The day after Mom and Dad left Phuket, we took a flight to BKK. Was surreal that they were here a few days ago with us, but no worries, we shall see them soon at some point! After doing some laundry and getting the bike’s oil checked, we had to decide…where to next??? Nick had talked to his friend Prashanth a couple of days back after finding out that they were coming to do some tours in Cambodia. Prashanth and Anand run Indimotard which organizes riding tours in India ,Cambodia, Srilanka & beyond. We thought we had had enough and wanted to move on to Malaysia but the thought of leaving out much of Cambodia and all of Vietnam really bothered us. With Vietnam the issue was that getting a bike over 200 cc (our is 1200cc) into the country requires a lot of permits and a lot of money so it’s always been something we’ve been double-minded about. Finally after much contemplation, we decided, let’s just do it, let’s go to Cambodia and try Vietnam. I mean why not? We had a Cambodian e-visa we couldn’t use at the Don Det crossing and we had a Vietnam visa. All of it would just go to waste. Above all this gave us a great chance to finally meet Prashanth and Anand.
We started out of BKK kinda late and could only make it to Trat because of heavy rain. Trat is pretty close to the Cambodian border and to the coast so we felt comfortable about leaving some kilometers in Thailand for the next day. Getting from Thailand to Cambodia was again pretty easy, a little confusion on the Thailand side with customs paperwork. We had to get to Kep which was outside of Kampot to meet the guys. We rolled into Kep around 4pm and found it beautiful! The ocean was blue and swollen and the evening light made the water sparkle. From the road along the coast you can see a few abandoned French villas and there are markets selling fresh seafood. After checking out the town, we found the place where Prashanth and Anand were staying. It was a nice place and turned out to be one of the best places we’ve stayed in on this trip. The bungalow we stayed in was really spacious and was elevated so you could see the ocean. It felt like we were living in a tree house in the jungle on some island! Luckily when we got there, the guys had just made it in from riding some trails. It was great to finally meet Prashanth and Anand since Nick had always been in contact with them but never actually met them! The next day they made plans that Nick would join the group riding on some trails. Unfortunately Nick didn’t have any of his riding gear he usually wears when he goes trail riding so he had to go with his world tour riding gear which has been shorts and a long sleeve tee. Sending Nick off for trail riding felt like I was sending off my kid to school for the first time. We hadn’t been away from each other, even for a day in a long while. He was probably really happy to escape my neurotic-ness! While the guys went out I took care of other girl stuff and blogging etc. Was nice and relaxing! The guys ended up doing a few trails and stopping off at the crab market for lunch and swimming in a cave…sounds like a perfect day!
The next day Prashanth and Anand and the guys were going to head back to Phnom Penh. We figured we were so close to the Vietnam border (Prak Chak -Ha Tien), that we should try it. It didn’t take too long to get to the border. The Cambodian’s immigration was kind enough to let Nick and the bike go to the Vietnam border check point to ask if they would let us through. I waited on the other side chatting with the customs officers and watching the interesting traffic going through. It was a pretty fluid border (I guess since it’s a remote one) and people just kinda whizzed through on their bicycles or scootys. After about 30 minutes Nick came back. The Vietnamese side said that we could leave the bike in Ha Tien since it was a special economic zone, and then take a bus to Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC from here on out). But we definitely could not ride the bike outside of Ha Tien. Border towns are always a little shady, so we decided ehh better not. Instead we rode to Phnom Penh. On the way we had an amazing lunch at a random roadside restaurant. They served up skewered pork, a crepe filled with some sort of sausage and bean spouts, peanut sauce, and a super refreshing shredded cucumber salad. Khmer food has been so delicious…from the amok to the lok lak. Not as bold as Thai food but good flavors. Outside of Phnom Penh we stopped at the Killing Fields. The area was about to close so we had to hurry a bit. There is a huge pagoda filled with the bones of those killed during Khmer Rouge rule as well as the mass graves that were dug up to retrieve the remains. After rain they say that clothes, bones and teeth sometimes resurface. Some people had found some I guess because there were teeth and bones stacked up on the glass cases. As we walked along the dirt track, we too found a bone sticking out of the dirt trail (it had rained a couple of days before). It was unsettling, creepy, and a little heart-wrenching. We couldn’t bring ourselves to take it out of the earth.
Upon getting to Phnom Penh we had to find a place to stay. Usually we ride around and find something but we couldn’t find much so we had to resort to the Lonely Planet book. We found a good clean, friendly place to stay which allowed us to keep the bike in Phnom Penh for $2/day. They had a security guard as well so it made us feel a lot better. That night we booked a bus ticket from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City and reduced our luggage down to our small waterproof bag and a small backpack! Couldn’t believe we were going to Vietnam!!!