It’s taken a week to get here, but we’re now very close to our exit point from Thailand into Cambodia. Since it’s Christmas Day, we’ve splashed out on a beachside resort. Chanchon Resort is rather a nice place, and our unit is so close to the sea that there is a real danger of it floating away at high tide. Still only about $25USD though. For cyclists coming this way, it’s about 8km north of Khlong Yai, sign-posted off the main road. Turn off the main road, travel a short way down it, turn right again. Not a big diversion to come this way, see if rooms are available. They have a restaurant here serving beer, food and wine cooler (Anna wasn’t too impressed by the wine cooler, but after the 4th one, it seemed to be OK). The food isn’t cheap, but it’s good.
We’re very close to the border, should just be a short ride tomorrow across to Koh Kong. I’ve been doing some research about the next leg, to Sihanoukville, and I don’t like what I’ve found so far. The boat stopped running when they finished the road, but the road runs through an isolated part of the Cardamon Mountains, with few places to stay. It’s a modern road too, which is not always a good thing.
Over the years I’ve gotten better at reading maps, and interpreting the relationship between roads and geography. One of the things you learn is that the old roads are the best. Old roads were built for horses and carts, not for modern engines. They pay careful attention to the lie of the land. I can look ahead at the terrain, and predict where the road will go. New roads are different. People don’t understand the reason for winding roads any more, they expect to be able to plow straight through. In your white, air-conditioned Land Cruiser, you don’t notice the difference. On the bicycle it’s a different story. A slight gradient to your V8 could mean an hour’s climbing. 35° with 80% humidity feels rather different on the outside of air conditioning.
So I’m a bit concerned about that road leg, which has very few places to stay, and certainly not the plethora of roadside stalls selling all manner of cyclist-sustaining goodness that Thailand has. When we get to Koh Kong I’ll have to investigate the bus situation. Putting bikes on buses can be a hit and miss affair. The good thing about this part of the world is that pretty much any need can be accommodated, provided you have a few dollars to smooth things over. We’ll see what happens when we get to Koh Kong.
Something I should have mentioned in the last dispatch is the impact of the floods. In Bangkok itself, there was no direct impact from the floods, more the evidence of it. There were sandbags a-plenty, mostly just stacked up to one side now. Quite a few places had hastily thrown up brick walls built in fron of them to a height of 500mm or so. A couple of places right beside the river were pumping water out, but by and large, things were pretty much normal. It has been in the countryside that we’ve noticed the serious impact. All touring cyclists who have travelled through Thailand will be very familiar with the 7-11 convenience stores dotted around the country. After a long hot day, these are like a veritable oasis of calm, offering the holy trinity of air conditioning, Snickers bars and chocolate milk. It seems that the floods have hit the 7-11 distribution centres hard, and they are not carrying the full range. Prepare yourself: Almost all 7-11 stores have no ice blocks or ice cream available. That’s right, no Magnum caramel-dipped chocolate and peanut coated, “FDA approved only for people exercising more than five hours per day” ice cream goodness for us. That’s not to say that ice cream is completely unavailable, but be warned: You’ll need to hunt it down.