Riding Down To Tourist Town

By Stephen Ewashkiw | April 23, 2014

13,260 km so far.

We’re in Cambodia, it’s 37C, and we have a 100 km ride to do.

If we want to get to a tropical island tomorrow, we have got to work for it today. The ride is long, but the elevation is fairly flat, and we should have some views of the Gulf Of Thailand along the way.

Still, it’s not easy to leave Kampot or our temporary home at Samon Village.

kampot overwater resort

The lounge at Samon Village, Kampot.

The route also takes us alongside two different national parks, Phnom Bokor and the smaller, seaside Ream.

The Pressure’s On

The forests of Bokor – green, dark, and filled with mysterious creatures – rolled off into the hilly distance as wound our way through them this morning. Next time, we will make a detour into the forest. It looks like a beautiful place to hike and see some of the wild, natural side of Cambodia.

Fishing boats near Bokor.

Fishing boats near Bokor.

The day’s ride was quite painless. No big construction zones, decent road, a big section with no shoulder, but traffic was light post-New Year. I think we were both motivated by the carrot we are riding towards today, as time flew past.

Cool girls on their way home from school, near Sihanoukville.

Cool girls on their way home from school, near Sihanoukville.

With a few short sugary water breaks along the way, and our earphones plugged in to help us push through the second half, we both enjoyed the ride.

The older girl served us drinks at her parents' drink stand, while the little one laughed and played.

The older girl served us drinks at her parents’ drink stand, while the little one laughed and played.

Just outside Sihanoukville a storm pressed its way in from the sea, forming over the hills as the air pressure changed. Lightning lit up the sky. The crack of thunder pierced our earphones with ease.

The storm continued to move inland and we continued along the coast road to town. The sky was clear over the sea, sparkling on the Gulf Of Thailand to our left as we rode.

Pit Stop

Sihanoukville is a tourist destination of the extremely tacky variety. Famous for its beaches, happy pizza joints, and multiple ways to get wasted, backpackers and holiday makers flock here.

Oddly though, the town doesn’t have much going for it. The influx of tourists encourages the seedy underbelly of society to also flock here, and the main beach, Serendipity, is now notoriously raucous, covered in trash, and somewhere you will absolutely be hounded by hawkers. You also have to be careful you aren’t pick-pocketed or robbed.

We, like many others, have come here for the nearby islands. We met a couple at dinner in Phnom Penh who had just come from Ta Kiev island, and couldn’t say enough good things about it.

Jane has researched and found us a simple retreat that sounds a million miles from the beachside guest houses of Sihanoukville.

Dash Of Fate

As luck would have it (we never plan these things) there was a vegan restaurant within a kilometre of our hotel. Arriving at Dao of Life made me feel as though we were walking into the living room of our good friends Rifa and Chris. The staff greeted us like we were best mates and chatted with us the whole time the food was being prepped.

They only opened 6 weeks ago, so they’re still working out the kinks, but already have great reviews online. As we were ordering from the owner, we mentioned our bike trip in passing. A bit later she came out of the kitchen and said:

You’re not the Five Acres couple, are you?

Their chef is a My Five Acres reader. How random is that? Besides having excellent taste in reading materials, she also makes some seriously tasty vegan food.

Hummous! Oh my god freshly made hummous! Yes. Fantastic sweet potato veggie burgers made by a vegetarian! So delicious. And I know my way around a veggie burger. They also make vegan ice cream, which we forgot to get.

It just gives us something to look forward to when we come back from Koh Ta Kiev.

Soundtrack: Gordon Downie, Coke Machine Glow | Gordon Downie, Battle Of The Nudes | All Songs Considered podcast  

Want to see the route map? View it on Ride With GPS.

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