Day 5: Phnom Penh to Kirirom

Our departure from Phnom Penh was delayed by a parade being held in honor of the funeral of Cambodia’s king Sihanouk. We waited around the hotel for almost an hour before the cordoned off streets were opened to traffic again.

It also meant that traffic going out of the city was horrendous. It reminded me a lot of the traffic in Bombay. Lane markings are completely ignored and it is mostly a free for all. It wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it would be though. Even though the road was full of vehicles, as long as you held your line and didn’t make any sudden movements, there wasn’t any danger of being rear-ended. If a faster moving vehicle wanted to pass you, they’d always pass from the left, and honk to give you fair warning to move over. The order was something like bicycles and scooters to the extreme right, us on our bigger bikes to their left, and cars and vans to our left. We would occasionally encounter a few vehicles coming straight at us in the wrong direction, but they were usually going very slow and avoiding then was not much of a problem. Still, this kind of riding was slow and boring.

After about two hours of it, we finally got out onto the outskirts of the city with more breathing space. I kept riding on the unpaved shoulder, because unbelievably so, I was really starting to crave riding offroad. Maybe we’ll make a dirtbiker out of me yet!


Our first stop for the day was the national forest. This was the first time in our five days of riding that we encountered twisties! Most of our ride had been straight flt roads so far, so I was delighted to encounter pavement, corners and hills. I was completely frustrated here because for some reason our guide slowed down and kept a very sedate pace,slowing way down for the few wooden bridges and gravel patches. Butbutbut twisties! The last 5km of the road was unpaved and fun. I think I managed to go a good pace. This was finally fun! We ended in a resort sort of place with a river surrounded by groups of thatched houses. The place was thronging with groups of teenager. Apparently it was a popular weekend spot for people from Phnom Penh. We rested there for about an hour.





When we started to get ready to leave, I asked Chea if I could go past him on the twisty road and he said yes. W00t! We went back over the unpaved road and he indicated that I should go past. I didn’t need to be told twice! I rolled open the throttle and roared down the road, surprisingly fast for this tiny bike. This was bliss! Lots of lots of glorious corners! I had to slow down a bit for one car, some rocky gravel patches and bumps in the road, and a couple of scooters, but outside of that, I was free to go fast. I think I made it back in a third of the time it took us to go up.


I waited at the bottom for everyone. When they caught up, we went a short distance away onto another red dirtroad which led to our homestay, where we would spend the night with a local family.