05/08/2010 Road to Kampot

August 10, 2010

I woke pretty early this morning 06:00, I had a quick breakfast in the Okay restaurant, showered then packed my bags. I was going to meet Sovann for lunch, get a few supplies then head off towards Kampot.

I met Sovann at the Russian Market, a vibrant energetic place with plenty going on. When you’re here get used to haggling, but don’t take it too seriously, remember that in many cases these people are simply trying to survive.

After buying a couple of bags at the russian market, we went for lunch at a cafe called Jacobs Wall (They serve apple pie here).

Jacobs Wall

This is a lovely place to eat and even get a hot cappuccino due to the amazing air con. Did I mention they serve apple pie?

Tuc-Tuc Driver, Tour Guide and all together super guy (give him a call or drop him an email if you are visiting Phnom Penh).

After lunch Sovann assisted me in getting additional supplies for my trip, (things like tools for the bike etc). While we where riding around PP we happened to pass an extremely interesting structure, I had to stop and take a photo. I plan to go back here, maybe spend the day shooting, speak to the people who live here and simply find out a little more about the place.

After all supplies had been found I dropped Sovann back off at his home and said good-by. I set-off to find national road number 3, and start my journey to Kampot, my mission to deliver a message in my care to its recipient at the Honey Bar. It didn’t take long to find national road number 3, although I wouldn’t really call it a road, more a work in progress.

The road started off as a dirt road, then progressed through to rough loose chipping’s (this is pretty hairy when your travelling on two wheels), back to dirt and pot holes again and then progressing to large 40ft drops, created by unfinished bridges. There was of course some safety provision in the form of diversion signs, these where hand drawn arrows pointing in a direction away from the edge of the aforementioned unfinished bridge.

Travelling this road was slow going, as well as the poor condition, I also had the added benefit of the billowing clouds of dust created by a constant flow of heavy construction vehicle’s. I decided I would do the minimal amount of stops possible as I had a fair distance to travel. This however proved to be pretty difficult, as although it was rough going, and although the dust was hurting my lungs and eyes, it was still one of the most breath taking landscapes I had ever seen.

I was trying my hardest not to stop, but would constantly come across something that I either wanted to take a photo of, or just wanted to sit for a while and look at. I came across this building and decided that it would be my last stop, I would take a quick photo then ride all the way to Kampot.

Now the picture it’s self is pretty uninteresting and one I would normally just throw away. Its what happen next that took me completely by surprise. I had literally taken out my camera, took a shot and immediately thought “that’s a bit naff”, and proceeded to pack my camera away. I had zipped up the camera bag when I heard a kind of skidding sound followed by a crunching noise directly in front of me. Two girls riding a scooter had lost grip on the loose gravel and hit the road just a few meters ahead of me. I instantly ran over to where they where. Their bike had taken the majority of the impact but both of them where grazed and cut pretty badly from sliding along the gravel. I managed to get both of them over too my bike were I had a medical kit. By this time local villagers had also arrived over to see what had happened. None of the locals had any medical supplies so I patched both the girls up as best I could, cleaning the blood and grit from their wounds and treating them with an antiseptic cream before putting bandages on them. I gave them the rest of my medical kit and my remaining water before another scooter arrived to take them away. I had done all I could here. I was thanked by the local villagers before jumping back on my bike and continue my journey. I was now well behind time and loosing light quickly.

The light had almost gone now and I still had a long way too go, I couldn’t afford any more stops.
Too late, the light had now completely vanished, I was left riding in the pitch black, over loose gravel, pot holes, with dust, oncoming heavy vehicle’s, bridges which dropped off into rivers and pits, people occasionally simply appearing out of the darkness in the middle of the road, and now a new little twist. It seemed that every single insect in Cambodia had heard about my journey, and thought it appropriate to face slam me attracted by the headlight on my bike. (oh i nearly forgot, I didn’t have a visor either).

On several occasions the bike went from under me, I some how managed to correct it preventing it from going over. I was also forced into the edge of the trees a couple of times by oncoming trucks, but again managed to miraculously coax the bike back to the road. I continued like this for the next 2 hours, tired, sore, without water and with no real idea of where I was going except forward into the darkness. The only thing preventing me from finding some where to pitch my hammock was the though of delivering my message to its recipient and of course an ice cold beer.

Soon though salvation, I had some how made it the rest of the way to Kampot 🙂
After searching for about 30mins I finally found the Cosie Elephant guest house. I checked in, had a quick shower and made my way to the Honey Pot bar to deliver the message in my care. Ok I would deliver it after my first pint, (which went down in under 5 seconds). Sadly the recipient of the message wasn’t there, so I wrote it down and left it for her. I then had some food a couple more pints and retired to my bed. Today was a good day for being alive, I now wondered what tomorrow would bring.