Chanted dharmas lingering in the air as we cycled past temples in every village. City and province homes with their spirit houses erected in their front lawns welcoming ancestors. The gifts of food and burning incense left at the feet of statues of Buddha. The graciousness of the Cambodian people. These are just some of the things that we loved about cycling through Cambodia. It is fascinating place with a complex history and a culture deeply rooted in Buddhism.
Cambodian people were consistently so gracious and generous no matter where we were. They opened their homes when we stopped for water breaks or offered a chair to sit on the side of the road. Cycling has been a great way to see the back roads, villages and smaller towns of Cambodia as well as experience as much of the culture as one can in two weeks. Our last few stops in Cambodia prior to crossing the Cambodia/ Vietnam border were Kampot, Kep, Rabbit Island and Takeo.
The bike ride from Sihanoukville to Kampot was about 110 km on an extremely hot day. Due to Delhi belly, I only cycled about 50 km. Thank goodness for antibiotics and the sag wagon. This also presented a great opportunity to have really interesting discussion with one of the guides about politics in Cambodia. Many here are looking forward to the election in 2018. We both hope it will be peaceful. Chris, on the other hand, rode the whole metric century on an extremely hot day.
Kampot is a small town close to the Gulf of Thailand that is known for the pepper farms.
Kampot is also strategically located (about 25 km) near a gorgeous, little beach town (unlike Sihanoukville) called Kep known for its pepper crab and proximity to Rabbit Island. So after a short ride one day, we took a boat to the island for an afternoon of crab, beer, and hammocks. If you ever find yourself in Cambodia – avoid Sihanoukville and head to Kep and Rabbit island.
After Kampot, Kep and Rabbit Island, we cycled another 80 km to Takeo which is a sleepy border town. It was incredibly quiet – very unusual for most cities that we have visited. The town’s infamous past includes the residence of Ta Mok. Ta Mok, otherwise known as The Butcher, built a large home essentially with a moat around it. He was the Khmer Rouge Commander of the Southwestern Zone. He was not captured until 1999 and died in prison awaiting trial. His palatial estate was turned into a university.
After spending a night in Takeo, we cycled 50 km to the Vietnam border and then another 27 km in Vietnam to Chao Doc. The border was mostly straightforward as we got our visas (30 days for $65) back in Phnom Penh. We only had to pay extra to one official, but at $1 USD per head, we were not too worried about it. While there is much to love about Cambodia, we were both excited to move on to another country. The increased infrastructure in Vietnam was immediately apparent traffic lights, curbs, paved roads, irrigation system, pedestrian walkways and lights.