Archive for June, 2018

Three bongs on bikes – things left behind, the schedule has gone all Pete Tong.


It used to be a common refrain that I could not go somewhere without leaving things behind. This time was no different but I was not to be the only one.

Around eight we arrived at the bus company and forty minutes later the bus arrived. 20180623_083852Time for the bikes to be put on the bus. It’s a thing in Cambodia. Get out of the city, avoid the traffic and arrive fresh, at lunchtime to visit the planned temple. We had been promised the journey would be three hours and would arrive, at the latest, in Kampong Thom by midday.

The normal Cambodian bus experience of it stopping on a regular basis to let on more


On the right an elephant being attacked by two tigers, I do not know how many of either remain in the province. On the left a memorial to friendship between China and Cambodia. Yet China was the funder and supporter of the Khmer Rouge, who the current government were members of, fought against and opposed China in the UN, yet are now the greatest friends.

people, paying in cash, till they were sitting on tiny stools in the isle, meant we got there an hour later. Still, not the end of the World. We had lunch and checked into our respective hotels.

The plan had been to visit the third temple complex that had gained UNESCO World Heritage status in Cambodia, Sambour Prei Kok. However, I had visited the site in the previous few months, it was a holiday at the end of a term teaching, and I had booked a place with a swimming pool.

So, as my travelling companions went off to the temple complex. I chilled out by the pool, swimming occasionally, so that in four swims I had done 20 lengths of the pool, which I calculated to be 30 metres = 600 metres. It was awful that in the gaps in between 20180623_160049swimming I had to lie in the sun or read my book in the shade. Just what the doctor ordered after a term’s work and with days riding ahead.

The two other bongs arrived back in time to head out for something to eat. During which they said that they had arrived with only 30 minutes until the site closed and had decided not to pay the $10 to go in, had seen things they could and had left before being caught in a rain storm. They had sought shelter 20180623_220538

from the storm in a shack with someone who

had recommended the restaurant we ate in.

We then headed to the the place where they were staying to watch the second half of the Tunisia vs Belgium game in the World Cup and then went on to a night street food stall, in front of the market for a drink. After which we parted.

Things left behind? I realised as we approached Kampong Thom I had left my swimming


Phnom Penh to Kampong Thom.

equipment behind. I had booked a hotel with a pool specifically to be able to swim. Fortunately Kampong Thom Market came to the rescue and I got a pair of swimmers for $2. They were branded Nike, I did not think they were and, they were falling apart after wearing once, I do not think they were.

More importantly one of the bongs behind left important medicine in Phnom Penh. There is no postal service in Cambodia, so how to get it? Fortunately a phone call to the place they were staying meant the place could find it, put it on a bus and get it to us, saving him from having to return to Phnom Penh to retrieve it. Unfortunately, it does not arrive until 11 tomorrow morning so we have to cool our heels in Kampong Thom  till then.

The schedule has gone all Pete Tong? Well obviously spending more time in Kampong Thom than planned has not helped – the aim was to lave at 8 rather than the 11 that now seems likely. At the same time, over the evening meal it was argued by one bong that the schedule for the next day was not realistic and that only one temple could be visited the next day. Rather than the two in the plan. It is something I tell fellow teachers that Generals say no plan survives engagement with the enemy.

Three Bongs on Bikes


The bikes have been hired and the tickets have been bought. Hotels are booked. The Kampong Thom ticketsroad-trip starts here. Or, well when we collect the bikes tomorrow, or maybe when work finishes tomorrow evening or perhaps, even on leaving Phnom Penh on Saturday.

Whenever it starts it does not dim the excitement that once again I’m getting on a bike and heading out into the countryside to see more of Cambodia.

For the first part though we are loading the bikes on a bus to Kampong Thom arriving Saturday lunchtime. We’ll then see the temple at Sambor Prei Kuk, a pre-Ankorian temple complex that recently gained UNESCO World Heritage status.

Route June Juy 2018The next day is temple day. It is a ride to Preah Khan Kampong Svay to see the temple there and, after lunch, it is on to Koh Ker Temple. The theme doesn’t change the next day as it is on to another UNESCO World Heritage site, Preah

Vihear temple, on the border with Thailand.

Then it is the end of temples for a while, moving to Anlong Veng – the last hold out of the Khmer Rouge and the place their leader, Pol Pot died.

Then it is on to Sisophon via another temple at Banteay Chhmar. From Sisophon it is

Five go to the Province

Five go to the province for Khmer New Year. The Bongs on the Bikes are the two left and one right in the picture.

change of mode of transport again as the newly opened western train line runs from Poipet on the Thai border to Pursat, and we hope to join it to ride from Sisophon to Cambodia’s second city, Battambang. A night or two here where we could see, among other delights, a bat cave, Cambodia’s only vineyard, another killing field, a temple, a crocodile farm as well as the delights of the city itself. Whilst there we will undoubtedly catch England’s last group game in the World Cup.

After Battambang it is off to Pursat for Chrak La Eang, a waterfall it is famous for, followed by a night at Kampong Chhnang, merely because I love the sound of its name, before returning to Phnom Penh.

Now you know why we’re excited. So much to do and see.

*Bong is an honorific in Cambodia much like ‘mate’.

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