Monday, November 12, 2007

Into Cambodia

I flew into Bangkok with my bike in a box in the hold. My vague plan is to cycle across Cambodia and Laos and into Vietnam. I've not planned much beyond the first week since I'm sure I'll do a better job of figuring it out as I learn more about the country the bike and me. I've already found out quite a bit. I'm flying solo on this trip while Mary stays at home for a few weeks.

My first job was to get to the Cambodian border. I took the train to avoid the maze of traffic around Bangkok. It was then a simple 7km cycle from the station at Aranyaprathet to the border and a fairly straightforward visa process. Once inside Cambodia the fun began.

The road from Poipet to Siem Reap, my first major destination, was pure hell. Stones and bugs peppered windshields but all I had was teeth and Raybans. Holes, sand, stones, mud and dust made the going very slow. Above all other trials was the dust, which gets everywhere - in your lungs, in your teeth, in the bike, in your gear. I ended each day with my clothes, skin, and bike the same color as the locals. All the color of Cambodian dust.

On the train from Bangkok, approaching the Cambodian border.

My first portrait of the bike. Not quite the same subject appeal as Mary I'll admit, but she does have lovely lines of her own, and 27 speeds.

In my international league of photo-enthusiasm - where the shy Tibetans are the yardstick of reticence - Cambodia makes it's entry straight in at the number one spot with a bullet, beating India and Nepal into joint second place. These kids were absolutely beside themselves at seeing their picture on the camera screen. Although they lived beside the 'highway' the buses don't stop in their village and so I guess they'd perhaps never seen a digital camera. I hope the bike continues to work it's magic like this.

150km of the dusty road from hell.

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