13,143 km so far.
After several long days on highways with a headwind, I just didn’t feel like getting back on the bike this morning. The only thing pushing me forwards was the promise of arriving in coastal Cambodia, where beautiful views, cute cheap bungalows, and delicious food are all waiting.
Another headwind welcomed us today, along with a dizzying array of mini-vans and Toyota Camrys intent on running us off the road.
Part of my desire to get to the more touristy south coast is food-related.
Today, like all other days, after 40 km or so, I was ready for a second breakfast. But, in the poorer, more rural stretches of our rides, there seems to be a dearth of places to eat, especially for vegetarians.
There are ample stalls selling tiny skewers of grilled meat, and we see a few places with rows of big silver pots, offering a collection of soups to put on rice. I suspect a few of these pots might be hiding something meat-free, but we don’t really have the appetite for mystery stews when it’s 40 degrees out.
This section of Cambodia seems to be devoid even of our old standbys, like the stalls selling banana fritters or fruit smoothies. Snacks are also thin on the ground. There are no 7-Elevens here providing cookies and ice cream, and no Snickers bars to tide us over.
So we’ve been surviving our 100 km days sipping on Cokes and cans of fruit-flavoured pop. I say surviving, because riding on an empty stomach makes me feel dreadful. To make matters worse, Stephen doesn’t really seem bothered by the lack of calories. He’s happy to wait until we arrive at our destination before thinking about food.
Probably because of the lack of protein in dinner last night, today was especially bad. By the time we gone three-quarters of our distance, my brain was reeling.
And then, a bright oasis appeared on the horizon. Is it a mirage? No!
It’s a smoothie stall, with real fruit on display, and a big bag of French bread, too.
I pulled off the road and ordered two dragon fruit papaya smoothies and two loaves of bread, which we coated liberally with spoonfuls of peanut butter from our panniers.
Every Person Counts
Kampot, where we were headed today, is the it destination on Cambodia’s south coast these days. It’s a laid-back colonial river town, with a nice mix of tourists and locals.
It also has the best cafe we’ve seen since Europe. Epic Arts Cafe serves real coffee, a blend created for them by the espresso shop next door (which seems to be closed for the holidays).
They have California-style lunch and breakfast dishes: coconut banana pancakes, perfectly grilled panini, breakfast bruschetta, cous cous salads… oh cous cous, how I’ve missed you.
All this eating is also for a good cause. Epic Arts runs programmes designed to promote inclusion and acceptance of people with disabilities.
After a big lunch and a short search, we found Samon Village, a group of no-frills wooden bungalows a few kilometres out of town. Our little almost open-air house on stilts, with private bathroom and mosquito net included, is cleaner and more welcoming than many guesthouses we’ve stayed in.
It even has a coconut shower.
For $12 a night, I’ll forgive having to share our space with lots of tiny tiny ants and one giant black spider.
Soundtrack: Urge Overkill, Saturation | Eric Matthews, It’s Heavy In Here | Microphone Check podcast | Wiretap podcast ♥