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Back on the road – Siem Reap to Si Sophon

(written by Nancy)

Oh, a lovely last night in our swanky hotel but back to reality today. We were up early to have breakfast at the hotel (included with our room) and hit the road, as we knew we had 100k+ to ride to get to the next major town of Si Sophon.

We were a bit apprehensive about the road today, given that it is the main road from Siem Reap over to the Thailand border. But it was actually a very good road – good condition and a nice wide shoulder the whole way. Almost back to Thailand standards! It was a nice change after the pot-holed narrow roads that we have had so far in Cambodia and particularly the road between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Today was spent mostly riding through rice paddies, as far as the eye could see on both sides of the road. It is clearly harvest time, as there were groups of folks out in most of the fields cutting and tying up bundles of rice. Many fields had 15 or more men and women out working in the fields. We were trying to guess if they were hired workers or if the villagers banded together to cut one person’s field and then moved on to the next. We went past several groups who were having their lunch break (or maybe morning tea?), gathered around bowls of food and chattering away. Dave stopped to take several pictures- they all laughed and waved, seemingly happy to be photographed. Even those out working in the field stopped and waved, yelling hello to us.

We also saw several duck ‘farms’, for the want of a better word. There were several places where enclosures had been created using netting that housed hundreds of ducks of various ages. Most of the ones we went by had let the ducks out for a swim in the nearby pools of water – funny to see so many ducks all wandering around and cheeping away. At one point one we watched one lady make some of her own cheeping noises and the all of the ducklings ran back to her. We figured they must have their wings clipped – otherwise they could easily fly away.

A few more weird foods today to see us out of Cambodia – what looked like whole breaded and deep fried small birds of some type (maybe sparrows?) and the not-so-tasty looking fried snake. And we have decided that Cambodia must be the most adept country at car-pooling. We noted in some earlier posts about the number of people we saw crammed into vans hurtling down the road. Today we saw some pretty amazing numbers of people piled into the back of trucks – Dave caught a few with some photos.

We ran into some other bicycle tourists today. Toos and Anita are from Amsterdam and are doing a 6-week tour from Bangkok to Ho Chi Min. We chatted on the side of the road for a bit and discovered that they actually live just on the other side of the canal from the apartment we lived in in Amsterdam – we could have waved to each other from our windows. Very funny!

We had a bit of a headwind today, which made the flat road a bit tough. We pulled over for a comfort stop at about 20k and we both hesitated when starting to get back on the road, neither wanting to take the lead. Dave broke first so he took up the front again – ha, beat him again!! No really, he was very nice and took the lead the whole way today, like any good husband would do when there is a headwind.

We made it into Sisophon about 12:30 or so and found a decent hotel (Pyramid Hotel) – not quite as nice as the place my sister found for us but we can’t complain for $15! The room wasn’t clean yet so we went and had lunch at a restaurant down the road – a bit of an odd experience as they had no menu and a fellow came to take our order as soon as we sat down. We made a few guesses at what they might have and ended up with two decent lunches. We went back and got checked into the hotel – even got help carrying the bags up to our room on the 3rd floor!

Tomorrow we cross the border back into Thailand – looking forward to some good Thai food and the ever-convenient 7-11s. This border crossing has a bit of a reputation as being pretty crazy – hopefully we will pass through with no issues. Border bribes, well, let’s see how that plays out…

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