Vendredi 15 Novembre

We get up at 4 am, and pack up our bikes quickly. We cross the city by night to go to the train station. We train to Aranyaprathet, Thailand’s last city before the border with Cambodia. As it is not possible to book tickets for this train in advance, and we also have the bicycles, we prefer to arrive at the station with a comfortable margin. We arrive there around 5, one hour before the train departure. The ticket price is super low, 48 bath per person (1.20€), but we have to pay more than the double to take the bikes inside. In fact, except for a small part (seats reserved for pregnant ladies and monks), the whole train is third class, with no numbered seats, but benches! and not enough for everyone. But we arrived early enough to be able to sit (and pressed like sardins).

The train takes at least two hours to cross Bangkok and its surroundings. Then we are more in the nature. The landscape we see is mainly composed of rice paddies. There are also some cows herds. As for wild animals, we see many birds: mostly cranes, egrets, some kind of plover. There is even a kingfisher, with its beautiful electric blue feather on the back. As we approach Cambodia, the landscape is more rural, less advances. We reach the city of Aranyaprathet at 12h30. We did not experience any problem with the bikes. First thing we do is to go to eat. Who knows how long it takes to cross the border, and if we can find good food in Cambodia. It’s our last Kao Pat.

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We exit Thailand, without any problem. In fact, we had our passports exchanged during this formality, and did not meet any problem. The road between the two borders is funny: since in Thailand you drive on the left, and in Cambodia on the right. The vehicles change side, following the flow, and driving slowly. But in the end, it goes quite smooth! no need to imagine complex interchanges. To enter Cambodia, it’s a little more work. First, we have to make the touristic visa: fill a form, give an ID picture, and pay 20$ + 100 bath. But it’s not all: after obtaining the visa, you need to fill an arrival card, to get a stamp on your passport. Here, there is one hour of queue.

After these formalities, and changing our remaining bath into Cambodian riel, we start cycling, finally. It’s already 15h15. We want to be tomorrow night in Siem Reap, the city next to Angkor Wat, that is 150km away. So we have a long way to go.

While pedalling, the first thing we notice is the strong wind in Cambodia. Mainly head wind, but it is sometimes changing. Also, we drive now on the right (in both meanings of the word!) side of the word, it’s so much more comfortable. With respect to Thailand, they drive much more with the horn here. We are on an important road, the one linking Thailand with Angkor Wat and then Phnom Penh. The traffic is important, but still fluid. They drive quite fast. We are on the side of the road, where there is a band of 1m of asphalted road, maybe reserved for cyclists!

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We see many locals near the road. And many children, who greet us with “Hello” and shaking arms. It is so heart-warming to see these natural smiles. We arrive in the village of Sosiphon around 17h15. The Sun will set in a dozen of minutes, so it’s time to find a place to sleep. By luck, there is a nice guest house in the village, with even a swimming pool.

Samedi 16 Novembre

After a good night for half of the team (Ju almost didn’t sleep, spending the night working on the computer!), we leave towards Siem Reap, which is the city in front of the more than famous Angkor Wat temples. 110 km of route, through the Cambodian countryside is waiting for us. Before taking off, we take the time for a good breakfast in the nearby street food shop. We are mostly happy to see that they have bread, it’s a change from our morning rice plate! Cambodia was part of Indochina, a former French colony. That’s probably why they still eat bread. However we don’t meet anybody who could speak French. Youth can speak decent English and therefore, they help us when we want to order our food at the restaurant. We notice that youth here speak better English than those from Thailand. Once we have eaten seven bread, we think it will be enough energy for a 8 hours ride. Let the fun begin! The route in the morning is peaceful; not much traffic and the sky is overcast. It gets better in the afternoon; the sun appears between the forming cumulonimbus and reveals a gorgeous and mesmerizing landscape! We cycle in a dream landscape. The road is totally straight, we don’t see the end; all around us we can contemplate rice fields with people working inside. They use little mechanic means, and so a lot of people is needed to harvest the rice. We are dazzled by so much green and blue today. On the way we meet Anne-Lise and Fred, two French touring cyclists, going around South East Asia.

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The day goes like this, really beautiful and great riding; until the first crash occurs! Ju, who is half sleeping didn’t see Mick stopping, crashed, flew, roll! and got up ! One of his bag is broken, one leg is bleeding, and the MP3 is missing. It could have been worse! The bag seems reparable, some antiseptic is used. One young kid also spontaneously stop to give us a hand on the quick reparation needed on the bike. but, the MP3 is still missing. We spend some time looking for it but, it probably flew in the nearby lake! Giving up we jump on our bikes again, cycle a few meters until! the second crash occurs ! Juju (still sleeping), didn’t see the scooter parked on the side of the road and crashed it!Aie aie aie, for him, it’s about time to go to sleep ! We still have about 50 km and it goes fine. We make a small break on the way, eating apples and longan with some locals. Ah yes, I forgot to say: there are so many people to welcome us on the way. Little kids shout hello when we pass by. Some make a race with us by bike. Sometimes we attach ourselves to a passing by tractor and can do a few km without much pain. Well, locals are really really friendly and welcoming. It feels really good ! In the evening, by sunset, we arrive in Siem Reap and stay at the Garden Village guesthouse, a youth hostel with Khmer style house. It’s very rustic but, it’s all we need in fact. We have a room of 4m x 4m, made totally of bamboo and with one mattress on the floor. This guesthouse must be in the Lonely Planet guide! we see dozens of Westerners, mainly Americans.

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And here are some moving images of Cambodia: