Angkor Adventure (Cambodia) 2013
ANGKOR ADVENTURE 2013
The group had planned to carry out our first overland charity ride to Cambodia. We had chosen Cambodia because of it social demographic and also its access to better facilities as well as aid from other countries. Although we are not looking at billion dollars investment/aid to the country, we believe that the people in Cambodia would be better off with what little we could do to help their situation. Therefore the group of us had planned a charity ride to Cambodia, carrying our loads of charity items on our bikes across Malaysia, Thailand and into Cambodia. For this ride we had to plan and coordinate to collection of charitable items from donors, packing them so that we can transport them on our bikes as well as other land transport arrangement that had to be made for border crossings. We will also be having our other halves joining us in Phnom Penh to carry out the charity. They will then travel with us on our bikes (after delivery of charity items) and head towards the town of Siem Reap. Here we shall be visiting major places of interest of Cambodia together before they depart on a flight home to Singapore via Siem Reap.
Join Us On Our Adventure!!!
As this ride took place way before the author had started vlogging or blogging about his rides...therefore mostly his personal daily diary logs as well as photos are available to be shared.
The Participants for this ride
Reza (Red Baron)
Our Overlanding Ponies
Yamaha Tenere XT1200
Triumph Tiger 1200
Yamaha Tenere XT1200
Kawasaki GTR 1200
BMW R1200 GSA
Yamaha Tenere XT1200
BMW R1200 GSA
Pre Trip Preparation
For the preparation for the trip we had done our own collection of charity donations. These donation ranges from stationery and clothes. We had also printed some stickers and tshirt to commemorate the trip.
A Summary of our trip through Google Slides
Our Beneficiaries for this charity ride.
Viet Nam School
Tan Le Sap
Phnom Penh Orphanage
OUR TRIP IN PHOTOS
Singapore - Hatyai ----> via flight----> Pattaya
800km of riding
880km on the road for a night ride. We departed Singapore at 12 midnight and headed straight to the town of Hatyai in Sadao, Thailand. We had made prior arrangement to put our bikes and cargo up on a truck and have them trucked over to Pattaya in Chonburi, Thailand. The decision for this was to ensure that riders will not be too tired carrying the load on their bikes throughout the whole journey as well as for safety reason as some of us are carrying overflowing packages strapped to our bikes. At the same time, this will help to cut down the total number of days that we would need to spend for this trip. We had planned a 10 days trip for most of us while others had about 12 to 13 days of time to spare. This was the solution to our problem in order to be able to meet our dates. Once the bikes are loaded and trucked over to Pattaya (estimated 12 hours), the riders would take a 2 hour flight to Bangkok Don Muang airport and then do a land transfer to Pattaya on a minibus. The cost of the trucking cost about 200 Singapore dollars per bike and the flight is about 40 dollars per person. The transfer of minibus is about 10 000 baht per bus. So overall, the cost is quite reasonable when shared by 11 persons.
Nothing really exciting about this first day except for rushing to the border due to road closure around Butterworth, Penang area which actually delayed our plans a little. But we made it in time for loading of bikes and getting ourselves to catch a flight at the airport. We had met some of our Malaysian friends enroute to Hatyai at the borders. they themselves were enjoying the weekend riding in Thailand.
Our bikes arrived at midnight at the end of the first day, we had to unload the bike helping one another. Once unload we park the bike for the night since it was already late into the night. We will get the bikes prepped up in the morning.
Pattaya - Koh Kong
For Day 2, our main objectives is to crossed over into Cambodia safely and with minimal fuss especially since we are carrying "goods" over. We have heard of stories where customs officials would tax on the charitable donations that are brought into Cambodia as they deemed it as you are bringing goods into the country amid it being used items or for charity. There were also rumours of difficult border crossing at some of the checkpoints that connect Thailand with Cambodia. As such we chose the easiest border (that we had researched on) to get into Cambodia...that is the Trat (Thailand) - Koh Kong (Cambodia) Border. None of us had been into Cambodia before but we had heard of stories as well as based on our research we could expect what would be in store for us. There are many horror stories of bikes being turned around and refused entry as well as unscrupulous immigration/custom official who would try to make some bucks from you.
Getting out of Thailand was quite simple as we entered but the paperwork for Cambodia is a different thing. There were always fixers who would hand around the immigration areas hoping to make some money out of your tips. They would direct you to the various channels and booth to get your paperwork done. We had to pay USD 1 for a health check that naturally did not take place and USD 2 for the immigration officials to stamp your passport. We decided not to haggle with them as we do not want to mess our entry into Cambodia in fear that our paperwork may not be in order and we are deemed as illegal immigrants. Then at the customs booth, the officials requested for an amount for our bikes to be brought in. We knew through our research that this was not necessary however as we do not want to make our time miserable since we cannot communicate in a common language, we decided to thro USD 5 per bike. They accepted the amount and in no time our bikes are rolling onto Cambodian soil. Cambodia is a left-hand drive country so we had to get used to being on the opposite side of the road. We have to take careful consideration to overtake on the left as well as staying in the correct lanes after making a turn at a junction. At that point of time, there is a silly rule that all vehicles' headlamp must be switched off during the day time except for government officials/vehicles (this rule is no longer in force)...therefore we had to modify using cardboard or cloths and tape to cover our headlamp. If there is one rule you need to remember while riding or driving in Cambodia....just remember the bigger vehicle has the right of way and the smaller vehicle are expected to give way or get out of the way (unspoken rule).
We headed down to the first town in Cambodia that is Koh Kong. We had planned this stop as we did not know how long we would take at the border so rather than push on and get stuck in between major towns in the night, we had decided it is best that we spent the night in this border town and push on early tomorrow morning. We were also surprised that there is a small muslim population in the town of Koh Kong....this was probably because in the olden days the Bajau (boat people) people as well as the malay archipelago was actively trading around the gulf of Thailand as well as off the coast of Cambodia. Therefore there has been some muslims who had resided around these areas.
Koh Kong - Phnom Penh
An early start today as we are expected to ride the full day today. We have heard of many stories of Cambodian road but today finally we get to experience it ourselves. What that may look like a highway on google map.... are just red clay roads in real life...yes that is the state of their highway at that point of time. Mostly red clay and occasionally some small broken stones laid out to signify a road. we do not really get to see. nice beautiful roads here in Cambodia. We could not go fast on our big bikes as most of us were very cautious. We did however take turns at falling at some point of time. The journey passes through some forest reserves and villages. They were good things as I enjoyed experiencing the real life and cultures of the people. Often we find stops to rest and "chit chat' with the locals. They are often intrigued with the size of our bikes and would often gather around the bike when they are parked. Once or twice there would be a friwndly villagers who would try to initiate a conversation in their own language, we would return back in ours but with certain hand signs to help them understand what we are saying.
As luck would have it...we entered a huge rainstorm enroute into Phnom Penh. I guess the drainage in Phnom Penh was not able to take away the heavy downpour and in no time....a flood has occured. The water level rose so fast that at one point of time it was at my knee level when seated on the bike. Not to mention the potholes that we encountered (some as big as a truck). So we had the adventure bikes to lead the way so that other riders may be able to anticipate and dips in the road as the flood water prevent us from being able to read the road. Even myself and Ebrahim were skeptical as some point of time as it was really hard to differentiate the path of the road and the canal that runs along the road (no barriers). It gets really hard to differentiate as when. traffic builds up, cars and other vehicles would overtake one another from all directions hence making it difficult for us t actually guess where the actual road was. small bikes were weaving through traffic and on pavements at times. After travelling through the flood for a while, our GSAs got overheated as they were air-cooled machine and being stuck in a traffic jam does not help the bike to cool down the boxer engine. We had to stop by the roadside at night and watch the lights from the vehicles passes by. The shopowner who was actually closing her shop offered us chairs and a hot drink while we wait out the traffic and our bike to cool down.
We arrived at the hotel later that night and washed up and hang our dirty and wet riding attire. Our partner (wives and girlfriends & friends) will be arriving by aeroplane tomorrow. They will be landing in Phnom Penh at about noon to join us on our adventure.
After breakfast, the three of us Vincent, Ebrahim and me headed out to the Phnom Penh International airport to welcome our wives and friends flying in on the morning flight. Phnom Penh airport was a small airport amid it being an international terminal. It was a one storey building and you can practically see the airplanes on the tarmac. We had arranged for a van for our friends to travel in Cambodia while our wives would pillion us for the trip.
Our first visit in the afternoon was the killing fields of Phnom Penh and also the Tuol Sleng Genocide museum.
Tuol Sleng Museum
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum or simply Tuol Sleng is a museum chronicling the Cambodian genocide. Located in Phnom Penh, the site is a former secondary school which was used as Security Prison 21 by the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 until its fall in 1979. Formerly the Tuol Svay Pray High School, named after a royal ancestor of King Norodom Sihanouk, the five buildings of the complex were converted in March or April 1976 into a prison and interrogation center. Before other buildings in town were used already as prison S-21. The Khmer Rouge renamed the complex "Security Prison 21" (S-21) and construction began to adapt the prison to the inmates: the buildings were enclosed in electrified barbed wire, the classrooms converted into tiny prison and torture chambers, and all windows were covered with iron bars and barbed wire to prevent escapes and suicides.
Choeung Ek Killing Fields
A video giving you a tour of the killing fields
in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Behind The Walls of S21
A short documentary on S21 Prison - for those interested to know more
From the killing fields and S21 Genocide Museum, we headed out to carry out our charity work. We went to an orphanage in Phnom Penh city to deliver some of our gifts to the children. We had brought stationery and books for the children residing at this orphanage. On the side also we had purchased some items to be given to the kids as well. We were given a tour of the centre and also attended some of their lessons (in Cambodian). We spent the evening walking around town, checking out their market and also visiting some bike showroom (orange is the colour).
Yes it is day 5 and we are still in Phnom Penh. We had decided during our planning that we would spend more time in Phnom Penh for our charity work especially since our wives and friends are joining us to carry out the charity work. Today we will be visiting the Lighthouse foundation of phnom Penh,
We had a tour of the facilities and contributed some money to carry out the purchase of necessities for the organisation. it is not easy for these organisation to survive on what little government grants and also donations from NGOs from around the world. We wnet to purchase some bags of rice and also medications that are most commonly needed by the residents. On top of that we also went to the market to purchase some meats and vegetables so that they can have a feast for that night.
Phnom Penh - Siem Reap
Siem Reap - Angkor Temple Complex (UNESCO HERITAGE SITE)
Woke up early today to take a stroll and explore the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat. We walked around the complex visiting the different complexes such as the famously known temple of Ta Phrom that was featured in the show of Tomb Raider. Angkor Thom was my favourite, it was more like a castle used to house the kings, You need good steady pair of legs to climb up the narrow steps.
A brief introduction of Angkor TemplesDo you
Do you know that it has been said that Angkor complex is sinking?
Siem Reap - A journey to Ton Le Sap
Today is another charity day in the water village of Ton Le Sap. Let me give a brief background of Ton Le Sap.
Ton Le Sap - A UNESCO World Biosphere
Tonle Sap, Khmer Bœng Tônlé Sab, natural floodplain reservoir, central Cambodia. The lake is drained during the dry season by the Sab River (Tônlé Sab) across the Véal Pôc plain southeastward to the Mekong River. Called by the French Grand Lac (“Great Lake”), the lake is fed by numerous erratic tributaries and also by the Srêng and Sên rivers, which are perennial northern tributaries. During the June-to-November monsoonal regime, the swollen Mekong reverses the southeastward flow of the Sab River, which increases Tonle Sap’s area from about 1,050 square miles (2,700 square km) to about 4,000 square miles (10,360 square km); its depth also increases from 3–10 feet (0.9–3 m) to 30–45 feet (9–14 m), permitting vessels with 9 feet (3 m) of draft to navigate it up through the various tributaries, on which are situated the towns of Kompong Thom, Battambang and Pursat. During the rainy season the lake’s width increases from about 22 miles (35 km) to 65 miles (105 km). At low water it is little more than a reed-infested swamp, with channels for fishing craft. The lake, the largest freshwater body in Southeast Asia, supports a large carp-breeding and carp-harvesting industry, with numerous floating fishing villages inhabited largely by ethnic Vietnamese. The fermented and salted fish are staples of the Cambodian diet. UNESCO designated Tonle Sap a World Network Biosphere Reserve in 1997 - Britanica.com
So the village that we went to is also funded by UNICEF. They take in vietnamese children refugees who has no citizenship rights. As such these children would be living within the waters of Ton Le Sap and will not be allowed to leave the lake. There are also children of the villagers who also attend the school as well. Again we also bought some sacks of rice to be distributed to the kitchen of the school so as to offset some of running cost at least for a month's worth. We managed to observe a class in progress as well as observe the kids at play.
Siem Reap - Kabin Buri
Today is another rush day in terms of the things to be done mainly for myself , Ebrahim and Vincent. While the rest depart and leaves Cambodia for Thailand, we three sent our wives and friends back to the airport for their mid afternoon flight home to SIngapore. After we had sent them off, we had to rush to the border of Aryanphrathet to exit Cambodia before the border closed at 6pm. Just nice as we passed through the border, we heard the Thai national anthem being played on the speaker signalling it is 6pm. The whole street stood at a standstill in respect of the national anthem. It was a sight to behold.
From here we made our way to our stop for the night in Kabin Buri.
Kabin Buri - Hua Hin
Today we have to ride through Bangkok and try to bypass the busy traffic in downtown Bangkok. From here we head down to the seaside town of Hua Hin and spend the night there. BY the time we arrive in Hua HIn it was in the evening. We had time to find a suitable motel to stay in with safe parking and wash up. Immediately after wash up we made our way to the famous Hua Hin Night Market. We did try some of the street food and walk through the shopping area in the night market to look at the goods. As usual the night market was filled with tourist as well as locals.
Hua Hin - Hatyai
Hatyai - Singapore