Oct
16
2009
0

Day 8 – Border to Ubon

We set off in the early morning from our place just 10 km into Thailand from the ช่องสะงำ border crossing. I had the great idea of trying to take a shortcut we had heard tell of. I don’t know if I picked the wrong road, or if the shortness of the route got lost in the potholes, hills, and rain. Rather muddy and wet we finally found a place for breakfast. Shortly after breakfast more rain drove us under the roof of a supply store. The owners were friendly, made conversation, and brought us water. We moved on.

We made good time along 24, stopping for a late lunch of ลาบ and ต้มปลา. After lunch we continued to move along. About the time we might have considered stopping for the day, Ubon was tantalizingly close (40km). We couldn’t stop.

My hands were quite tired of gripping the handle bars so I was riding without holding them when a large truck went by close and fast. The wind rocked me and I went for the handle bars and the brakes. I locked up my front wheel and despite all the extra weight of my bag on the back wheel I became aware of being a good deal higher than my handle bars. Before I could correct anything I was on the ground with my bike behind me. I’m not entirely sure of all the details. I do know by the time I went down I had slowed down considerably so there was very little sliding and scraping. Just a jarring of the wrists and a skinning up of the palms. Far less serious than it could have been. After a minute or two of settling we were back on the road, I with a pair of Mark’s clean socks between my hands and the handlebars.

As darkness was settling we pulled into the Warin Big C. We consumed a medium pizza, a pan of baked rice, fries, and wings. Refreshed we finished the journey in the dark (with both head and tail lights).

The extra push at the end put blisters on my seat and a tingling in my hands. Hopefully they’ll clear up quickly.

Written by Micah in: Uncategorized | Tags: ,
Oct
14
2009
0

Day 7 – Siem Reap to Thailand

This morning we left Siem Reap at about 6:00. We stopped after 13 km for breakfast. We reached Srei Noi around 10:00. It was a little too early to call it quits, so we had second breakfast and moved on We ate a late lunch in Anlong Veng. Where we stopped the proprietors were eating their meal between serving lunch and starting dinner, so they ordered for us from the restaurant next door.

Still not ready to call it a day, we pushed on to the border crossing. The last 5 km of the road in Cambodia are quite steep. We walked our bikes. At the top of the hill I saw a much wanted sign for a restroom and made for it. In my haste to find the restroom I was delighted to find that the proprietor spoke Thai. After taking care of necessities, I had a nice talk with her. She was very nice. She was from Thailand and was very proud of her piece of civilization on the Cambodian side of the mountain.

After she had allowed us the use of her restrooms and served us free clean ice water, I thought it good to buy something (not considering the early hour of sunset). After eating some well-prepared food we proceeded through the border. Everything went smoothly.

Once in Thailand it looked like we were going to have just enough light to make it to a room 10 km in. Having gone about a kilometer, Mark, while taking a picture, veered off course into my bike. Some part of my bike (left pedal?) took off the top of his front tube’s valve, quickly flattening the tire. Darkness fell as we replaced the tube. We realized that it was good Mark hadn’t been able to bring his patch kit and so had brought a spare.

As we resumed our decent, Mark noticed that his front rim was a bit bent up as well. Between the rim and the gathering dark, we were not able to take full pleasure in the long steep downhills, We arrived safely at our lodging for the night. The toilet is a squatter, and there is no hot water. We do, however, have both a fan and an air conditioner. The beds are quite doable.

Written by Micah in: Uncategorized | Tags: ,
Oct
13
2009
0

Day 6 – Bakong and Beyond

Today we started by journeying to Bakong in a hired motorcycle pulled cart. We then doubled back and picked up Preah Ko. At Preah Ko we witnessed restoration that was a bit aggressive for my tastes. They were rebricking and repillaring so as to make a 9th century building look like new. We wrapped up the Roluos Group with Lolei. It was fun because of its ruinous state. The piles of bricks at its base were something we had not seen. (We had seen piles of the bigger laterite blocks.)

On the way from Lolei to Kbal Spean, our driver stopped to fix a squeaky axle, then was pulled over for a traffic violation. Kbal Spean was a good break from ruins. We enjoyed a good wooded hike with the added bonuses of waterfalls and stream-bed carvings.

On the way back to Siem Reap we stopped at Banteay Srei. The intricacy and density of the carvings was stunning. The size of it was also striking; compared to many of the other temples we had visited, Banteay Srei felt like a dollhouse miniature. While we were there I bumped into three ladies from Thailand. I enjoyed our brief chat.

Upon our return to Siem Reap. Mark and I took our bikes out to try to find a bicycle mechanic. We found several. They all listened to the clicking of my chain against my rear derailleur and said there was nothing wrong.

Mark and I returned to our hotel and tried to clean out the rear derailleur with diesel. Buying the diesel was a fun adventure. We had trouble communicating our desire for a container so we ended up finding a used water bottle and using it. I don’t think the fuel station had ever sold a quarter liter of diesel before. We’ll see if my bike is any better tomorrow.

Written by Micah in: Uncategorized | Tags:
Oct
12
2009
0

Day 5 – Around Angkor

Today we traveled by bike past Angkor Wat in through the South Gate of Ankor Thom and out through the West Gate. The road out to the West Gate was unpaved. It felt good to be on the proverbial road less traveled. We continued past the West Gate in search of the West Baray (reservoir). We found a corner of Cambodia far less touched by the waves of tourists. After journeying for a while without encountering the Baray, we stopped and asked directions by pointing to a map. A grandfather with a bare tattooed chest showed us the way through some backyards to the Baray. I’m still not sure how one would go about constructing a reservoir of those proportions (8 km x 2.1 km) a thousand years ago.

Having had a nice break from touristville and rock ruins, we made our way to Preah Khan, another old stone dazzler. The bigness of stones, the intricacies of carvings, and romance of ruins again conspired to take my breath away.

Next we made our way to Neak Pean. These five grand pools used to sit in the cneter of a reservoir that bordered Preah Khan.

This is as fitting a time as any to say that throughout our journeys we bumpedinto folks from all around the globe. At Neak Pean I identified one of the languages being spoken—Spanish—and was embarrassed by how long it took me to remember how to ask “de dónde eran ustedes?” It tooke me so long to unbury the Spanish files in my brain from under the Thai files, that I didn’t even have a chance to use any Spanish.

Next we struck East Mebon and Pre Rup. Both majestic, both similar, neither taking my fancy. I should mentions that as we were approaching Pre Rup we were flagged down by a tour van carrying two women from Florida we had met the day before. They were delighted to see us and told us to find them on facebook.

We wrapped up the day’s tour by heading to Banteay Samré. Due to lack of signage we overshot it and went some distance before someone pointed us back in the right direction. When we arrived the guard told us it was closed. After a little dialogue he told us we could take a quick look. What struck me was how similar this restored temple was to ruins I have seen in Thailand. The primary difference being that this one was restored. I would have liked to say longer. It had a feel that was different from other places we had been.

At dinner our host, unable to communicate with us, brought a boy over from somewhere. He was a sharp fellow. His command of English was quite good. His comprehension of Thai was also good. Mark declared his French conversational. Spanish was also apparently at his command. He related to us both historical and political knowledge of South East Asia. I was a little sad to see him slip away when our food came.

Written by Micah in: Uncategorized | Tags: ,
Oct
11
2009
0

Day 4 – Angkor

I’m hoping Mark’s photos from the day give the things we saw today a better showing than I can give them with words, so I’ll skim through a very full day.

After breakfast at a small shop where everyone was watching TV, we swung by a pharmacy and got mosquito repellent and a rain poncho. We then started walking in the direction of Angkor Wat.

It was not long before we were accosted by a driver. We hired him for the day for $15. His name was H. He started by swinging us by the ticket booth where we picked up our three day passes for $40 each. He then took us to the Angkor Wat. Huge moat. Huge stones. Acres of intricate stone carving. We tried out a freelance guide. Friendly fellow, but I think Mark and I are not the guided types.

On our way out we were accosted by sellers. We ended up purchasing a guide book ($10) and two 1.5L water bottles ($1 each). Later in the day we saw these items being hawked at smaller temples for half the price. It is hard to turn down children who are trying to sell you 10 postcards for $1.

We ate a good (if overpriced) lunch before continuing on to the South Gate of Ankor Thom. Again, impressive. The wall and moat around this ancient city are about 3 km to the side.

In the heart of the city we first stopped at the Bayon. Wow! Devils’s Den to the 10th power! Winding, Twisting, ancient corridors. Stairs up. Drops down. It was here than an older hippie woman offered us a joint. She said she hadn’t smoked for 6 months, but this just seemed the place.

Leaving the Bayon, we walked past Bapuon (closed for renovation), through Phimeanakas, and along the Elephant Terrace, and the Leper King terrace. Any of which would have been impressive on their own, but were lost on me amidst the wowness of everything else.

From there we exited the East Gate (also impressive in grandeur) and proceded to Thommon and Chao Say Tevoda. Here I was most struck by the very different styles of restoration in two very similar temples.

Next we stopped at what I believe had been a bridge. Fun. Mark’s remote controlled camera was quite useful.

We proceeded on to Ta Keo, a sight that would not be open to tourists in any nation with a lawsuit epidemic. The steps up could be likened more to a steep stone ladder with tall uneven rungs than to steps. Dangerous = Fun. Being high up, it was fun to sit and look across the tops of trees.

Approaching the end of our day we ventured into Ta Prohm. The large wall around it was considerable in itself. The ruins at the center were . . . were . . . Words fail me. The ruins have been preserved in their state of decay. Massive trees grow out of the walls. Covered pathways end in a collapsed heap of rubble. The numerous twisting dead end passages add a perhaps exaggerated impression of the largeness of the place.

We wrapped up the day by swinging by Banteay Kdei. The temple would be impressive elsewhere, but its wonder is perhaps missed amid the other wonders of the area. At this site some young girls (13ish) worked hard to make the temple memorable. They walked along with us trying to sell us who knows how many different things. However, instead of attacking us with sad begging faces, they came at us with playful, even flirtations banter.

Darkness closing in, we retreated to our hotel. In the dark my sweaty forehead picked up a number of gnats. Back at the hotel our driver tried to contract with us for the next day. We were not ready to have our plans cast in stone.

Written by Micah in: Uncategorized | Tags:

Powered by WordPress. Theme: TheBuckmaker. Finanzen, Holz