Dedicated to a wonderful Mother Jean Noble 31/5/1929 - 20/8/2007 - may we never take our mothers for granted. - Goodbye Mum

CAMBODIA(KAMPUCHEA) PAGE 2 JANUARY 2009

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Lao-Cambodia border crossing Inc. Pictures - Jan 09

Prices in Aussie/US Dollars

Saturday 10th January Kratie to Chhloung
Approx.
39.92 k's Average Speed 10.57 kph Cycling time 3 Hr(s) 46 Min. Max speed. 20 kph Max temp 35°C
Terrain:
Undulating Road Conditions: Gravel/Bitumen Overnight Accom: (US$9.00) $13.50 Standard, Poor

We were told of an alternate route along the Mekong River, we were also told the road was good. Wrong! The road was terrible, gravel for about 25 k's. We had to stop and buy “masks” to cover our nose and mouth, such was the clouds of dust.



They are on sale everywhere for the locals and only cost about AUD$0.20c, for a double lined good cloth one.


Parts of the road were washed out, leaving us struggling to get through....



There was evidence of roadworks, hence you – if you come this way – may encounter a totally different experience...

The communities in this area are mainly Muslim, with a few Buddhist, however, the poverty is just the same... They ALL were VERY friendly folk and gave us a rousing welcome.. Some lived in shanties on the tributaries feeding into the Mekong river...


Where fishing and gathering shellfish were the main source of income...

Not sure I should write this? But, it is an interesting “sociological” phenomena, (one I would expect to see in more primitive African Tribes), MANY children (boys and girls) up to, pre-pubescence, walked around totally naked and completely ignored. It is in NO way offensive to us, as it is clearly quite natural, however, it would be impossible in the fair city of Perth Australia, where we live – the parents would be arrested – I am not sure which is the saddest scenario – up to you to decide.

Also “interesting” (sociologically) a “Toyota Camry” stopped to take pictures, the lady in the car walked a couple of metres, untied her Sarong and in full view, squatted to relieve herself, her husband did the same and made no effort to move or take cover, he simply pee'd in full view (his back was turned) of Lee and myself. The Son (I presume) continued to snap photo's and ask what we were doing, where we were going, etc.. I need to be clear here, there was absolutely NO hint of exhibitionism whatsoever or ANYTHING un-toward – generally one can feel this.

(Just for the record, we did NOT take any pictures of any of the above phenomena) Should I have “written” about this????... You can “flame” me in the guestbook if you think otherwise :-)

We eventually came upon our destination.. Those following this diary will know that we do not always just “happen” upon accommodation. Today was no exception... There are about 5 or 6 guesthouse's in this town – all are poor quality and wanting very high prices. When we politely said no, the price came tumbling down, however, no shower(s) (cyclists NEED showers or “Mandie's”), terribly dirty, no facilities whatsoever... on and on.. We initially decided to cycle on, but our low average speed and the large distance to the next (possible) opportunity meant we had to choose the best we could get. We eventually found one out of town, with no English sign – that is, after turning around and cycling back. Cold shower, clean bed and noise our ear plugs can “just” cope with, meant we were in heaven...

Food was our next priority, we simply could not find someone prepared to give us veggies or anything approaching a non meat dish. So we chatted with (That is, said the only three words we know – following through with sign language) to a lady that prepares noodles – packet noodles – Then we went to one of the most unsanitary village markets you can possibly imagine and bought a variety of veggies for about 50 cents. The lady we had been chatting to, kindly washed them in a grey liquid, which we think was water, chopped them, on the multi purpose (unwashed) meat/veggie chopping board (yuk) then put our boiling noodles on top. Now we can only hope we do not get what is colloquially termed “Galloping Harry”...... I think you can guess what that is :-)

Sunday 11th January Chhloung to Tboung Khanum
Approx.
74.44 k's Average Speed 14.43 kph Cycling time 5 Hr(s) 9 Min. Max speed. 43 kph Max temp 32°C
Terrain:
Hilly Road Conditions: Bitumen Overnight Accom: (US$5.00) $7.50 Standard, Very Poor

A terrible phenomena we have encountered often in Asia, is the terrible treatment of Animals. Today was truly disturbing, countless Pigs were being transported on their backs, by motorcycle...... They were tied to the back with thin rope that MUST have cut into their soft underbelly... They were CLEARLY distressed as we watched in horror, many “bouncing” along the uneven road surface


Sometimes up to three at a time. What was even more cruel was those loaded in trucks, bound by their feet, upside down and LOADED ON TOP OF EACH OTHER...One can only imagine their dreadful suffering....

Bullock carts had horrendous loads, but seemed able to take them in their stride.... Although, often the harnesses seemed too light to be comfortable, for the Animals.


A lot of transport is also done with horses.....


However, in the main, these seemed better treated, with more appropriate harnesses....

A long day so cannot write too much tonight.... Catchya Later...

Monday 12th January Tboung Khanum to Kompong Chan
Approx.
31.12 k's Average Speed 12.55 kph Cycling time 2 Hr(s) 29 Min. Max speed. 34 kph Max temp 29°C
Terrain:
Hilly Road Conditions: Bitumen/better Overnight Accom: (US$12.00) $18.00 Standard, OK

A terrible night, virtually no sleep due to noise. I wrote my diary at 3.45 am. In most of Asia there is simply no concept of disturbing another. People are completely selfish and put their wants before the needs of anyone. Lee, my Asian wife is FAR more understanding of other cultures, we having traveled to 27 countries together. She has no answers, but is deeply affected by this callousnesses. I try not to mention it, as best I can, as nothing is achieved by repeatedly complaining.

However, last night at 2 am it was the last straw for her, she got out of bed, left the room and in “full voice”, gave “both barrels” to the offending parties, totally without any prompting from me... As they did not understand the language, they seemed to assume, she had “lost the plot” and continued their errant ways – Even though we achieved nothing, I was proud of her.

We decided on a short ride today, mainly due to exhaustion, we had originally planned about 70 k's, then Phnom Penh the next day.

Even bicycles here are heavily loaded, I clocked this guy at 12 kph with this huge load, even dragging one bag.....


How this guy stayed upright is simply a miracle... He was wobbling all over the road..... What's even more interesting, he successfully traversed a Police road block???? So did we :-)


After we had booked into our hotel, we met this French couple, touring on a tandem bike, they have been on the road for 8 months. The questioned us, in detail, about the performance of the “recumbent's”.


They said they were having difficulty with back and wrist pain and were reluctant to attempt a long distance – after a short ride on our “comfy” trikes, they were astounded.... Such was their enthusiasm, I would not be surprised if they “retire” their Tandem at some future date :-)

Catchya Later....

Tuesday 13th January Kompong Cham – Rest and explore day
Approx.
k's Average Speed kph Cycling time Hr(s) Min. Max speed. kph Max temp °C
Terrain:
Road Conditions: Overnight Accom: (US$) $.00 Standard,

A rest day to explore one of Cambodia's largest towns.

Wednesday 14th January Kompong Cham to Skun.
Approx.
50.45 k's Average Speed 13.55 kph Cycling time 3 Hr(s) 43 Min. Max speed. 37 kph Max temp 28°C
Terrain:
Flat to undulating Road Conditions: Poor Overnight Accom: (US$6.00) $9.00 Standard, Poor

A rough ride today, poor roads, lots of traffic took a lot of the enjoyment out of it. This truck was so overloaded they had to unload on the side of the road... It seemed to have bent the tray?


They weld extensions on the truck trays here, to increase the load they can carry – it does not always work.....

Well not much more to tell you today, so we will finish with our well worn vernacular – Catchya Later


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