept up garbage in front of their house, or heating up the open small coal stove to cook dinner – and of course everywhere in the small streets.

From Kralanh it is less than 60 km to the center of Siem Reap. The landscape had changed slightly yesterday, with more dark green in the distance, thicker rows of trees between larger agricultural areas. Also fresh green from rice fields, seen in this way a quite lively landscape, despite the scorching heat.

Posted in Cambodia

Second time Cambodia


Cambodia welcomes me with a lot of dust and sultry heat. The city of Poipet, just behind the border with Thailand, is full of noise and traffic, dusty, and very confusing thanks to the many billboards and street vendors lined up right on the roadside. Whispering mopeds everywhere, sometimes making their way in the opposite direction, honking cars and trucks, which roll relatively slowly but make their way steadfastly.

The entry formalities took much longer than I expected, but we also arrived at the border at lunchtime, which was perhaps a bad time. Although all four counters in the small immigration barrack on the Cambodian side were open. Not all border guards on duty were equally motivated, so it took about three quarters of an hour before the entry stamp with a 30-day permit was finally stamped into my passport.

By the way, it makes no difference, whether you already have a visa on your passport or whether you still have to go to the visa office, that you will pass on your way through no man’s land anyway. Sticking in this Visa on arrival is quick, currently costs US $ 30, and one way or the other you always have to fill out an immigration form and have it stamped. Even if you arrive with an electronic visa. This e-Visa has no advantage; you have to bring it with you on a printout and it keeps everyone waiting because the officer has to scan the barcode of this printout and to do this he has to leave his desk and scan and put it down at a separate work station.
A few Spaniards stood in front of me in my queue, for whom the quite comfortable official had accumulated a few extra minutes just by processing the many e-visas.
But getting impatient doesn’t help at this point, and it was shady in the barrack and bearable thanks to the many fans.

In Poipet I have to orientate myself first, although the road only leads straight. The richness of the impressions and the warmth of the early afternoon are tiring. We have to drive around 2.5 kilometers into the city to my favorite hotel. I stayed there two years ago and it hasn’t changed. Only the attached small restaurant is no longer in operation, which is a shame, because on the small veranda you could sit undisturbed by the traffic in the evening. The rooms with balconies are on the side facing away from the main street and in the afternoon heat the quickly washed laundry dries until the evening.
There are enough restaurants in the vicinity of the Ly Heng Chhay Hotel, as we will see later on a short exploration tour. But first I want to get myself some money and the second most important step today is to get a SIM card with enough data for the next few weeks. There are some banks with imaginative names and with ATM and the ATM I choose unfortunately only tallers US dollars which I exchange at the nearest money changer for Cambodian Riel, which of course can only be a losing deal.
We’ll get a SIM card with a 30-day validity and a data volume that I would never use in a month at home, for $ 9 each. The young lady in the SMART Mobile store is very competent and helpful in setting up the card.
Later in the evening we sit in a Khmer restaurant, which apparently is only visited by locals. There is delicious grilled squid and a raw food plate cooled with ice cubes, in addition we order fried rice with vegetables and Thai beer. The locals do the same.

The power goes out briefly and it is long dark outside. After a short time, a few ‘fireflies’ light up in the large, high restaurant, people light up on the tables with their smartphones. I have my headlamp with me for such situations, but it is now in the hotel, so far there was no need for it in Thailand. However, the interruption lasts only a few minutes, during which traffic outside works with the vehicle headlights through dust and haze.

The last quarter in Thailand, on the outskirts of the village of Khlong Hat, was again a very nice example of simple but well-kept bungalows, which are integrated into a kind of nursery outside the thoroughfare. The manager did not do a long discussion when we got there in the early afternoon and greeted us with the price of the room – “you get a room for 600 baht” without even having asked. A clean room in a quiet environment. Practical that the lady also is able to cook and at least conjures up a rice pan with vegetables for us in the evening.

The last two day trips in Thailand were also fun. The mountainous landscape in the southern half of the province of Sa Kaeo offers a different variety for the eye than the coastal regions can. Wooded mountain slopes, karst landscapes and agricultural areas, mainly sugar cane and occasionally smaller rubber plantations. However, there was suddenly a new problem with Maik’s bike, which had fallen over in a bike rack the day before in Ban Nam Ron, at the local café at the petrol station. We hadn’t seen how that could happen, only that it was suddenly there. But now a spoke has apparently loosened overnight and the whole rim is warped. That looks worse than it is, but Maik can now only use the brake on the front wheel to a limited extent. There are no problems when driving.

About 20 km north of Ban Nam Ron, colorful tents and something like a folk festival could be seen and heard on a monastery site off road 317. As if a stadium announcer was making announcements, a loud voice boomed from a loudspeaker on the premises. Maybe a sporting event? When we curiously put down the bikes below the tents, we were immediately addressed and invited to eat and try the food out. Fruit and drinks are served at some tables, fresh pineapples and colored water ice on thin wooden sticks; grilling somewhere. A friendly gentleman tries to talk to us.
The reason for the Sunday party is apparently the joint construction of the monastery building. The roof is just being covered and several piles of roof tiles in two different colors lie under one of the colorful tents in front of the building, which is still under construction. Everyone can participate with donations and dedicate individual roof tiles, or just sign. After the friendly invitation and the delicious pineapple, we also donate and so it happens that one of the orange colored stones now bears my name.
We do not stay long, because what we saved the route the day before, we have to make up today, to Khlong Hat it will be about 75 kilometers. The wavy road profile suits us a little, because it mainly leads us downhill and often the bike runs by itself.
In Soi Dao we prefer the lunch break after about 35 km because the breakfast in Ban Nam Ron was so spartan. I’ve been hungry for a long time and know from my own experience what it means to eat too little on such a trip. But I can also quickly convince Maik, and we also want to look for a bicycle workshop here that can process the imbalance in its front rim. However, that fails because on Sunday at least in the province, many shops remain closed. Even later we pass a bicycle workshop in a beautiful landscape, which the owner has locked and left and where the neighbor cannot help us to find him (although he seems to live there).

So there was nothing left but to wait until today and just before the border, because the city of Aranya Prathet is big enough to find several bicycle dealers and we are ultimately lucky there and find a well-trained and equipped two-wheeler mechanic who takes the time immediately to help Maik. Then the front rim is almost like new again and we don’t have to worry about it any more.

On the route from Khlong Hat to Aranya Prathet, which sometimes runs quite close to the border with Cambodia, there are checkpoints by the police at almost every major intersection, which were all occupied, but without us being stopped.

Here in Cambodia we immediately notice the somewhat reserved behavior of people towards us strangers and the much less consideration for road traffic. The basic situation is obviously different, because poverty is already evident in the side streets, houses are neglected and rubbish is everywhere, it is cooked on the street on an open fire and the quality of the surface of these side streets (if any) is sometimes catastrophic.
We’ll see tomorrow how the national road 5 develops towards the east, this road actually leads almost straight down to Phnom Phen. Because of the rim problem, I had decided not to take any further detours to Siem Reap, where the journey for Maik ends, then.

Posted in Cambodia

Saying Good-bye to Cambodia

Morning traffic in Siem Reap

I could have gotten used to the good breakfast at one of the local restaurants near the Siem Reap night market. Especially after I found out that in the morning shortly after sunrise you can still relax along the east bank of the small Siem Reap River. After a half-hour jog in the heat that is not yet so oppressive in the morning, the omelette and the muesli with fresh fruits are a great way to start the otherwise hot day. Later I cycled more than 30 km to the Angkor Park and back.

Omlett and muesli with fruits at Dam Nak Ana Restaurant, Siem Reap

From northwest of Siem Reap, where one of the two international airports of Cambodia is located, I fly back home over three stages and within about 20 hours via Bangkok and Frankfurt to Berlin. This more or less simple connection is taking a bit of the myth of a clean kind of traveling, on the other hand wouldn’t it be possible to travel in this way at all.
The bicycle goes as special baggage onto the journey and as Bangkok Airways has different demands for the transport of a bicycle (the part of Lufthansa first starts in Bangkok), I have to dismantle the bike and pack it with more effort than for the flight to Singapore. When I was in Bangkok 2 weeks before, I already found a robust canvas of 2.5 x 3 mtr. at a local manufacturer about 4km away from Wongwian Yai Station, that I carry since then on my bicycle with its 3 kg of mass. It took me half a day to find this small workshop, to ask and ask again at the shops and little craft-stalls in the region, along Somdet Phra Chao Tak Sin. Sometimes it helps to ask the right question to the right person.

Under the roof of the small court of the hotel in Siem Reap, district Nam Dak, I then need about one hour to get teh bicycle ‘ready for shipping’. Some fragments of used cartonage, that I had collected during the last days, help protect parts of the contour of the bike. The front wheel has to be taken off the fork and I wrap the bicycle then with the canvas and use my laundry rope to wrap and fix it. Ready for transport is the package of about 23 kg. This shows the meter later at the airport and this is also a surprise for me. I’m sweatened after this little work and the temperature now around noon has reached 37° while I’m waiting for the Tuk Tuk that’ll bring me to the airport.
They are everywhere in the streets, used as taxi’s, I often had to deal with them when riding on my bike throuhg the city and the Angkor Park an now, for the few kilometers to the airport, I can enjoy one of these all-purpose vehicles. The driver takes care about the overload, because the bike hangs over both sides of the Tuk Tuk. So it takes about half an hour to come to the airport, and I really enjoy the time sitting in this small vehicle, despite the dusty air and the heat of the afternoon. It’s like a little goodbye from this interesting country, that still has to develop so many things.

Taxis are rare – Tuk Tuk is first choice, here

The next morning my baggage really is dis-embarqued in an undamaged condition, what not always happend in such a good way in the past. But I don’t unwrap and reassemble the bicycle on site, even the sun is shining and laughing in a similar manner, as it did at last in Cambodia. Only similar, because at -6°C I quickly take and wear all layers of my thin clothes and move the baggage (incl. the packed bike) out of the terminal building and into the sun, where I’m lucky enough that both supervisers at the taxi kai, also packed into thick, warm clothes, organise a big taxi within minutes for me. Winter-wonder city Berlin, nice to see you again – but must it be at these deep temperatures ?…

Posted in Cambodia

Fascinating Angkor

Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat, seen from the west gate

Old stones can fascinate, especially if they were worked on and stacked at times that are foreign to us and far away from today. If there is also a slightly mystical environment, then the temple complexes that are present here in large numbers at Siem Reap and distributed in a very wide area have a double effect.
It makes a difference whether I am walking through the imposing complex of Angkor Wat, surrounded by a square of water laid out like the temple itself and embedded in a subtropical jungle, through one of the entrance gates of the former capital of the Khmer Empire, or whether I am taking a walk look at the Cologne Cathedral in the middle of Cologne. Although it is older and of course also impressive.

Bayon, tempele of Angkor Thom

In the Angkor Archaeological Park there are a number of temples built in the Middle Ages and the surrounding complexes, some even older than the most important temple Angkor Wat, as well as parts of the former royal palace and the capital of the Khmer empire. But this park is fascinating because of its size. The huge area, which is still partially overgrown by jungle, quickly makes you forget the here-and-now, especially at the more remote temples such as the Ta Nei or the Preah Khan temple, which have decayed to a higher degree. At the Ta Nei temple in particular, you are almost alone with one of the park guards, while at Angkor Wat or at the Ta Phrom temple, visitors step on each other’s feet.

Südlicher Zugang nach Angkor Thom
South entrance to Angkor Thom, old capital of the Khmer Empire

The usual means of transport in the park is the tuk tuk or motorcycle with a coach trailer, as well as many minibuses, because large touring coaches cannot reach all corners due to the sometimes narrow streets. But a bicycle is also ideal and there are many tour organizers in Siem Reap who also rent bicycles. Simple bikes that are modeled on Dutch bikes up to mountain bikes of quite good quality, but they are used by only a fraction of the visitors. From Siem Reaps center it is only about 7 km to the park, about 8.5 km to the main entrance of Angkor Wat, but if you want to explore more temples, even a small round, you quickly add about 25 – 30 km and you still haven’t seen much.
If you have to buy a ticket first (which is the normal case), then you have to add about 5 kilometers, because the ticket sale takes place at a fairly new visitor center, which is, however, outrageously far from the access road. However, there is hardly a place at the park borders that can handle the current flow of visitors – and the trend is rising.

As I said at the beginning: the stones are fascinating. I myself am always available for something like that and have now traveled about 32 – 38 kilometers at each of my four visits to Angkor Park.

Here are just a few more impressions …



Posted in Cambodia

From Poi Pet to Siem Reap

Ultimately, there are three stages in which I divide the Poi Pet – Siem Reap route. The first part to Sisophon is a very short distance. Breakfast is again included in the room price, I order an omelette and as a hot drink I get a slightly spicy coffee. On the veranda of the Ly Heng Chhay Hotel, you can sit comfortably in the shade of the roof, as water trickles around the wooden frame from top to bottom. The traffic passing about 15 meters away is not what you want when having breakfast, but it is full of variety. There are mopeds, cargo motorcycles, single-axle tractors with long trailers, coaches, trucks and, of course, the wide city SUVs, all-wheel drive, dark-glazed, and also simple cars that make up the traffic, sometimes sneak past, sometimes with a high-revving engine rush, and the horns annoying again and again. A behavior that I will have to get used to in the near future. At around 10 a.m., I head east.
The little post office that I found yesterday afternoon is unfortunately closed today. The officer wanted to be there because he had something to do, as he told me. But he is not there. So I won’t get rid of my already written mail until Monday.

Yes, the city is booming. It is being rebuilt in many places. Houses are sometimes very narrow and here the structural steel for later construction does not protrude from the walls upwards as in many southern European countries, but laterally from the walls so that there can be added later. A finished pointed roof is already on top of the two, sometimes three floors. But there is no asphalt off the main road, the closest parallel roads are concreted, most of them just simple uneven slopes.

I quickly realize that the consideration (which I often feel) of two-wheelers riding on the roadside in Thailand must have gotten stuck in front of the border. Here in Poi Pet you are rather ignored and marginalized and later on the route hardly anyone pays attention to the weaker traffic. If someone wants to drive onto the trunk road from an entrance or junction and there are no larger vehicles in sight, they just drive off, supposing that the two-wheeler will probably stop. And in general, the horn is used diligently to indicate that – whoops – that someone is coming.
What was a broadly marked edge of the road in Thailand, reserved for mopeds and teams, is here a dusty, sometimes sandy matter with no clear marking. The dirt from the street also collects on the verge, but at least there is one.
At a roundabout the tarmac is suddenly missing, I can see the dust cloud already from afar. But it is only this one point without a hard surface and over the next few kilometers the traffic gradually equalizes and a few kilometers outside of Poi Pet containers are handled on a dusty surface, and behind this spot the truck traffic also decreases significantly.


I am now driving in an easterly direction and I am still a bit lucky with the wind, which is currently coming mainly from the south and at least not noticeably influencing my pace. Otherwise the landscape is unspectacular. Dry, harvested rice areas, or simply wasteland – flat and wide. As in Thailand, temples and monasteries are more or less close to the street. The access routes here always lead through open archways, which, however, are more simply decorated than those of Thai temples.

I stop at one of the decorated archways and want to take a picture. Immediately children come running from the area behind, make faxes and also want to be photographed. “Hello!”, “Helloo!”, is called shrill.

In Thailand, people were more reserved, children were in school during the day until late in the afternoon and greeted at most curiously. Sometimes they laughed at my appearance, but were never pushy.
Here they shout “Hello!” after or towards me.
In the area of another ‘Wat’, where I want to watch at the many animal figures there, a boy immediately comes running and starts to beg. I don’t understand him, but at least it gives me this impression. Girls are more reserved than boys and give friendly greetings.


I want to eat something in the early afternoon, but it is not as easy as in Thailand, because the selection of outpatient food stalls or restaurants is not very large. In the village of Tuek Thla, just a few kilometers before Sisophon, I spontaneously stop at a woman’s stall where I see a few closed pots lined up next to each other. She has various meat dishes with different vegetables in more or less opaque sauces, as well as cooked fish with ginger, carrots and pumpkin.
I then eat it of this fish together with a plate of sticky rice, and apart from the many bones of the fish, that’s not bad at all.

Just before Sisophon, the only change in the landscape is a few small elevations from larger rocks. From a distance it looks like a mountain range, but it’s isolated, isolated hills. There is a larger monastery at one of them and a military base a few hundred meters away.
In the city there are several hotels and at least one guest house, a little off the main street, in which I also find an inexpensive room.
I still have to get used to playing with the different currencies in Cambodia, even though I haven’t changed any money in Poi Pet yet, as I have enough US dollars as a reserve for a few days anyway. But I had already ‘exchanged’ a few thousand Cambodian riels when buying the stamps and postcards and now had an overview of three currencies. Because Baht are also accepted here in this region.

The landlady wants 25,000 Riel for the room without air conditioning, which corresponds to about 5.40 Euros. She also takes Thai Baht, or of course US Dollars, which is the main currency used here in the country. Since I still have enough Baht, I give the woman a thousand Baht bill and get 95,000 KHR change back after deducting the room price. So for the moment, I also save myself the search for a money changer. However, the thousands soon run through my fingers again.

The city of Sisophon is also a junction of National Road 6 eastwards, to Siem Reap and further to Phnom Phen, and Road 5 southwards to Battambang, a larger city that many tourists like to visit because of its colonial architecture, as well as to the north, where there is a protected landscape area in the Banteay region. So in the evening I meet some French people in a larger local restaurant on the outskirts of the city that a French woman recommended and in the morning, in another restaurant right next to the two hotels, which unfortunately was closed in the evening, some people from Germany, who must have stayed here, too.
A party had taken place somewhere in the city that evening. The music was heard all afternoon from an undetermined direction. Even when I visited the monastery / temple on the rocky hill about 2 kilometers before the city just before sunset, music could be heard from somewhere. Cambodian hits, snotty music that somehow sounds scary. Sometimes there was music in other places, too. In Poi Pet, a workshop operator had diagonally sounded music from his amplifier across the street from my hotel there.


The next day I drive from Sisophon relatively late towards the east. The wind is still helping me, so I don’t have to worry about the time I need to cover the 54 kilometers. Nevertheless, driving on the now deteriorating asphalt is tiring me more and more. After less than 30 kilometers, I meet a Swiss man, a little older than me, and head west with his bike. He has been traveling in Vietnam and Laos for a few weeks and still wants to meet friends in Thailand before flying back home. The encounters have become a little rarer since Bangkok.

Shortly afterwards I take a short break at a young family’s snack bar on the outskirts of Rohal and drink a chilled cola. I eat later in Kralanh after I have found a room in another, fairly simple guest house. After all, there is air conditioning and it costs US $ 12 for the night.
Kralanh is somehow the typical street village. Apart from the school and district administration, two guest houses (one of which seems to be closed) and two banks, there are hardly any larger buildings. But workshops, mini shops and flying traders are lined up along the street, in the area of ​​a central intersection also the usual, simple restaurants, where there are a few tables and chairs under a tin canopy, but all of them in the early afternoon, and some even in the evening, do not operate.

The young women, whom I have the vegetables collected from two meat pots and then eat with rice, also try to sell their chilled drinks and packaged biscuits, rice cakes and other nibbles to stopping drivers. This business is going surprisingly well. Sometimes someone takes a portion of the dishes out of the pots, filled in transparent bags, the usual way of transporting the ‘take away’ gastronomy in Thailand and Malaysia.

The Da Gamnan Guesthouse is very busy at night, people move from room to room, there is constant loud talking or laughing. I keep waking up from the noise.
The next morning I start looking for breakfast and lo and behold, in the many small restaurants closed the day before, the tables are now largely occupied and the mini kitchens are in operation.
I do not want to eat rice in the morning, so ask for pasta and would like fried egg and get a bowl of noodle soup with rice noodles and vegetables and a fried egg with a glass of delicious coffee – well, it works.

When I start the last 50 kilometers towards Siem Reap, I quickly notice that the wind has changed a bit. It now comes from the south-east and almost towards me again.
I meet a young couple of cyclists from the Czech Republic shortly after breakfast. For the first time, young cyclists who are touring Asia with thoroughbred mountain bikes and extra wide tires. Their starting point is New Zealand and they want to drive straight home in the next nine months. This is the reverse option, as many Europeans tend to drive from home to Southeast Asia.
We only have a short chat, I don’t want to stop them and we wish each other good luck.

Until Siem Reap, the landscape changes a little. Rice continues to be grown on a large scale, but it is becoming greener overall. Field paths off the road are increasingly lined with rows of trees, eucalyptus, teak and other woods are broken up by coconut and other palm trees. Sometimes the palm trees are loosely in between. Private residential properties away from the street are also often planted closely.
In one of the villages I come through, there are a number of sculpture workshops side by side. There is probably a clay pit or other source for the base material somewhere nearby. The various Buddha variants and animal figures on a scale of 1: 1 can be bought directly from the manufacturer.

Since I finally have the time, I take a closer look at a monastery about 1 km off the road. The driveway there is closely planted with trees and shady, but the supposedly gravel slope turns out to be a brittle, dilapidated concrete road, the rough remnants of which are roughly as difficult to drive as cobblestones in Brandenburg. So it takes me much longer than expected.
But when else do I see such an ensemble of turrets, shrines and tombstones? – every monastery is ultimately unique and if I were seriously interested in it, I would have to stop a lot more often. So I just take a few photos and work my way back down the road on that bad track.

Ak Yum – Tempelruine bei Siem Reap

A few kilometers before Siem Reap, the development along the road increases significantly and at a large reservoir north of the road I turn onto a slope that leads about three to four kilometers along the reservoir through forest to a first temple ruin (Ak Yum) of the Khmer period, so to speak as a foretaste of the next few days in the ruins of Angkor.

Posted in Cambodia

Into Cambodia

Cake for breakfast and dry bread from last night, with a slightly sour pickled mango and hot water for the coffee powder. Sometimes breakfast just has to be canceled. When the sun rose shortly after half past seven, it still looked peaceful, but now that I leave shortly after half past ten, the thermometer shows 31° C in the shade again, which rises quickly.


I quickly drove out of Sa Kaeo and lined up on the left side of Route 33, which is also signposted as Asia Highway 1. There is now a bit more heavy traffic on the road again, mostly unloaded trucks that dance across the asphalt at far too high speeds. Later, these or similar teams meet me on the other side of the street, overloaded with sugar cane. The sugar refinery lies

With a light tail wind, driving is still quite fast on this wide road. More or less undisturbed on the wide hard shoulder, except for occasionally parked vehicles. In Watthana Nakhon I take a longer break after about 33 km at a petrol station with a rest area, with an air-conditioned café and with a further, simply covered restaurant hall.
When I get off my bike in front of the restaurant, a middle-aged Thai man speaks to me. He would have seen me on the road on the way and would find it fascinating that I would ride the bike and all my luggage and at such a relatively high speed in this part of the world, and he wishes me good luck.
The offer from the existing pots is unfortunately very meat-heavy, so I eat a portion of rice with the rest of the existing vegetables, two eggs and a little chicken.
Until Aranyaprathet I drive a little more than an hour in the midday heat, hand in a card at the local post office and slowly roll on to the border.


The entry to Cambodia is then much less problematic than I expected. You don’t have to believe all the stories of travel guides just because of the fact that they are printed in a book. If you obviously make a mistake somewhere, someone will come who shows you where the relevant counter windows can be found or where you should park your bike.
It’s actually quite simple: get a farewell stamp from Thailand at the local border police, a farewell photo will be taken right away, then roll about 300 meters through the no man’s land and change the road side to the Cambodian side of the border, because oncoming traffic does the same. In Cambodia the traffic is right-handed again.
The casinos that I pass are highly visible, the entrance to the Immigration Office behind them is hardly to recognize instead, but an official shows me where the counters are in the barrack. If you pay attention to it, then suddenly you see the signs.
Fill out the entry slip and line it up, but it doesn’t take long. Passport main page and visa are scanned, fingerprints are not taken. The official then skilfully compiled three stamps into one on paper, as well as on the entry slip, half of which was stuck in the passport again, and I was allowed to stay in the country for 30 days. Would they be enough to deal with the culture shock?

In any case, the town of Poipet connects seamlessly to the border, and here the travel guide is right: it is a dusty, booming nest.