20th to 22nd November

Wednesday 20 November

We get up at 6am today. We have big plates of fried rice for breakfast, the day is going to be long! We say goodbye to the restaurant we used to go, and also to the bicycle shop that helped us a lot for the reparations. Then we go to the LAIS: Lucky Angkor International School. We have been invited there by a Philippine professor at that school, Eric. The school does not have many students. The classes are given in English, so the children, aged between 8 and 12, can understand us perfectly. It’s funny, they are very shy, only two of them dare to ask questions. After a small explanation of our bikes, we start our day.

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Today, we have to use the mask, especially in Siem Reap, due to the important traffic. After cycling around half an hour, we arrive near a temple! why not have a short glance at it?

The road today is quite similar as the day we rode to Siem Reap, with rural Cambodia, and beautiful, vast landscapes, with rice paddies. Along the road, many children salute us! when we ride, we very often hear a distant “Hello hello!”, after a few seconds looking for where the sound come from, we find a little kid agitating his hands. And when we salute him back, his smile is so shining!

After the big breakfast we had, we do not need to have lunch so early. So we will bike till our destination, the city of Stoung, some 100km after Siem Reap, and eat dinner there. On the way, we cross the town of Kampong Kdei, with a superb bridge. The bridge is around one thousand years old, built in the same style as the Angkor temples.

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In the entrance of Kampong Kdei, we meet a fellow cyclotraveller. His name is José, from Mexico. He is also going to Phnom Penh. He’s been travelling in Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran, Malaysia and Thailand for 4 months. We will find a guest house together tonight, and then continue together till Phnom Penh. In Stoung, there is not a big choice of guest houses! in fact we find only one that has a double room free. No problem, we’ll sleep three inside. We go for dinner in the village. It’s all dark in the village, the main street is totally dark. We finally find an open restaurant. They serve rice with some ginger chicken, so good! As there is no wifi in the guest house, we will go to bed early tonight, and get up early tomorrow. That’s not a bad thing.

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Thursday 21 November

We get up at 6 and have breakfast in the city. The food is good, but the restaurant owner makes us pay more than the locals! it leaves a bitter taste. Today, we are three in the team, it’s going quite fast. There is quite a lot of traffic! and always the children saluting us on the way. We do several pauses on the way, to taste some local food and drink. Here we eat deep fried banana, there we take sugarcane juice! It’s just like water and sugar, plus a little of lime: refreshing, very good, and it brings a lot of rapid sugar.

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We see many children going to school. They all have a uniform: white shirt and marine blue trousers for the boys, white shirt and marine skirt for the girls. Most of them go to school on old, oversized bicycles! when the school just finishes, you can see dozens of children on the side of the road, all dressed the same, going home.

The second part of the morning is much more fastidious: they are improving the road and so half of the road is full of sand and dust. And regularly, the side of the road is closed by barriers and machine. Add to this the heat, strong sun, and an important traffic. Sometimes, the cars pass by very fast and very close to us, less than 20cm. Despite the sugarcane juice, we get tired quite quickly. Around 14h, we decide to have a break, and take lunch. We find a nice restaurant, with ginger chicken. We are about to continue our route when we meet a couple of cyclotravellers, going in the other directions. They are Benjamin and Anne, from France. They left Lyon last February and plan to go until Singapore (http://www.passelegrandplateau.fr/). After talking a while, we decide to all sleep here, and have dinner together tonight. We find a guesthouse in the city where we are, Kampong Thnom. In the end, we biked 90km today, and we’ll have 130km tomorrow.

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We take dinner nearby. In the meantime, we find out that Klaus, the Danish traveller we met two days ago is also staying in the same guesthouse. The dinner goes very fast, with Klaus telling many of the stories he had while travelling in South East Asia.

Tonight, we manage to go to sleep early, tomorrow will also be a tough day.

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Friday 22 November

Today, we get up early, and have a quick fruity breakfast in the room. Then we leave for Phnom Penh. We stop quite soon, to take a real breakfast, noodle soup and rice with meat. Just as we start again to cycle, Juju does another show. As he is getting angry at his already not working MP3 player, he does some swerves with his bikes. One on the left, and then correct too much to the right! he leaves the road on the side, and falls on the small slope. Unfortunately, just under the slope, there is a little swamp! he is totally wet. A few locals have seen the fall, and cannot help but bursting into laughing. And of course they come straight to help Juju to take his bike up to the road. For him, no problem, no pain, nor anything broken on the bike. Just totally wet. After this, the trip continues smoothly. We stop in the morning to take some glasses of sugar cane juice.

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We arrive in Skuon around 12h. All the travellers we have crossed on the way told us to stop in this city to try the specialty: fried spider. In fact, we had already pinned this city for the spiders. It’s pretty easy to find a stand with someone selling spiders. As we ask for the price, she takes the basin of fried spiders away, and starts to hand us a real, live spider! It’s huge, 10cm in diameter, totally black, with a big body, and very hairy legs. After some hesitation, we finally accept to take it, and let it walk on our hands. It’s a quite funny feeling. Although it looks impressive, the animal is very calm. After playing with the food, we try eating it. The legs are quite good, mainly because it has the taste of the sauce, it’s crunchy, and has nearly no meat. The body has a quite worse taste. To recover, we take a real lunch in the city of Skuon.

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In the afternoon, we cycle quite intensively. From Skuon, we still have 75km to cover, and the night is coming soon. In addition, the weather, that since this morning has been cloudy, is becoming more threatening. We bought some sugarcane pieces that we can chew while biking. We cross the Mekong, some 25km before Phnom Penh. From here, the traffic becomes very dense. And the night is falling. it becomes stronger, until we are completely wet. But we continue to ride, because the house of Phavy should not be very far away. Phavy is a former classmate of Mickael in Madrid and Stockholm. Thanks to the GPS, we find her house quite easily.

He lives with her parents and brother in an old house, not very big, but on many floors. We are more than happy to take a clean shower after the rain we received. And after this, we have a nice dinner Phavy prepared us.

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