November 2016 Charity Ride

For the second year running Paleriders – Cambodia ran a charity ride for the Jesus School in Phnom Penh. The school was founded in 2002 by Pastor Meng Aun Hour after he visited the Thnot Chrum rubbish dump. He had a vision of creating a school nearby to educate the children of the dump workers so that they may have better opportunities in life. The dump has closed long ago but the school continues to serve the local community. There are currently 213 students enrolled, from Kindergarten to Grade 6. Their education is free, with uniforms, text books and school supplies provided. The Jesus School also provides assistance for the children to enrol at a Government High School after they complete Grade 6. This year we only had 4 participants, Brett, Jim and I riding and John in the support vehicle. Despite the lack of numbers we still managed to raise $6500 USD for the school. This was largely because another rider, Tom Mauloni; paid upfront for the trip but had to pull out due to business commitments. However, he very generously donated the full amount to the cause. Thank you so much mate! I thought I’d put together a blog post about the ride, and I’ve also included commentary and images from Jim Elliot, thanks mate. I’m also cheating a bit and using the Facebook posts I uploaded each day on the ride.

Day 1 – Brett Hardwick arrived in the morning from Australia so we left Phnom Penh around 11 am which wasn’t a bad thing as the traffic had died down to a mildly chaotic level. After arriving in Kampong Cham; I spent the afternoon buying steel and fasteners for a bridge repair project at Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage which was commencing just after the ride finished. The rest of the crew relaxed and took it easy. All good, the weather had been fine so far, there was a little bit of rain expected overnight but the forecasts said it should be fine for most of the ride.

Jim Elliott – “First day on the road was an adrenalin rush; the rules don’t take long to learn. There is only one – ‘Might Is Right’. Stayed at Kampong Cham then followed the Mekong making a ferry crossing late morning, that night was Kratie then onto Mondolkiri Province where we stayed in a jungle camp”.

Enroute to Kampong Cham

 

In Kampong Cham – Sreyda posing as usual

 

Day 2 – we had an easy day riding from Kampong Cham to Kratie and then to the dolphin pool at Kampi. So far so good, the bikes were running well. John Boyd was keeping Sreyda and the boys in the car entertained.

 

John rode shotgun in the support vehicle on this trip

 

Brett and Jim on the ferry across the Mekong

 

Dolphin pool at Kampi

Day 3 and 4 – we had an easy ride from Kratie to Sen Monorom where we met up with the volunteer staff from Elephant Valley Project in the afternoon. After all the admin stuff was done we followed them out to their base camp, about 10 km out of town. With no internet and generator power only from 5:30 pm to 9 pm, it was peaceful, serene and we all had a great night’s sleep. Next morning we walked in the forest with Jemma and Claire, and spent time with two elephants, Milot and Sambo. After lunch we rode to Banlung, about 200 km north, and cooled off in Yeak Laom volcanic lake. That night the rain bucketed down.

Jim Elliot – “After saying g’day to some ageing elephants and lunch we rode onto Banlung in Ratanakiri Province were we got to cool off in a volcanic lake and watch the sun go down”.

Cambodia – Vietnam Solidarity Monument at Snuol, close to the Vietnamese border

 

The sign says it all

 

Milot is losing weight because most of her teeth have worn away

 

Sambo’s bum in the background

 

Sambo has grown quite fat

 

Uncle John doing what he does best

 

Relaxing at the Elephant Valley Project base camp

 

Brett kicking back at EVP

 

Cooling off in Yeak Laom crater lake, Banlung

 

Cooling off in Yeak Laom crater lake, Banlung

 

Always hungry that girl

 

Day 5  – an easy ride from Banlung to Stung Treng and then preparing for the boat trip next day, when we travelled to Voeun Sien village to repair the village water pump which hadn’t worked for about 3 years. I spent the afternoon buying the pump parts and doing some chassis repairs to the support vehicle while the boys relaxed and explored Stung Treng. Jim had a new set of wheel bearings fitted to his bike and checked out the largest wooden house in Cambodia, owned by a government official. 

Jim Elliott – “We left the mountains for Stung Treng where I had new bearings fitted to the front wheel and visited a home built to excess by some Government official. It would have cost more than a hundred schools. Resources not going where they’re needed?”

Start of Day 5 at Banlung

 

New wheel bearings transformed the handling

 

This house is over 1300 square metres in area

Day 6 – an eventful day, an early start from Stung Treng but we soon stopped due to the horrendous noises coming from the diff. Nothing obviously wrong was found so it was put down to the extra load and a bit of wear in the limited slip clutches so we carried onto O Svay village. From there we travelled 15 km down river in boats to Voeun Sien, a village on a Mekong River island where we repaired their village water pump which had been out if action for 3 years. It was soon bringing up clean, fresh water which will make a big difference as they’ve had to haul water up from the river since the pump failed. After lunch we visited their school to hand out books, pencils, toothpaste and brushes kindly donated by John Boyd and Sokountheara Hon. Unfortunately John was nipped by a dog so he returned to Stung Treng for a rabies shot while the rest of us travelled by boat to Don Khon in Laos. All enjoyed staying at Senghaleune Resort and we caught up with John next day back in Stung Treng.

Jim Elliott – “Leaving the bikes chained up in Stung Treng we travelled to O Svay Village were we left the van and travelled 15 km down river by boat to Voeun Sien Village to fix a water pump & visit the school. At the village school John was snacked on by a dog after standing on it. He went off and had some vacs, all OK. Giving books, pencils and toothbrushes to the kids”.

All the kids were waiting for us to arrive

 

They gave us a hand to cart everything up to the village

 

It only took an hour and $20 worth of parts to fix the pump

 

The water was clean and fresh

 

John had brought stuff to give to the kids

 

John had brought stuff to give to the kids

 

The kids ended up with books, pencils and toothbrushes

 

Heading up to Don Khon in Laos

 

Our transport from Ban Hangkhone to Sengaleune Guesthouse

 

Day 7 – another eventful day, starting out with a ride over to Don Det in Laos on a couple of really crap scooters with no brakes, stopped at Ban Hangkhone primary school to give books and stuff to about 40 kids, then a tuk tuk on the Cambodian side to Sopheakmith Waterfall, boat ride back to O Svay and then back to Stung Treng to catch up with “Mad Dog” John Boyd. He was OK, he’d started on the course of rabies vaccine and was in good spirits.

Jim Elliott – “Further up river to Laos and a stay on Don Khon Island, no visa required. Hired some small bikes without brakes, they didn’t even have the calipers on the front but they got us across the island. While in Laos we stopped at Ban Hangkhone School and gave away the last of the books and pencils 26 books 43 pupils! Life can be tough sometimes but we didn’t see any tears only big smiles! Out of Laos and a visit to falls on the Cambodian side of the border”

French railway bridge, Don Khon

 

Brett wasn’t keen on riding the bikes with no brakes

 

Crap bikes – crap roads

 

Guesthouses on Don Det

 

Welcome

 

 

Giving away the last of the school supplies at Ban Hangkhone, Laos

 

Giving away the last of the school supplies at Ban Hangkhone, Laos

 

Happy kids at Ban Hangkhone, Laos

 

Travelling on the Mekong

 

Sopheakmith Waterfall

 

Day 8 – a nice 320 km ride from Stung Treng to Siem Reap, with a stopover at Koh Ker Temple for lunch.

Jim Elliott – “320 km ride to Siem Reap, the bike handling much better with the new wheel bearings. Stopped for lunch at Koh Ker, one of the more mysterious temples in Preah Vihear Province. Fantastic views from the top”.

 

Coffee time

 

At Koh Ker Temple

 

It’s a long way down

 

It’s a long way down

 

At Koh Ker Temple

 

At Koh Ker Temple

 

Back on Road 6, not far from Siem Reap

 

Day 9 – I hit the road at 4:30 am to do the 400 km round trip home to swap my Transalp for the XR650. This was because in a couple of days we were planning to go across the Cardamom Mountains and it may have still been a bit muddy. Meanwhile Brett Hardwick and Jim Elliott visited Angkor Wat and a few other temples and John Boyd went to the doctor for another rabies shot. We met up that night for dinner in Pub Street and wandered around the Night Markets.

Angkor Wat

 

Ta Prohm

 

Brett at Ta Prohm

 

Angkor Thom

 

Preparing the XR for the second half of the ride

 

New tyres all round

 

New Riverside Hotel, Siem Reap. Highly recommended.

 

Dinner in Pub Street, Siem Reap

 

Day 10 – a 180 km ride from Siem Reap to Battambang, an awesome lunch at The Kitchen then a ride on the bamboo train. Sadly it will probably be gone by next year’s ride, the government are reopening the line from Phnom Penh to Poipet to connect with the Thai rail system. The plan was to split up on day 11; Brett, Jim, Vien and I were to ride across the Cardamom Mountains while Sreyda, John and Coit went in the car by the main highway. We were to meet them in Koh Kong on day 12.

Jim Elliott – “Bamboo Railway, great fun thundering along about 30 centimetres off the ground on petrol driven rail cars, 2 axles, frame, bamboo mat to sit on; nothing bolted together the thing comes apart in seconds when a car comes the other way one dismantles to allow the other to pass”.

Battambang

 

Battambang

 

Bamboo Train, Battambang

 

Bamboo Train, Battambang

 

Bamboo Train, Battambang

 

The line hasn’t been repaired in years

 

Jim Elliott – “Who needs a gym when you work on the railway! This girl would be a contender in any body building competition”

 

Day 11 – things didn’t go to plan, we were ready to leave the hotel in Battambang when Jim’s bike wouldn’t start. We couldn’t get it going so ended up calling a mechanic. He worked on it unsuccessfully for a couple of hours so we ended up leaving it there to be returned to Phnom Penh by taxi. By then it was too late to go to O Saom so we travelled down Road 5 to Oudong, and the bike shop sent a new bike there for Jim.

Jim’s new bike was a red one – whose is the reddest?

 

Dinner in Oudong. There’s nothing much to say about Oudong really. I’d much rather have been in O Saom

 

Day 12 – Road 51 from Oudong to Road 4 near Kampong Speu was bloody awful, if I knew it was that bad I’d never have taken the car that way. I believe it’s not that old but overloaded trucks have destroyed it, there are potholes a metre deep in places. It was a relief to get onto Road 4, even with all the semi-trailers and idiot drivers. Soon after we stopped for a late breakfast in Kampong Speu and the rest of the ride to Koh Kong was fairly uneventful. 

Breakfast in Kampong Speu after the ordeal of Road 51

 

Rest stop enroute to Koh Kong

 

Enroute to Koh Kong

 

Enroute to Koh Kong

 

Day 13 was a free day in Koh Kong. Jim arranged a boat trip to Koh Kong Island but the rest of us were happy to have a late breakfast and relax for the day. Brett and I went for a ride over to the Thai border and caught up with Nick Berry, who was laid up with a cut foot from a grinding accident. John rented a scooter and went exploring in the border market.

Jim Elliot – “Koh Kong Province; another lay day. Did an island excursion snorkeling & kayaking, BBQ barracuda and pineapple for lunch, got a bit rough on the return trip. Only a small boat and a big swell in the Gulf Of Thailand”.

Brett and I at Koh Kong

 

At the Thai border

 

Sreyda was happy – she found crabs

 

At Cafe Laurent, Koh Kong

 

Koh Kong sunset

 

Farewell Uncle John

 

Day 14 – John had mixed up the dates for the ride and had booked his return flight too early so he left us early in the morning to return to Phnom Penh. We had a 300 km ride on good roads from Koh Kong to Kep, the wind gusts around Kampot blew the bikes all over the road but we made good time and were there for lunch. I was looking forward to resting up next day as I’d had a stomach bug since we left Siem Reap and felt pretty bad.

Enroute to Kep – waiting for Jim

 

Here’s Jim

 

There’s some big rivers on the Koh Kong road

 

Day 15 – a free day in Kep, I made the most of it and rested up. Jim went exploring the old French villas and ended up tasting beers at an art gallery.

Jim Elliott – “Kep was one of my favourite places, it has a rustic feel to it. Jungled mountains, a quiet beach, back in the day luxurious villas dotted the hillside, a few still remain, now ruined vestiges of a bygone era. Oceanfront Crab Market, shacks serving excellent seafood, pleasant little cafes, it’s a foodie’s fantasy. French villas constructed between 1930 and 1960 were abandoned during the war, taken over by the elite of the Khmer Rouge before fleeing in defeat they destroyed and burned most of this fine architecture from the French Colonial period”.

Laidback Kep

 

Laidback Kep

 

Crab Market

 

French villa

 

Ruined villa – the jungle is slowly taking over

 

Dinner at the Crab Market

 

Day 16 of November 2016 Charity Ride. Our last day, we had a fairly relaxed ride from Kep to Phnom Penh and returned the rental bikes. Later we met Meng Aun Hour and Polin Paul Tho at the Jesus School so that Brett and Jim could have a look and afterwards we visited a young man, Veasna, who Sreyda and I sponsored at the Jesus School a few years ago. He lives in the slum area behind the school where 32 houses burnt down in July, his included. A few  NGOs have now built new homes for them. That night we had dinner at Meng’s home and presented him with the money raised on this year’s ride. This will be used for school expenses such as teacher’s salaries, uniforms for the kids, books, stationery etc. Money was received from the following people:
Tom Mauloni ~ $3000 USD
Jimmy Mack ~ $800 USD
John Boyd ~ $800 USD
Brett Hardwick ~ $800 USD
Sreyda Meas & I ~ $800 USD
Tivhor Balonzo Cantor ~ $150 USD
Ross Whitewood ~ $75 USD ($100 AUD)
Lola Holcombe ~ $75 USD ($100 AUD)
TOTAL FOR 2016 ~ $6500 USD.

Thanks everyone for your support.

Jim Elliott – “Cambodia was magical, Paleriders Charity Ride a fulfilling experience, awesome food, some manic riding, travelled through 19 of the 25 provinces covering around 2500 km and raising money for the Jesus school in Phnom Penh as well as assisting local communities along the way, fixed a village pump, visited schools ,gave away books, pencils, toothbrushes and showed some under privileged kids that someone cares”.

Jim doing a few laps at Au Paradis Bleu, Kep

 

Jim Elliott – Owen, Brett and me outside the Jesus school. Behind the school is the slum where a lot of these kids come from. 

 

Visiting Veasna at his new home behind the Jesus School

 

Homes rebuilt after a fire went through in July

 

Dinner at Meng and Rady’s home

 

Dinner at Meng and Rady’s home

 

Presenting the donations to Meng

 

Meng presented myself and the team with an appreciation award for our efforts

 

The appreciation award

 

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Cape to Kalahari Ride – July 2016

I recently did a 16 day Cape to Kalahari ride with RideDownSouth Motorcycle Tours, based in Capetown. It was actually the first time I’ve been on a ride organised by someone else, having run them for years for a group of mates in Australia and more recently as a sideline business in Cambodia. Africa wasn’t on my bucket list either, I only went because a mate, John Boyd, asked me to go and I couldn’t come up with a good enough excuse not to. I had the time, the money – and as it was their first big trip the blokes were running it for cost price so it was an absolute bargain.

I have to say my expectations of Africa were quite low, I envisioned post-Apartheid South Africa as a dangerous, unfriendly basket case. How wrong I was!

Arriving in Capetown after an all-night flight via Qatar, I was met by Jonathon, brother of one of RideDownSouth’s owners. We picked up Darryl, an old school mate, from the domestic terminal, he’d spent the night in Johannesburg after flying non-stop from Sydney the previous day. Darryl was going to be travelling in the support vehicle. The weather was awful, cold and raining, which didn’t look good for the ride but it was forecast to clear next day.

After checking into our hotel, The Adderley, Darryl and I met up with John and Geoff who were also coming on the ride and staying at the same hotel. John has previously joined me on rides in Cambodia, and Geoff is a work mate from Laos. We spent the afternoon down on the waterfront, stocking up on camp gear for the trip. The favourable exchange rate made some items very cheap, Geoff ended up buying a new helmet and riding jacket for a lot less than Australian prices.

That night we met Andrew and Grant from RideDownSouth for dinner, and also Graeme, another rider. Next day the weather was forecast to improve so we planned to meet at Andrew’s house and go for a ride around Capetown to familiarize ourselves with the bikes. John and I, being a bit vertically challenged, were allocated Suzuki V-Strom 650s, while Geoff and Graeme had Africa Twin 750s. Grant was riding a Triumph Tiger 800 and Darryl rode pillion with Andrew.

John and I in Capetown

John and I in Capetown

It was a glorious day, not a cloud in the sky and a crispness in the air without being uncomfortably cold. Capetown is a beautiful city, at least the parts of it that we saw. The roads are magnificent, especially Chapman’s Peak Drive where the road is carved out of the escarpment, which overhangs it in some sections. We stopped for photos where the road overlooks Hout Bay before continuing on back to Capetown.

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Out and about around Capetown

Hout Bay

Hout Bay

Simons Town harbour and naval base

Simons Town harbour and naval base

Atlantic Ocean backdrop

Atlantic Ocean backdrop

That night we met Grant and Graeme for dinner, whilst Andrew was busy packing up the car and trailer. I was quite surprised to find out that the support vehicle was a small Renault car, I’d expected something more substantial, but as it turned out Rene did a mighty job pulling the trailer, sometimes with two bikes on it, plus all the camping gear, luggage and people.

Next morning we met again at Andrew’s house, to complete the final packing of the bikes and car, and for a final briefing on the ride.

Rene loaded up at the start of the trip

Rene loaded up at the start of the trip

Ready for the adventure to begin

Ready for the adventure to begin

Soon we were on the road, following the coastline for most of the morning before turning inland towards our destination, Nieuwoudville. On the way we negotiated several mountain passes, the spectacular Van Ryhns Pass after sunset, with buffeting winds at the summit which blew me onto the wrong side of the road.

Table Mountain in the background

Table Mountain in the background

Stopped at a lookout on Van Ryhns Pass

Stopped at a lookout on Van Ryhns Pass

Sunset from Van Ryhns Pass

Sunset from Van Ryhns Pass

After finding the gravel road in we reached Delande Guesthouse, a very homely farmstay, with a blazing fire and a delicious dinner prepared for us. On the way in Andrew received a call from Nick in the support vehicle, who was having problems coming up Van Ryhns Pass. Word got around that it was a clutch problem, which seemed feasible given the diminutive size of the car and the load it was carrying. An hour or so later, the car arrived and it turned out that a plastic component which hadn’t been installed securely had dropped onto the exhaust, causing a fire. Nick and Darryl had put out the fire and everything was ok.

John and Geoff checking out the fireplace

John and Geoff checking out the fireplace at Delande Guesthouse

Next day we detoured to check out a quiver tree forest, which looked like aloe vera plants stuck on top of dead tree trunks. Back in Nieuwoudville, Protea Motors service station had an impressive collection of motorbikes, around 400 in total and not all on display.

Quiver tree forest

Quiver tree forest

Canyon near Nieuwoudtville

Canyon near Nieuwoudtville

Awesome collection of bikes at Protea Motors

Awesome collection of bikes at Protea Motors

The day was getting on, and we had over 400 km to cover before crossing the border into Namibia so we backtracked down Van Ryhns Pass before heading northward on Road 7. The crosswinds were quite strong, and constant, which necessitated riding with a slight lean into the wind in order to maintain a straight line. The country was quite dry and barren, and looked similar to parts of Australia. The speed limit on the open road was 120 km/h so we were able to make good time.

I was riding behind Geoff and could smell that his bike was burning a bit of oil, but early in the afternoon I noticed visible smoke from the exhaust. Geoff and I had taken up the option of fitting Sena bluetooth headsets to our helmets so I was able to call him and suggest that we pulled over as soon as possible. We found that there was no oil on the dipstick, so the spare bike was taken off the trailer and Geoff’s bike put back on.

It was after dark when we arrived at the border crossing at Vioolsdrif. Departing South Africa was easy, their immigration and customs systems efficient and the staff were friendly. I felt a bit sad that we’d only spent 4 days there, hopefully I can return for another visit. Namibian Immigration and Customs weren’t as efficient as South Africa’s, and there seemed to be a problem with the registration number of Graeme’s bike, as it was coming up in their system as a car. After an hour or so of phone calls they seemed to resolve the issue and we were underway again, following the Orange River to Felixe Unite campground where we set up camp in an outdoor kitchen/eating area instead of pitching tents, as it was well after dark when we arrived.

Orange River

Orange River

Orange River

Orange River

Next morning, we continued alongside the Orange River, where there was a fertile strip about 1 km wide and then stark, barren looking hills which seemed to be crumbling into sandhills at their base. Apparently this strip of fertile ground produces the largest crop of table grapes in the world, which fetch a good price in Europe as they reach market earlier than other countries. Before long we turned off onto a gravel road and headed away from the river, into dry and virtually treeless country. We wouldn’t see much more bitumen until we reached Windhoek four days later.

Start of the gravel roads in Namibia

Start of the gravel roads in Namibia

Near Fish River Canyon

Near Fish River Canyon

Near Fish River Canyon

Near Fish River Canyon

Around lunch time we arrived at Canyon Roadhouse, where we would spend the night. They had a splendid collection of old vehicles and motoring memorabilia, inside and outside the main building. We ate dinner and breakfast beside a grey Fergie tractor and a red Morris Minor, with a Mercedes ambulance on the other side of the table. The vehicles outside were in good condition, due to the absence of moisture in the air.

At Canyon Roadhouse

Canyon Roadhouse

At Canyon Roadhouse

Canyon Roadhouse

Canyon Roadhouse

Canyon Roadhouse

After lunch we rode to Fish River Canyon which is the largest in Africa and up to 550 metres deep. Nick had brought a drone with him, which he set up and captured some awesome images of us and the bikes on the canyon rim. He said the wind was too strong to fly it over the canyon itself.

Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon

Fish River Canyon

Riding away from the canyon

Riding away from the canyon

We left Canyon Roadhouse fairly early, bound for Betesda Lodge near Sesreim. It was a fairly uneventful day, mostly riding on recently graded gravel roads. In the late afternoon I came to a sharp left hand bend, which caught me a bit by surprise, and found Andrew and Geoff pulled up 200 metres further on. I switched off the engine and we waited for the others to catch up. In a while Graeme and Grant arrived, but not John. He had been fairly close behind me for most of the day so we all wondered what had happened. Andrew and I decided to ride back and look for him and as soon as we reached the sharp bend I saw John crawling up the embankment at the side of the road. He’d overshot the corner, becoming airborne before landing in a cluster of large rocks. It appeared that his ankle was broken, so we carefully removed his boots and helmet and made him as comfortable as we could on the roadside.

Johnny's corner claims a victim

Johnny’s corner claims a victim

John's foot

John’s foot

After discussing the options for evacuation, and realizing there was no phone coverage, it was decided to rearrange the luggage in the car to make room for John, and put his bike on the trailer. Betesda Lodge was another 100 km further so we continued on at a more subdued pace, arriving there around 8:00 pm. Just before, an oryx had galloped out of the darkness right in front of me and another one had propped and extended his horns at Andrew as he passed. Eventually a room was made available and we helped John hop from the car and onto the bed. An hour later the ambulance arrived and soon he was on his way to hospital. We assumed he’d be taken to Windhoek but as it turned out he went to a small regional hospital in Rehoboth.

Next day started out as a rest day but around 11 am we decided to ride 40 km to Sesreim to see the dunes of the Namibian Desert, which stretched 200 km westwards to the Atlantic Ocean. At Sesreim we discovered that motorbikes were not permitted on the 60 km road to Sossusvlei, where the dunes start, and all the shuttle buses had departed already. Rene the Renault was emptied out and Darryl, Graeme, Geoff and myself hit the road with Darryl driving. At Sossusvlei we negotiated a price with a large African lady for a 4 wheel drive vehicle and driver to take us to the sand dunes. Geoff and Graeme climbed to the top of the biggest dune where we were dropped off, Darryl and I resisted the urge.

Heading into the dunes

Heading into the dunes

Heading into the dunes

Heading into the dunes

Geoff and Graeme climbing the dune

Geoff and Graeme climbing a dune

As there were some steep mountain passes between Sesreim and Windhoek, Andrew and Grant decided that Grant would take Rene to Windhoek that afternoon and exchange it for a four wheel drive pickup. Next morning Grant hadn’t returned, so Andrew, Graeme, Geoff and myself left on the bikes, leaving Nick and Darryl to continue later when the vehicle arrived. It was a fairly uneventful day on the bikes, we travelled at a relaxed pace and arrived at Eden Chalets, our accommodation in Windhoek, mid-afternoon. We’d stopped for a rest along the way in a dry creek and were surprised to find an American cyclist digging in the sand for water. I offered him some water but he declined, saying that he would ride another 25 km to the next creek and get some there. He’d ridden from Tanzania and was bound for Capetown, which made our efforts seem a bit weak and puny.

Tropic of Capricorn, Namibia

Tropic of Capricorn, Namibia

Enroute to Windhoek

Enroute to Windhoek

Enroute to Windhoek

Enroute to Windhoek

Namibian wilderness

Namibian wilderness

Arriving in Windhoek was the end of the first leg and meant a change of crew, Grant and Nick were returning to Capetown and we were joined by Drew, who took over the Triumph, and Kirsty drove Rene. John had been released from Rehoboth Hospital so Drew picked him up that night. Although the hospital had advised there was nothing much wrong with him, and that he could could rejoin the tour, by the time he arrived in Windhoek he was feeling quite ill and decided he would stay there and seek medical advice. As it turned out, a wise decision.

Drew preparing Rene for Leg 2

Drew preparing Rene for Leg 2

After booking John into a B&B, we departed Windhoek bound for Botswana. After a few hours we reached the border crossing at Buitepos and passed through smoothly. Some time before we’d descended from a high plateau into sandy country covered in low scrub. Most of the country we rode through in Botswana looked similar, the only fertile land appeared to be along the Okavango River further north.

Just on dark we reached the turnoff into Dqae Qare San Lodge, not looking forward to the 7 km of loose sand Andrew had warned us about. With that in mind we reduced tyre pressure on our bikes and started off while Andrew waited for the car to catch up. As it turned out, much of the road had been gravelled, so the sand wasn’t a problem. Graeme had a couple of wrestling matches with gravity and came off second best and Rene made it all the way in but became bogged 50 metres from the guesthouse.

Andrew and Drew at Buitepos border crossing

Andrew and Drew at Buitepos border crossing

Buitepos border crossing

Buitepos border crossing

Next day we went out on the reserve with Khao, our San guide, who showed us how to track animals, recognise them by their droppings and how to light a fire. Dqae Qare was a great place to stay, the accommodation was clean and comfortable and the meals were fantastic, prepared and served by San women. Outside the bar/restaurant was a floodlit waterhole where game came in to drink at all hours.

Khao, our guide with his cat skin fire stick carrier

Khao, our guide with his cat skin fire stick carrier

On a game drive at Dqae Qare San Lodge

On a game drive at Dqae Qare San Lodge

Lovely San women who cooked and served our meals

Lovely San women who cooked and served our meals

After leaving Dqae Qare, we had to pump up the tyres before setting off for Shakawe, on the Okavango River. The road was badly potholed and was like an obstacle course, but I managed to miss every one of them. However, when riding into a village to find some lunch, I rode over a concrete driveway realising too late that the soil was eroded away behind it, with the result the sump guard bottomed out. Straight away I could smell oil burning so stopped to have a look. One of the sump guard mounts had punched a hole through the sump, causing the oil to run out onto the exhaust. What a bugger! We had to drain the oil and put the bike on the trailer as it was only another 100 km to our destination, Drotsky’s Cabins. That 100 kms felt like the longest in history as I rode on the back of Drew’s bike. How anyone can enjoy riding pillion is beyond me.

Pumping the tyres up after the sand

Drew pumping the tyres up after the sand

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Hole punched in the sump

Drotsky’s campground was right on the bank of the Okavango River, and we could hear hippos roaring and crashing through the reedbeds after dark. That night we were ferried up to the main resort by boat to enjoy a sumptious buffet dinner and for the Facebook addicts to connect to their WiFi. I have to say the dinner was a lot better than the WiFi, which seemed to be the case wherever we stayed in Botswana and Namibia. It was so slow even emails wouldn’t download, even after an hour.

Three amigos

Three amigos

Okavango sunset

Okavango sunset

Next morning, Graeme, Geoff, Darryl, Drew and I went on a fishing trip upriver. Within 50 metres of the camp reception office we saw a crocodile sunning on the bank. Geoff got some close-up video footage with his selfie stick before it disappeared into the river. Further upstream a large hippo emerged from the water after we noticed a big air bubble come to the surface. Darryl, Geoff and Drew were fishing and soon Drew had a large catfish in the landing net, after some photos it was released into the water. Drew was keen to catch a tigerfish but seemed to be out of luck, however just before we reached the landing back at at the campground he caught a small one. It might have been small but it had very big teeth, like a piranha. It was released after taking a few photos. Meanwhile, back at the camp, Andrew had successfully repaired the hole in the sump on my V-Strom and Kirsty cooked some awesome beer bread for lunch.

On the Okavango

On the Okavango

Crocodile near campground

Crocodile near campground

Nice sized catfish

Nice sized catfish

Tigerfish

Drew’s tigerfish

Kirsty making beer bread

Kirsty making beer bread

Campsite on the Okavango

Campsite on the Okavango

Outdoor workshop beside the Okavango

Outdoor workshop 

Next morning we rode through Shakawe and onto the border crossing at Mohembo. After crossing into Namibia we rode through Mahango Game Reserve, where it seemed we stopped every hundred metres to see wildlife of one sort or another.

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Mahango Game Reserve – we saw everything but the elephants

Elephant skulls at Bwabwata National Park

Elephant skulls at Bwabwata National Park

Early that afternoon we arrived at Kkwazi Lodge, on the Okavango River near Rundu. I really liked this place, the accommodation was in thatched roof bungalows which were cool, comfortable and well appointed. The Wifi was shite though. After a late lunch we went on a river cruise and crossed over to the Angolan side for photos. Although we saw crocodiles, the local people were bathing in the river. They were always in groups so I guess someone was always on the lookout. The boat was an interesting contraption, two fibreglass canoes cobbled together into a catamaran with an ancient Chrysler outboard on the back. It did the job, getting us there and back without any issues. The boatman positioned it perfectly for sunset views over Angola,with the ubiquitous thorn trees in the background.

That night the RideDownSouth team put on an awesome BBQ, under the stars beside the river. I have to commend their efforts on the trip, they consistently went over and beyond my expectations.

Nkwazi Lodge bungalow

Nkwazi Lodge bungalow

Locals bathing in the river

Locals bathing in the river

Stepping ashore in Angola

Stepping ashore in Angola

Quick visit to Angola

Quick visit to Angola

Sunset over Angola

Sunset over Angola

Sunset over Angola

Sunset over Angola

I wouldn’t have minded spending another day or two at Nkwazi Lodge, maybe I’ll get back there again. We had a schedule to meet so fairly early next day we were riding southwest on Route B8, bound for Etosha National Park. At Grootfontein, we detoured to see the Hoba Meteorite, the largest single meteorite ever found. We continued down the B8 and B1 to Otjiwarongo, then northwest on B1 to Eldorado Guesthouse. It ended up a long day, around 700 km but we still arrived in daylight. The accommodation at Eldorado was great, and the food was fantastic. I’ve not eaten much meat for years but the kudu I ate at Eldorado gave me the tase for red meat again.

Hoba Meteorite

Hoba Meteorite

Bungalow at Eldorado

Bungalow at Eldorado

Dining room at Eldorado

Dining room at Eldorado

Andrew had booked a full day game drive in Etosha National Park so it was an early start next morning. Our guide, Willem, gave us some blankets to keep warm in the back of the open truck we were travelling in and we definitely needed them. It soon warmed up as the sun rose. At the entry to Etosha I saw a woman in tribal dress selling souvenirs so I bought some and had a photo taken with her. Her hair was formed into dreadlocks with red mud and she had a baby slung from her back. Etosha, and most of Namibia, was experiencing a drought so the waterholes were kept topped up from bores. Consequently, it was just a matter of driving from one waterhole to the next to see every type of game animal. About the only one we didn’t see was a rhino but Willem informed us that poachers had shot one in the park that day.

Buying souvenirs at Etosha

Buying souvenirs at Etosha

Lioness in good condition

Well fed lioness 

Pair of mating lions

Pair of mating lions

Typical waterhole scene

Typical waterhole scene

Typical waterhole scene

Typical waterhole scene

Wandering giraffe

Wandering giraffe

With our guide, Willem

With our guide, Willem

Cheetah at Eldorado

Cheetah at Eldorado

Sadly the trip was quickly drawing to an end. I felt like I was just getting into the swing of things, and looked forward to riding to new places and experiences every day. It was a relatively short ride back down Routes C38 and B1 next day, with about 50 km of gravel into Camp Elephant at the end.

Geoff at the entrance to Erindi Game Reserve

Geoff at the entrance to Erindi Game Reserve

After arrival at Elephant Camp, we booked onto a game drive. We only had 30 minutes before it departed so everyone pitched in to make a fire, chop up the veges and prepare dinner in the camp oven. The first hour of the game drive was fairly uneventful, we saw a giraffe, crocodile and various antelope. Rudi, the driver, heard on the radio that lions had been sighted not far away behind a mountain so he headed off in that direction. After a bit of scrub bashing, he managed to get the truck right into the middle of the pride. There were 8 or 9 lions all around us, they appeared to be lying down and resting until we showed up. The lions wandered off towards the road so Rudi followed along behind, allowing us to get some awesome close-up photos. What started out as fairly boring had turned into one of the highlights of the trip. After we’d left the lions behind, and stopped to stretch our legs, it was discovered that a front tyre had been staked. Rudi thought it might only be slow leak and we’d make it back to camp but soon after driving off towards another waterhole it went flat. The spare tyre carrier was broken so we couldn’t lower the spare and Rudi had to call for another vehicle to come and pick us up. It arrived an hour later and we carried on to the other waterhole, seeing the back end of a black rhino as we approached. We arrived back at camp much later than expected, to find the fire had gone out but the chicken casserole was cooked to perfection.

Getting friendly with lions

Getting up-close and friendly with lions

Getting friendly with lions

Getting up-close and friendly with lions

Getting up-close and friendly with lions

Getting up-close and friendly with lions

Lazy crocodile

Lazy crocodile

Hippos and croc at Camp Elephant waterhole

Hippos and croc at Camp Elephant waterhole

Hippo at Camp Elephant waterhole

Hippo at Camp Elephant waterhole

Crocodile at Camp Elephant waterhole

Crocodile at Camp Elephant waterhole

Giraffe at Camp Elephant

Giraffe at Camp Elephant

The last day of the trip was an easy ride back to Windhoek, where we stayed at Eden Chalets again. That night we picked John up from his hotel and took him out for dinner. It turned out his shoulder was broken and he’d had skin grafts on top of his foot. He’d made the right decision not coming on the tour. We had dinner at Joe’s Beerhouse, which was an excellent choice. My selection was the Namib Bush Fire: Springbok loin, kudu and oryx fillets, served with a red wine sauce, straw potatoes and fresh vegetables. It was awesome!

End of the trip

End of the trip

At Joe's Beerhouse

At Joe’s Beerhouse

Dinner at Joe's Beerhouse

Farewell dinner at Joe’s Beerhouse

Drew and John catching up at Joe's Beerhouse

Drew and John catching up at Joe’s Beerhouse

At 4:15 am Drew drove Kirsty and I to the airport to fly our separate ways. Thank you so much Andrew, Drew, Grant, Nick and Kirsty for your hospitality, your efforts and energy which made our trip so memorable and for showing us your part of the world with such enthusiasm. I truly feel privileged to have shared this with you.

To anyone who reads this, if Africa isn’t on your bucket list put it on now! And there’s nobody better to experience it with than the RideDownSouth team.

Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

www.paleriders.com.au

Tel:  +855 8876 12857

Email: owen@paleriders.com.au

Address: National Road 6, Samrong Village, Baray District, Kampong Thom Province, Kingdom of Cambodia.

Copyright © Paleriders – Cambodia. All rights reserved.

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Categories: Motorcycle Tours, Paleriders Blog, Photography Tours, Responsible Tourism | Comments Off on Cape to Kalahari Ride – July 2016
 
 

Paleriders Charity Tour – November 18th to December 3rd 2016

 

 

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Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

www.paleriders.com.au

Tel:  +855 8876 12857

Email: owen@paleriders.com.au

Address: National Road 6, Samrong Village, Baray District, Kampong Thom Province, Kingdom of Cambodia.

Copyright © Paleriders – Cambodia. All rights reserved.

Website created by Owen Holcombe

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Categories: Motorcycle Tours, Paleriders Blog, Photography Tours, Responsible Tourism, Volunteer Projects | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Paleriders Charity Tour – November 18th to December 3rd 2016
 
 

Paleriders tour – December 29th 2014 to January 12th 2015

In January 2014 I was contacted by Bill McCallum, whom I’d previously worked with at Phu Kham Copper Mine in Laos. He was interested in doing a tour with a group of friends at the end of the year so over the next 6 months we developed an itinerary that suited the group. The tour ended up being for 15 days, with a group of 11 people riding 3 different models of motorbike – Honda XR250 for taller riders, Honda CRF150 for shorter ones and Daelim 100 cc scooters which could be carried on a trailer when not required. I looked around at what rental bikes were available in Phnom Penh and found the best quality bikes were at Dara Moto. I booked 6 bikes, a trailer and also a mechanic, Tin Tin, who proved his worth many times during the tour.

My team were my wife Sreyda, her cousin Sakhorn who was the driver and his girlfriend Sak Kom assisted him, Tin Tin the mechanic and Sreyda’s nephew Vien assisted with mechanical work, carrying bags and loading the bus.

Sreyda and I met the group at Romdeng Restaurant, the night before the tour was to start. I also took Pastor Meng Aun Hour, a good friend from when I first came to Cambodia, to meet the group as they were fellow Christians and I saw it as a great opportunity for networking. A friend of the group, Rod Cope, also joined us. He’s lived in Phnom Penh for quite a few years.

Dinner at Romdeng

Meet and greet dinner at Romdeng Restaurant

Dinner at Romdeng

Meet and greet dinner at Romdeng Restaurant

I’d been trying to get Sakhorn to have a towbar fitted to his vehicle for about four months before the tour was due to start but it was only fitted about five days beforehand, and he didn’t pick up the trailer until the morning of the tour. Talk about “just in time” planning and preparation! For some reason in Cambodia, trailers behind cars are uncommon, why I don’t know. They will pull any size trailer with a motorbike yet you see every van with the back door up and objects packed well outside the extremities of the vehicle instead of towing a trailer. Fortunately Bill and I had decided the previous night to transport everyone to Dara’s bike shop by tuk tuk, because Sakhorn didn’t arrive with the trailer until 30 or 40 minutes after we’d arrived at the shop.

Support vehicle with trailer

Support vehicle with trailer

Picking up the bikes from Dara

Picking up the bikes from Dara’s motorbike shop

Soon after we set out along Sisowath Quay in search of a service station as most of the bikes were nearly empty. I’d lost sleep the previous night worrying how we’d keep the group together in busy Phnom Penh traffic but it went very well. Bill took a wrong turn but I quickly rounded him up, Tin Tin also stopped the group and turned back. Thankfully we were soon on the highway and out of the city. About 40 km out, we turned off the highway onto a secondary road which followed the Mekong all the way to Kampong Cham so the group could relax a little and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of rural Cambodia.

In Kampong Cham we visited Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage, an organisation I’ve supported since my first trip to Cambodia in 2009. I’d left the three Daelim scooters there a few days before so Kay, Naomi and Jo got used to riding the bikes around the orphanage grounds. Most of the children were at school so the group decided to wait for them to come back. The group wanted to contribute some money to the orphanage and ended up giving $270, which was gratefully received by Pastor Meng Hong and his wife Thoun. Hong is the brother of Meng Aun Hour, and was responsible for the family’s conversion to Christianity many years before.

At Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage

At Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage

At Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage

At Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage

After leaving the orphanage we crossed the bamboo bridge to Koh Paen, something that has to be experienced to believe. The bridge is over 400 metres long, the structure is made from thick bamboo poles and crossbeams, and the decking is bamboo matting which moves underneath your bike as you pass over it. It also creates a lot of noise as the bamboo bends and flattens out again. I was very pleased to see a car coming across as we rode back, until you see one drive across, and feel the bridge bending under the weight, it’s difficult to believe that it is possible. I think everyone was very impressed with the bridge! Soon it will be history, the government is constructing a new bridge which is due for completion in 2017.

Bamboo bridge to Koh Paen

Bamboo bridge to Koh Paen

Sunset from bamboo bridge

Sunset from bamboo bridge

Next morning at the Stung Trong ferry crossing, it was necessary for Sakhorn to reverse the trailer all the way down the approach ramp and onto the barge, a distance of about 100 metres. He’d never reversed one before so it was a very painful process. Fortunately it was fairly light so it was easier for Tin Tin, Sak Kom and Vien to drag the trailer straight every time it jack-knifed. It seemed to take a long time until the car and trailer were parked on the barge.

Reversing onto the ferry

Reversing onto the ferry

Mekong River ferry

Mekong River ferry

As Tin Tin was riding aboard he decided to pop a wheely but ended up falling off in front of everyone. Fortunately the only thing hurt was his pride.

Tin Tin

Tin Tin

After arriving in Kratie, we travelled by car and bike to Kampi to see the freshwater dolphins. We saw a few from the boats but afterwards, whilst watching the sunset from a high vantage point above the river we saw many of them. Maybe they understood the boats had retired for the evening and it was safe to show themselves. It was very serene and peaceful sitting there and nobody was in any hurry to leave.

Sunset at the dolphin pool

Sunset at the dolphin pool

Dolphin watching

Dolphin watching

The ride to Mondolkiri province next day was fairly slow due to a few mechanical issues along the way. Jo’s scooter had a broken shock absorber which Tin Tin replaced in Snuol. Sakhorn’s minibus lost a seal out of a CV joint and lost most of the oil out of the diff, however there was nowhere to have it repaired enroute. I was quite surprised that it made it all the way to Sen Monorom without damaging the diff, if it was my own vehicle I wouldn’t have tried but Sakhorn was confident he would make it.

Replacing a broken shockie

Replacing a broken shockie in Snuol

The road started to climb into high country and was in excellent condition so we all had a great time on the bends, even the ladies on their scooters. Lunch was very late after arriving at the guesthouse, around 3 pm but worth the wait. Callum, an Aussie with a Khmer wife, ran a very good restaurant with a blend of Asian and Western food so we ended up there again that night, New Year’s Eve.

That night, I discussed the itinerary with Tin Tin and realised that I’d made a very big mistake planning to travel from Battambang to Koh Kong in one day, over the Cardamom Mountains. Tin Tin assured me it wasn’t possible. Another sleepless night, trying to come up with a solution.

Road into Sen Monorom

Road into Sen Monorom

Sen Monorom

Sen Monorom

Next morning, over breakfast, I discussed with the group what our options were from Battambang to Koh Kong. We decided to think about it during the day and discuss it further that evening. Afterwards we set out on what used to be called the Death Highway, heading for Banlung. Last time Sreyda and I had been that way, in 2011, one 60 km section had taken over 4 hours due to the loose sand, which at times was just a single track winding through the forest. We were a bit worried about the progress of the car, because the first few kilometres were quite rocky, but we’d only been stopped about 15 minutes at Koh Knek, about 100 km into the journey, when it arrived.

Rocky section just out of Sen Monorom

Rocky section just out of Sen Monorom

On the road to Banlung

On the road to Banlung

It was a good opportunity to have an early lunch so Sreyda and Sak Kom soon had baguettes and salad prepared, supplemented with coffee and sweet milk from the shop whose tables we’d occupied.

Sreyda making lunch

Sreyda – you’re supposed to be making lunch not eating it!

Lunch at Koh Knek

Lunch at Koh Knek

We stopped for a short break on the Srepok River bridge, a far cry from the humble ferry Sreyda and I had crossed on 4 years earlier. There are further changes coming to this isolated region, a hydroelectric dam and power station are under construction downstream.

Bridge over the Srepok River

New bridge over the Srepok River

Srepok River crossing in 2011

Srepok River crossing in 2011

After checking into the hotel at Banlung, we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing at Yeak Laom volcano lake, a short ride out of town. It was great to unwind and relax in the cool water after the last few days riding.

Afterwards we discussed our options for travelling from Battambang to Koh Kong. Doing it in one day was physically not possible, so we agreed to cancel the first night’s accommodation in Koh Kong, and book rooms at Pramoey, a small village we’d need to overnight in on the way. The unknown factor was whether the car could make it, especially since it would be towing a trailer loaded with 3 scooters.

Yeak Laom volcano lake

Yeak Laom volcano lake

Yeak Laom volcano lake

Yeak Laom volcano lake

Our hotel was the Rattanak Phnom Svy and they really looked after us, even parking our bikes in the lobby while we were downtown having dinner. It looked like a Honda showroom with the shiny floor tiles and plate glass windows. They’d used rubber thongs under the sidestands to protect the tiles and didn’t get upset when some of the bikes leaked oil overnight. Highly recommended!

Hotel lobby in Banlung

Hotel lobby in Banlung

Hotel lobby in Banlung

Hotel lobby in Banlung

We’d had such a great dinner at Sisters Restaurant the previous night that we returned next morning for breakfast. That was a mistake, as it took over two hours for everyone to be served. Fortunately it was an easy ride to Stung Treng and the delay wasn’t too much of a concern.

Sisters Restaurant, Banlung

Sisters Restaurant, Banlung

We had a fairly uneventful ride to Stung Treng, the only surprise was Kay’s Daelim running out of fuel enroute but Tin Tin was on hand to syphon a few litres out of the other bikes and get her going again. After checking in at the Golden River Hotel we went to visit the Women’s Development Centre where they weave silk fabric. It was disappointing to find that the silkworm farm is no longer in operation, all their thread is now bought in from Phnom Penh. Most of the ladies bought something in the gift shop.

When I called the accommodation in Koh Kong to amend our booking, I asked Lisa the owner if she knew what the road across the Cardamoms was like. She put me in contact with Nick Berry from Junglecross, who has run bike tours in the Cardamoms for years. It was so good to speak with Nick, and he recommended not taking the vehicle through, to send it around by the main road. So that’s what we ended up doing, I booked accommodation for the ladies in Phnom Penh and we’d meet up the following day in Koh Kong. It was such a relief to have arrived at a solution. I slept well that night.

Buying silk products

Buying silk products

Silk weaving

Silk weaving

On the way back to our hotel, someone spotted a very large wooden house back off the road a little way so we decided to go in and have a look what it was. Sreyda spoke to a young man inside the gate and he invited us in. It belonged to the former Provincial Governor who had moved to a different province but retained some staff at the house for security and maintenance. The house was a massive 1368 m² in area, built entirely from premium hardwood and luxury wood and cost 2.5 million USD to build.

Governor's House, Stung Treng

Governor’s House, Stung Treng

Governor's House, Stung Treng

Governor’s House, Stung Treng

After an early breakfast we were soon on our way to Khao Veng on the Laos border where we boarded 3 small boats and travelled up to Sopheakmith Waterfall. It was sad to see a casino/hotel under construction at the falls, it won’t be long before there’s also a bitumen road and the peace and sense of isolation will be gone forever. After the waterfall we briefly visited an island in Laos, giving me an opportunity to unload some Lao kip buying sugarcane juice for everyone to try.

Mekong riverboat

Mekong riverboat

At the Mekong waterfall

At the Mekong waterfall

After lunch at Preah Rumkel, back in Cambodia, we headed down the river to Stung Treng in a larger boat. At about the halfway mark, the boatman pulled into a sandy beach and a few people went swimming. We arrived back in Stung Treng just before dark and were dropped off right at the hotel.

Departing Don Khon, Laos

Departing Don Khon, Laos

Sunset on the Mekong

Sunset on the Mekong

Next day we had a fairly easy ride to Preah Vihear temple, stopping for an excellent lunch in Tbeng Meanchey on the way. Everyone on the bigger bikes rode up and the rest of the group went in a 4wd pickup. As it was Sunday, Wayne said a prayer at the edge of the escarpment. A special moment in a very beautiful setting. As some of the bikes didn’t have headlights we had to stick closely together on the way back to the guesthouse in Sra Eim. It was quite dark by the time we got there.

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple

After breakfast we headed off towards Siem Reap. I’d arranged for a friend, Mr Lucky, to meet us along the way at Kbal Spean where the riverbed and surrounds are carved with Hindu deities and many lingas. Normally you’d have to buy an Angkor Wat entry pass in Siem Reap to gain access but we were coming from the opposite direction, so having a contact like Mr Lucky made it possible to enter on the condition that the group purchased their passes on the same day. It was a bit of a rush though, as we had to also visit Banteay Srei Temple and the Landmine Museum along the way, arriving at the Angkor Wat ticket office 15 minutes before closing time.

The traffic was chaotic as we got closer to Siem Reap but the group managed to stay together all the way to the hotel. That night we had dinner at a Khmer BBQ restaurant and were joined by Pastor Reaksa Himm and his family, friends of the group who lived about 30 km outside Siem Reap. Next day was a free day, some of the group went to visit Pastor Reaksa while the others spent the day at Angkor Wat. Tin Tin and Vien worked on the bikes and gave them all a wash.

BBQ Restaurant in Siem Reap

BBQ Restaurant in Siem Reap

Bike maintenance day

Bike maintenance day

After leaving Siem Reap we called in to see Pastor Reaksa at Pouk Village. He showed us some of the work he’s done there, building a school and church, and he plans to build a retreat for people to come from overseas and stay. Continuing on to Battambang, we checked in at the Khemara Hotel and had lunch. Afterwards we went to Phnom Sampeau to see the temples and Khmer Rouge killing cave.

It was getting late by the time we left there and I thought it might have been too late to take a ride on the bamboo train (norry)  but in Cambodia anything is possible! The norry travelled about five kilometres along a very bumpy and poorly maintained track, stopping a few times along the way to allow returning norries to be dismantled to allow us to proceed ahead. We returned in darkness, the driver occasionally checking the track ahead with a flashlight.

Bamboo train

Bamboo train

Bamboo train

Bamboo train

After all the worrying and sleepless nights, it was finally time to split the group and make our separate ways to Koh Kong. Sakhorn headed off with the girls and 8 of us on the bigger bikes hit the road to Pramoey.

Splitting up in Battambang

Splitting up in Battambang

Ready for the Cardamoms

Ready for the Cardamoms

Tin Tin took the lead, as he knew the track and I rode at the back of the group. I took Vien on the back of my bike; if someone was injured and couldn’t ride we’d have a reserve to continue on with that bike. The first 65 km was easy but after fuelling up at the last gas station the road deteriorated quickly. The ruts were quite deep and slippery after a rain shower the night before.

Soon afterwards Vien gave Bill a hand to get his bike upright after he’d slipped into a deep rut and we stopped for a while for Tin Tin to repair his rear tyre. Another time we had to wait for a fully loaded truck to pass, the truck leaned sideways so much going through the ruts I don’t know how it didn’t roll over but the driver looked very relaxed.

Repairing a tyre

Repairing a tyre

On the road to Pramoey

On the road to Pramoey

After a few wet river crossings and lunch at a small roadside shop we arrived in Pramoey around 1:30 pm. The afternoon was spent relaxing, working on the bikes and wandering around town meeting the locals. Wayne wanted to drive one of the two wheeled tractors (iron buffalo) which are so common in Cambodia, so I managed to talk a local into letting him. We met a lady in a coffee shop who spoke good English, her name was Rani.

Pramoey Guesthouse

Pramoey Guesthouse

Vien & Lisa having a laugh

Vien & Lisa having a laugh

The road from Pramoey to O Saom was a lot easier than on the previous day but it would be a different story after rain. Some of the hills were quite steep and would be very slippery when wet. A couple of hours later we stopped at O Saom to fuel up and have a coffee. A man brought a crate of soft drink bottles full of fuel over to us and Tin Tin helped fill all the bikes. There were no more fuel stops now until Koh Kong.

Coffee shop at O Saom

Coffee shop at O Saom

A crate of fuel

A crate of fuel

From O Saom, the road improved with long sections of concrete. We passed a few Chinese hydroelectric power stations along the way and stopped near one for lunch. I was quite surprised when we arrived in Koh Kong about two hours before Sakhorn in the car.

Lunch stop in the Cardamoms

Lunch stop in the Cardamoms

River crossing in the Cardamoms

River crossing in the Cardamoms

After Sakhorn arrived in Koh Kong, we went for a sunset cruise on the river, it was very relaxing after the ride over the Cardamoms. That night we caught up with Nick Berry and his wife Coralie for dinner. It was great to meet them and thank them personally for their assistance. It was a shame that we only had one night to spend in Koh Kong, everyone would have liked to stay another day.

Koh Kong sunset

Koh Kong sunset

Cruising on the river at Koh Kong

Cruising on the river at Koh Kong

At the guesthouse in Koh Kong were a pair of friendly pugs, so friendly that I had to remove them from the car before we left. They’d jumped in themselves. Tin Tin wanted to take one home with him.

Tin Tin's mate

Tin Tin’s mate

From Koh Kong to Kep was an easy ride, the first 140 kilometres winding and sweeping through the rainforest was a real pleasure. The short section of Road 4 to Sihanoukville was busy with trucks travelling to and from the port, and we were all glad to turn off onto the Kampot-Kep road after lunch. Tin Tin had to clean a few air filters along the way, some of the bikes were having trouble running at higher speed on the good roads.

Bike maintenance enroute

Bike maintenance enroute

Lunch on the road

Lunch on the road

Our hotel in Kep was great, run by a Lao-French family. They put on a seafood BBQ dinner both nights we were there with all the goodies – prawns, crabs, squid, fish as well as salads. Everyone had a free day to do what they liked, I joined the Khmers at the beach to eat more seafood. The tour was nearly over and I think everyone was feeling a bit tired.

Seafood BBQ

Seafood BBQ

Seafood at Kep

Seafood at Kep

On the last day we stopped at Phnom Tamao zoo and Rod Cope was there to meet us. It was good to see him again and he wanted to ride back to Phnom Penh with us. We enjoyed a Khmer lunch of chicken and rice before heading off on the last stage into Phnom Penh.

Wayne and Rod

Wayne and Rod

Gibbon at Phnom Tamao

At Phnom Tamao zoo

We got away early enough to avoid peak hour traffic so it was a fairly easy run through Phnom Penh to Dara’s shop. The van arrived soon after and everyone loaded their gear into tuk tuks and departed to their hotels. I was sorry to see the tour end, although things didn’t always go to plan or on time, everyone had been very patient and tolerant. We met again that night at Khmer Surin Restaurant for a farewell dinner.

Farewell dinner

Farewell dinner

 

Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

www.paleriders.com.au

Tel:  +855 8876 12857

Email: owen@paleriders.com.au

Address: National Road 6, Samrong Village, Baray District, Kampong Thom Province, Kingdom of Cambodia.

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Categories: Motorcycle Tours, Paleriders Blog, Responsible Tourism | 2 Comments
 
 

Donations by Paleriders and friends in 2014

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted anything on my blog but it’s time I started again. Paleriders – Cambodia would like to sincerely thank everyone who donated money during 2014. A total of $20746 was donated, details are set out below. Major project for the year was completion of the new classrooms at Samroeng Village Primary School in February. We also provided support to the Jesus School, Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage, NACOPCA Orphanage, The Landmine Museum in Siem Reap, and helped Chanleak Chea with his Grace Sewing Centre in Kampong Cham. Highlight of the year for me was taking 23 kids from NACOPCA Orphanage to the beach in September. In 2015 I’d like to do the same for the kids at Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage.

Once again, thanks to everyone for your generous support.

New classrooms completed

New classrooms completed at Samroang Village Primary School

New classrooms completed

New classrooms completed at Samroang Village Primary School

Grace Sewing Centre, Kampong Cham

Grace Sewing Centre, Kampong Cham

Kids from NACOPCA Orphanage at the beach

Kids from NACOPCA Orphanage at the beach

Kids from NACOPCA Orphanage at the beach

Kids from NACOPCA Orphanage at the beach

 

List of donors:


John and Lola Holcombe Samroeng Village Primary School $50.00 opening party 06-01-14
Graeme & Delvene Read Samroeng Village Primary School $168.00 opening party 07-01-14
Hansen Family Samroeng Village Primary School $50.00 opening party 07-01-14
Owen & Sreyda Samroeng Village Primary School $600.00 cement/sand 23-01-14
Owen & Sreyda Samroeng Village Primary School $60.00 paint 24-01-14
Owen & Sreyda Samroeng Village Primary School $300.00 mesh to fill upper bays 24-01-14
Owen & Sreyda Samroeng Village Primary School $10.00 locks 28-01-14
Owen & Sreyda Samroeng Village Primary School $250.00 opening party 01-02-14
Owen & Sreyda Samroeng Village Primary School $70.00 signwriting 01-02-14
Owen & Sreyda Samroeng Village Primary School $25.00 fit windows and door locks 01-02-14
Greg McCubben & Karina Lynch Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage $250.00 for the kids – clothes, shoes etc 04-02-14
Kelvin & Tina Fiedler Jesus School $1,000.00 Fundrazr for Jesus School 18-03-14
Owen & Sreyda Jesus School $175.00 support 2 students + 1 teacher 11-03-14
Graeme & Delvene Read Jesus School $100.00 Fundrazr for Jesus School 02-03-14
Peter and Kirschty Birt Jesus School $100.00 Fundrazr for Jesus School 11-03-14
Phil and Lydia Hocking Jesus School $200.00 Fundrazr for Jesus School 02-03-14
Robyn Dittrich Jesus School $100.00 Fundrazr for Jesus School 25-05-14
Colin Turnbull Jesus School $250.00 Fundrazr for Jesus School 11-04-14
Brian and Aon Thomson Jesus School $100.00 Fundrazr for Jesus School 11-04-14
Sandy Martin Jesus School $100.00 Fundrazr for Jesus School 02-04-14
Adrienne Clarey Jesus School $50.00 Fundrazr for Jesus School 15-04-14
Tanya Denison Leak’s sewing centre $150.00 Sewing machine 09-06-14
John Bourke Leak’s sewing centre $150.00 Sewing machine 09-06-14
Owen & Sreyda Leak’s sewing centre $150.00 Sewing machine 09-06-14
Brett Hardwick& Cherie Green Leak’s sewing centre $300.00 Sewing machine 21-01-14
Owen & Sreyda Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage $70.00 Rice 03-06-14
Dave Lumley NACOPCA Orphanage $200.00 Power and water 18-08-14
Adrienne Clarey Leak’s house project $70 Building materials 05-08-14
Owen & Sreyda Leak’s house project $50.00 Building materials 05-08-14
Anita Thrupp Jesus School $50.00 Fundrazr for Jesus School 20-08-14
Owen & Sreyda NACOPCA Orphanage $100.00 Power and water 26-08-14
Owen & Sreyda NACOPCA Orphanage $300.00 Beach trip 31-08-14
Geoff Watson (Paleriders) NACOPCA Orphanage $250.00 Beach trip 31-08-14
Colin Turnbull NACOPCA Orphanage $200.00 Beach trip 31-08-14
John and Lola Holcombe NACOPCA Orphanage $150.00 Beach trip 31-08-14
Edna & Tony NACOPCA Orphanage $50.00 Beach trip 31-08-14
Owen & Sreyda Jesus School $130.00 School books 15-09-14
Sarina State High Gr 10 1977 Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage $250.00 Rice, noodles, soap, shampoo etc 07-10-14
Owen & Sreyda Landmine Museum, Siem Reap $240.00 Schools program 11-11-14
Owen & Sreyda Landmine Museum, Siem Reap $113.00 Toothpaste, brushes, soap etc 11-11-14
Anonymous donor from WA Jesus School & Orphanage $1,400.00 Extra $1400 for Jesus School 30-01-14
Anonymous donor from WA Jesus School & Orphanage $1,780.00 Students x2, 1 teacher, extra $1400 24-02-14
Anonymous donor from WA Jesus School & Orphanage $760.00 Students x2, 1 teacher 21-03-14
Anonymous donor from WA Jesus School & Orphanage $1,140.00 Students x2, 1 teacher 24-05-14
Anonymous donor from WA Jesus School & Orphanage $2,140.00 Extra $1000 for Jesus School 28-07-14
Anonymous donor from WA Jesus School & Orphanage $2,400.00 Sothearo $500, books $1000 28-09-14
Anonymous donor from WA Jesus School & Orphanage $3,015.00 Christmas party, uniforms, prizes 30-11-14
Robert and Kazuko Longley Jesus School & Orphanage $1,000.00 Christmas party, uniforms, prizes 28-11-14
Owen & Sreyda Jesus School & Orphanage $200.00 Christmas party, uniforms, prizes 28-11-14

TOTAL $20,746.00

 

Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

www.paleriders.com.au

Tel: +855 887612857

Email: owen@paleriders.com.au

Address: National Road 6, Samrong Village, Baray District, Kampong Thom Province, Kingdom of Cambodia.

Copyright © Paleriders – Cambodia. All rights reserved.

Website created by Owen Holcombe

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Donations by Paleriders and friends in 2013

The year is not finished yet but Paleriders and friends have helped to build 3 schools in 2013 as well as contributing to many worthy causes. In total we have given away $39,029. Thank you so much to everyone for your generosity.

Bobbie Jo Busiko Samroeng Pagoda School building $65.00 desks 16/03/2013
Brett Hardwick& Cherie Green Chuuk Ksach school – well $200.00 dig well 15/02/2013
Brett Hardwick& Cherie Green Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage $110.00 2 bikes 30/09/2013
Cliff & Marj Herod Samroeng Pagoda School building $150.00 desks 28/02/2013
Cliff & Marj Herod Samroeng Village Primary School $100.00 desks 02/07/2013
Colin & Adam Turnbull Samroeng Pagoda School building $500.00 10000 bricks 08/01/2013
Colin Turnbull Samroeng Pagoda School building $100.00 1 tonne cement 14/04/2013
Cory Anderson Samroeng Pagoda School building $100.00 1 tonne cement 22/03/2013
Dan & Danijela Jukic Samroeng Village Primary School $13,500.00 building 17/05/2013
Dean Pages & Jum Samroeng Pagoda School building $100.00 desks 05/03/2013
Edna & Tony Samroeng Pagoda School building $105.00 desks 16/03/2013
Gavin & Karen Foot Samroeng Pagoda School building $105.00 desks 12/03/2013
Geoff Watson (Paleriders) Chuuk Ksach school – toilet $200.00 build toilet 08/01/2013
Geoff Watson (Paleriders) Jesus School $5,000.00 building 03/03/2013
Geoff Watson (Paleriders) Samroeng Village Primary School $2000 .00 building 02/10/2013
Geoff Watson (Paleriders) Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage $400.00 university fees for one student 01/08/2013
Graeme & Delvene Read Samroeng Pagoda School building $70.00 desks 11/03/2013
Graeme & Delvene Read Jesus School $170.00 books – Grade 1 30/09/2013
Graeme Garrett Jesus School $100.00 desks 28/04/2013
Heather Harmer Samroeng Pagoda School building $35.00 cement/sand 27/03/2013
Jo Pearce Samroeng Pagoda School building $50.00 .5 tonne cement 15/02/2013
John and Lola Holcombe Samroeng Pagoda School building $70.00 desks 28/02/2013
Kelvin Fiedler Samroeng Village – small English classroom $200.00 desks 21/03/2013
Kelvin Fiedler Jesus School $1,000.00 building 10/05/2013
Kelvin Fiedler Jesus School $1,000.00 building 18/06/2013
Kiri Blanch Samroeng Pagoda School building $35.00 desk 11/03/2013
Kirschty, Del and Sarie Jesus School $120.00 books
Lydia Birt Samroeng Pagoda School building $35.00 cement/sand 14/03/2013
Marcus Borg Samroeng Pagoda School building $35.00 cement/sand 14/03/2013
Mark Birtles Samroeng Village Primary School $31.00 desks 06/08/2013
Mark Cesnik Samroeng Pagoda School building $100.00 1 tonne cement 15/02/2013
Mark Cesnik Samroeng Pagoda School building $50.00 cement/sand 12/04/2013
Nareen Edmonds Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage $55.00 1 bike 04/10/2013
Noel Nicholls Chuuk Ksach school – toilet $50.00 toilet roof 20/08/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Samroeng Pagoda School building $188.00 2 tonnes cement 08/01/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Chuuk Ksach school – toilet $100.00 build toilet 08/01/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Samroeng Pagoda steps $200.00 build front steps 15/01/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Samroeng Pagoda steps $200.00 build front steps 17/02/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Chuuk Ksach school – swings $150.00 buy playground equipment 16/02/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Samroeng Pagoda School building $200.00 desks 10/03/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Samroeng Pagoda steps $350.00 build front steps 10/03/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Jesus School $1,000.00 building 16/08/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Samroeng Pagoda steps $350.00 build front steps ??
Paleriders – Cambodia Jesus School $250.00 desks 20/05/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Jesus School $200.00 books 08/10/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage $55.00 1 bike 04/10/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Samroeng Village Primary School $3500.00 roof 01/12/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Stung Treng Women’s Centre $200.00 donation 01/06/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage $200.00 donation 01/06/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Landmine Museum, Siem Reap $200.00 donation 01/06/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Sunrise Children’s Village, Siem Reap $200.00 donation 01/06/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage $200.00 donation 10/11/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia NACOPCA Otphanage $200.00 donation 09/11/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Landmine Museum, Siem Reap $200.00 donation 16/11/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Soi Dog Foundation $1,200.00 donation Annual
Paleriders – Cambodia Vietnam Veterans Mineeclearing Team – Cambodia $1,200.00 donation Annual
Paleriders – Cambodia Jesus School $2,100.00 support 2 students + 1 teacher Annual
Paleriders – Cambodia Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage $400.00 university fees for one student 01/08/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Samroeng Village $300.00 university fees for one student 01/09/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia Philipine Typhoon Relief $250 17/11/2013
Peter and Kirschty Birt Samroeng Pagoda School building $100.00 1 tonne cement 12/03/2013
Peter and Kirschty Birt Jesus School $100 Christmas gifts 02/12/2013
Phil Bentley Samroeng Village Primary School $100.00 desks 30/08/2013
Rene Fuller Samroeng Village Primary School $100.00 desks 06/07/2013
Robert Longley Chuuk Ksach school – toilet $200.00 build toilet 08/01/2013
Robert Longley Chuuk Ksach school – swings $200.00 buy playground equipment 16/02/2013
Robert Longley Samroeng Pagoda School building $500.00 roof 25/02/2013
Robert Longley Samroeng Village – small English classroom $200.00 desks 11/04/2013
Robert Longley Jesus School $145.00 desks 14/05/2013
Robert Longley Samroeng Village Primary School $300.00 desks 10/09/2013
Robert Longley Samroeng Village Primary School $500.00 roof 08/11/2013

 

 

Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

www.paleriders.com.au

Tel: +855 887612857

Email: owen@paleriders.com.au

Address: National Road 6, Samrong Village, Baray District, Kampong Thom Province, Kingdom of Cambodia.

Copyright © Paleriders – Cambodia. All rights reserved.

Website created by Owen Holcombe

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Categories: Paleriders Blog, Volunteer Projects | Comments Off on Donations by Paleriders and friends in 2013
 
 

Paleriders tour – September 22nd to 29th 2013

This tour came about through catching up with a school friend, Kirschty Birt, on Facebook. Kirschty and I went to high school together but we hadn’t seen each other for about 35 years. She asked me in February if I’d be interested in helping plan a holiday in Cambodia and Laos for her and a friend, Delvene Read. I was happy to make the arrangements, including the flights to and from Lao.  Later, Kirschty’s younger sister Sarie also decided to join the trip. Some friends of Del, who were in a craft club, gave her 290 hand made tee-shirts to bring over and give to Cambodian kids she met on her trip. I had some doubts how she would manage to bring that many over in her baggage but as it turned out there wasn’t a problem, and she didn’t have to pay for excess baggage. Del had raised money to pay for excess baggage, and as it wasn’t required she generously donated it to the Jesus School to purchase new text books.

290 hand made tee-shirts

290 hand made tee-shirts

Day 1 – September 22nd

Da and I arrived at Blue Lime  mid afternoon, and caught up with Kirschty, Sarie and Del soon afterwards. They’d flown in from Singapore that morning. After dinner we went by tuk tuk to the night markets and had a fairly early night, ready for an early start next day.

Sreyda meeting the ladies at Blue Lime

Sreyda meeting the ladies at Blue Lime

Day 2 – September 23rd

I’d arranged for a couple of tuk tuks to take us to visit a school, the Killing Fields, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and a small orphanage. The drivers, Samnang and Leang are brothers and we’ve been good friends for a number of years now. Although we were on the road by about 8 am, we made slow progress through the streets of Phnom Penh. A lot of roads were closed off as the newly elected government were being sworn in by the King that morning. We finally arrived at the Jesus School around 9:30, and were met by Meng who runs the school. Paleriders helped raise funding for construction of three new classrooms and they’d just been finished. After the usual introductions and a tour of the school, the ladies handed out about 100 of the tee-shirts they’d brought over from Australia. The children were very happy with them and couldn’t wait to try them on.

Travelling in style

Travelling in style

Kirschty with some of the kids

Kirschty with some of the kids

Del handing out tee-shirts to the kids

Del handing out tee-shirts to the kids

After reluctantly leaving the school, we headed further out of town to the Killing Field Museum and Memorial. It had been about 4 years since I was last there and I was quite impressed with the self guiding system that had been introduced. Everyone is given a type of MP3 player with headphones and a recording describes each particular section along the walking track. Interspersed throughout the commentary were interviews with people who’d lived through the Khmer Rouge era, some who’d lost family at the Killing Field, and people who actually worked there and carried out the atrocities. It was a very sober group who gathered for lunch afterwards. Kirschty commented that 1975 to 1979 were our high school years and at the time we were both quite unaware of the events happening in Cambodia, or Kampuchea as it was then known.

After lunch we returned to Phnom Penh to visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, where the people killed at Cheung Oek had been imprisoned and tortured. Mere words cannot describe the suffering and horrors that were inflicted on the inmates, by their fellow countrymen and women. Of particular interest to us was the transcript of David Lloyd Scott’s confession, he was an Australian yachtie who was unfortunately captured by the Khmer Rouge and executed after being severely tortured. It is believed that his body was burned in the street outside Tuol Sleng.

Memorial stupa at Cheung Oek

Memorial stupa at Cheung Oek

Prison regulations, Tuol Sleng

Prison regulations, Tuol Sleng

Afterwards we visited the children at NACOPCA Orphanage, a much happier place than the previous one. The kids here are always so pleased to see visitors, they are very outgoing and not at all shy. The orphanage is run by a Cambodian family who were involved in the TV and film industry, so the kids are taught to dance and perform on stage from an early age. They make all of their traditional dance costumes themselves.  The ladies gave everyone their tee-shirts and also donated money.

Kids at NACOPCA Orphanage

Kids at NACOPCA Orphanage

Making a donation at NACOPCA Orphanage

Making a donation at NACOPCA Orphanage

After dinner at the Boomerang Cafe, the ladies went for a Seeing Hands massage by the blind and emerged an hour later looking a bit bruised and battered.

Day 3 – September 24th

Sreyda’s cousin picked us up around 9 am, and progress out of the city was quite slow due to the previously mentioned road closures. We were travelling to our home at Baray, in Kampong Thom province so that the ladies could see some schools  Paleriders has been involved in building. Kirschty and Del had helped raise money to provide desks for one of them so they were keen to see the school and meet the students. We stopped at Skun on the way to show the ladies a local delicacy, deep fried tarantulas.

Fried tarantulas

Fried tarantulas

Sarie tasting a spider

Sarie tasting a spider

After arriving at our place, we lunched on fresh baguettes with lettuce and tomato. Kirschty had brought over some mango chutney and pickles so I had to try them out on mine, the chutney was delicious, just like Mum’s.  The ladies were quite impressed with the view from our back verandah, looking westward towards Lake Tonle Sap.

View from our verandah

View from our verandah

When the day had cooled off, we went for a look at the new classrooms under construction at Samroeng Village Primary School. These should be finished by mid-October, there have been a few delays mainly due to wet weather.

New classrooms

New classrooms

Then we visited the school at Wat Samroeng where Kirschty and Del had donated money towards the construction and fitout. The kids were finished their English and about to go home but stayed back to talk to the ladies. They never miss an opportunity to practise their English with “barangs” (Westerners), that’s the best way to learn correct pronunciation. The ladies gave away more tee-shirts and also school supplies.

School at Wat Samroeng

School at Wat Samroeng

After an excellent meal of fish amok from Solar Cafe Baray, we returned to the pagoda for a night of dancing. The ladies were expecting some traditional Khmer dancing but instead were treated to some Gangnam Style by the locals. No worries, everyone got up and danced and had a great night.

Day 4 – September 25th

A short trip to Kampong Cham today, passing through the rubber plantations of Chamkar Andoung and Chamkar Leu. We stopped to have a closer look at the latex oozing out of the trees into collection cups which looked like they were made from coconut shells. A short detour to Phnom Srey (Woman Mountain) to visit the various temples before arrival in Kampong Cham where we were amazed by the height of the Mekong River, it was so high that the street had been sandbagged in an attempt to keep water out of shops along the riverfront.

Sreyda and Sarie in a rubber plantation

Sreyda and Sarie in a rubber plantation

Flooding in Kampong Cham

Flooding in Kampong Cham

After lunch at the Lazy Mekong Daze Cafe, we headed out to the Kar Chuoy Dai Orphanage to meet the children and give away more shirts. All of their land was under water but fortunately the building was high and dry. The children here are not as accustomed to visitors as the ones at NACOPCA but after their initial shyness they were excited to see us.

Kirschty handing out tee-shirts

Kirschty handing out tee-shirts

Children with their new shirts

Children with their new shirts

Flooding at the orphanage

Flooding at the orphanage

Afterwards we went to Wat Nokor, a fairly new temple built inside a 10th century ruin where I’d previously arranged for the monks to perform some blessings for our group. After some initial confusion over what we actually wanted, we were showered with holy water while the monks chanted, seemingly without drawing breath. The ladies mentioned later that this was the highlight of the tour so far.

After being blessed by the monks

After being blessed by the monks

Day 5 – September 26th

By our itinerary we should have gone to Kratie, but with the amount of water coming down the Mekong, and the need to make two crossings by ferry, I considered it prudent to change our plans a little. Consequently we retraced our route from the previous day, and headed for Tbeng Meanchey in Preah Vihear Province instead. It was a fairly uneventful day, with a torrential downpour in the afternoon. Unfortunately, as I’d chosen to ride, I was soon saturated and quite cold. The ladies had a scenic tour of the town when we arrived, as our driver had forgotten the route to the guesthouse. The Vattanak is fairly new, and very well appointed but enormously expensive at $17 a night! That night we had a great meal at Phnom Tbeng Meanchey Restaurant and managed to find our way back to the guesthouse without too many detours.

Vattanak Guesthouse

Vattanak Guesthouse

Day 6 – September 27th

A fairly early start saw us on the road to Prasat Preah Vihear by 8:30. It took about 90 minutes to travel to the ticket office at the foot of the mountain, then the ladies were transported to the top by four wheel drive whilst I rode the bike. Sreyda had bought cigarettes, noodles and lollies to give the soldiers and their families who live there, as the temple is on the Thai border and the surrounding land is under dispute. It is quite a walk from the parking area to the temple itself, perched on a 500 metre escarpment overlooking Cambodia. Fortunately the day was overcast and not at all hot. After returning from the temple, we had lunch at a small restaurant before heading off to Anlong Veng.

Transport to Prasat Preah Vihear

Transport to Prasat Preah Vihear

Prasat Preah Vihear

Prasat Preah Vihear

Del having a rest high above Cambodia

Del having a rest high above Cambodia

On arrival in Anlong Veng I’d planned to take the ladies to see Pol Pot’s grave, in the Damrek Mountains on the Thai border. Unfortunately the road was cut due to floodwater but we spent an interesting hour watching the locals negotiate a washed out creek crossing not far out of town. They even managed to build a small bridge to allow motorbikes to cross. Next morning we found a way around the washout and visited Ta Mok’s house, unfortunately during another downpour.

Washed out road in Anlong Veng

Washed out road in Anlong Veng

Day 7 – September 28th

Not a good start for me, as it was raining when we checked out of the hotel and I was riding but it stopped about 30 km down the road towards Siem Reap. We were meeting my friend Mr Lucky on the way, he’d arranged our Angkor Wat entry tickets which are required to visit Kbal Spean and Banteay Srei temple.  At Kbal Spean there are numerous carved lingas (penises) in the riverbed and also carvings of Hindu deities. After a humid but not too strenuous walk we found that the river level was too high to see the carvings. Nevertheless, the ladies were not to disappointed and plan to return at a drier time of year.

Walking to Kbal Spean

Walking to Kbal Spean

Lookout at Kbal Spean

Lookout at Kbal Spean

After lunch at a local restaurant we travelled a further 15 km to Banteay Srei temple. This is a particularly beautiful temple, with intricately carved figures in the pinkish sandstone, contrasting perfectly with the growth of lichen on the upper sections. Just down the road from Banteay Srei we stopped at the Landmine Museum, a reminder that although the war is over these leftovers continue to maim and kill Cambodians and will continue to for many years to come.

Banteay Srei temple

Banteay Srei temple

Banteay Srei temple

Banteay Srei temple

Before reaching Siem Reap, we stopped at a roadside stall to buy palm sugar. The palm sap is condensed in large open boilers, about 7 litres of sap is required to make 1 kg of sugar.

Making palm sugar

Making palm sugar

Making palm sugar

Making palm sugar

That night we went to a Khmer BBQ Restaurant, all you can eat for $5, followed by a visit to the Night Markets.

Day 8 – September 29th

Last day of the tour and the ladies spent most of the day at Angkor Wat with Mr Lucky. Sreyda and I caught up with them briefly during the day but pretty much left them to their own devices as we had a few people to catch up with in town.

At Angkor Wat

At Angkor Wat

We met that night at the Temple Club for dinner, then watched the Apsara dancers upstairs for a while before returning to the hotel. Next morning Sreyda and I headed home to Baray, leaving the ladies with Mr Lucky to visit a floating village before flying to Luang Prabang that afternoon.

Apsara dancers at the Temple Club

Apsara dancers at the Temple Club

Thank you Kirschty, Del and Sarie for coming to visit Cambodia, I hope you enjoyed the tour as much as Da and I did. We look forward to your next trip; can you make it in the dry season please!

 

 

Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

www.paleriders.com.au

Tel: +855 887612857

Email: owen@paleriders.com.au

Address: National Road 6, Samrong Village, Baray District, Kampong Thom Province, Kingdom of Cambodia.

Copyright © Paleriders – Cambodia. All rights reserved.

Website created by Owen Holcombe

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Two new classrooms at Samroeng Village Primary School

Some time ago a generous Australian donor gave me $5000 AUD to help build another classroom block at the main primary school in my village. Whilst waiting for more funds to come in so that the work could commence, another donor from Australia gave me the full amount estimated to finish the work, $13500 AUD. A couple of months before, I’d obtained a quote from the local building materials merchant to supply everything and he gave me a figure of $9500. I also had a quote from a builder of $3500 for the construction. I approached the building materials merchant two months later to sign a contract, when I had enough money, but he’d changed his mind. He wanted to engage his own builder, and wanted $20000 to supply materials and construct. This was much more than I was prepared to pay, and having just finished some extensions on my own house, I knew he was taking advantage of me. So Sreyda and I decided do the buying ourselves and she’d do all the organising. She is quite good at it, she managed the building of our house and the extensions. The original $5000 AUD I was given has now been used to commence work on another two classrooms at the Jesus School, Phnom Penh.

See my previous blogpost http://www.paleriders.com.au/two-new-classrooms-for-jesus-school-phnom-penh/

The school was finished and handed over in February 2014. It ended up costing around the same as the building materials merchant estimated but I know it was built stronger than he would have done it. There was probably too much cement and steel went into it but it will last a long time.

Delivering sand

Delivering sand

 

Large rock for foundations

Large rock for foundations

 

Reinforcing steel

Reinforcing steel

 

Soft steel for ties

Soft steel for ties

 

Samroeng Village Primary School

20000 bricks

 

Samroeng Village Primary School

Cutting reinforcing bars

 

Samroeng Village Primary School

Steel fixing

 

Samroeng Village Primary School

Preparing foundations

 

Samroeng Village Primary School

Construction site

 

Samroeng Village Primary School

Construction site

 

Samroeng Village Primary School

Preparing reinforcing steel for foundations

 

Samroeng Village Primary School

Srey Nyt and Rathsa supervising construction

 

Footings for columns

Footings for columns

 

Footings for columns

Footings for columns

 

Laying brick foundations

Laying brick foundations

 

Laying brick foundations

Laying brick foundations

 

Laying brick foundations

Laying brick foundations

 

Laying brick foundations

Laying brick foundations

 

Steel ties for column reinforcing

Steel ties for column reinforcing

 

Making up reinforcement for columns

Making up reinforcement for columns

 

Foundations taking shape

Foundations taking shape

 

Timber for formwork

Timber for formwork

 

No cement mixers here

No cement mixers here

 

Working on the foundations

Working on the foundations

 

Sreyda the Project Manager

Sreyda the Project Manager

 

Concreting the foundations

Concreting the foundations

 

Concreting the foundations

Concreting the foundations

 

Concreting the foundations

Concreting the foundations

 

Formwork stripped off

Formwork stripped off

 

Formwork stripped off

Formwork stripped off

 

Making up formwork for columns

Making up formwork for columns

 

Buying doors and windows

Buying doors and windows

Pouring the upper beams

Pouring the upper beams

 

Windows fitted

Windows fitted

 

Brickwork nearing completion

Brickwork nearing completion

 

Concrete beams poured

Concrete beams poured

 

Fill for the floor

Fill for the floor

Windows fitted

Windows fitted

 

Floor filled ready for concrete

Floor filled ready for concrete

 

Samroeng Village Primary School

 

Samroeng Village Primary School

 

Samroeng Village Primary School

 

Samroeng Village Primary School

 

Another load of rock

Another load of rock

More large rocks

More large rocks

Two new classrooms

Two new classrooms

New classrooms completed

New classrooms completed

New classrooms completed

New classrooms completed

 

 

Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

www.paleriders.com.au

Tel: +855 887612857

Email: owen@paleriders.com.au

Address: National Road 6, Samrong Village, Baray District, Kampong Thom Province, Kingdom of Cambodia.

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Two new classrooms for Jesus School, Phnom Penh

We’d thought for a while about helping to add more rooms to the Jesus School in Phnom Penh. It was built to provide an education for the kids from the nearby rubbish dump, which has since closed, but student numbers have grown to 250 now and the original four room building is too small. The plan had always been to add another floor on top, but after obtaining a quote the cost was double what we had available. A friend suggested that we look at building a separate, single storey building and that is what we decided on. Paleriders – Cambodia already had a $5000 donation from a generous donor in Australia, which was to be used to build two more classrooms at the main primary school in Samroeng Village, Kampong Thom but another Australian had since donated the full amount for that project. The $5000 was diverted to the Jesus School, along with another $2000 from an Australian working in Laos. This was added to the $4000 which the Jesus School already had to use for the project.

 

Jesus School, Phnom Penh

Foundations almost completed

 

 The rubbish dump before it closed a few years ago.

 

 

Building the foundations for two new classrooms.

 

Jesus School, Phnom Penh

Brickwork in progress

 

Brickwork in progress.

 

Painting walls

Painting walls

 

Painting walls

Painting walls

 

Painting walls

Painting walls

 

Wall painting in progress

 

Roof completed

Roof completed

 

Roof completed

Nearly finished

Nearly finished

 

Building almost completed

 

Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

www.paleriders.com.au

Tel: +855 612857

Email: owen@paleriders.com.au

Address: National Road 6, Samrong Village, Baray District, Kampong Thom Province, Kingdom of Cambodia.

Copyright © Paleriders – Cambodia. All rights reserved.

Website created by Owen Holcombe

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Paleriders tour – May 27th to June 3rd 2013

It’s been a while since I posted anything on my blog but I’ve got a bit to write about since the last tour. I was fortunate to have a couple of workmates interested in doing a Paleriders tour, so after months of talking about it the day finally arrived. I flew into Phnom Penh from Laos on May 22 and was met at the airport by my wife Sreyda and Mr Geoff.

We travelled to our home in Baray next morning to prepare the bikes and get them to Kampong Cham, the starting point of the tour. KC is about 80 km from home, a nice ride through some of the finest agricultural land in Cambodia. While we were in Baray, I took Geoff to January 1 dam, about 20 km from home. Now it is a pleasant place to go for a swim and relax, but it has a bloody past. It was constructed by the Khmer Rouge regime utilising thousands of displaced people under conditions of extreme starvation and abuse. It is estimated that over 10000 people died there.

On May 25th, we took the six bikes to Kampong Cham. Sreyda’s brother Rhum, her brother-in-law and nephew rode three of the bikes to save us having to do several trips. As it turned out, it was the first time Rhum had ever been to Kampong Cham. Hard to believe for us seasoned travellers but a lot of Cambodians have never even been to Phnom Penh, let alone seen the ocean or been to Angkor Wat. On the way the float in Geoff’s carburettor stuck and fuel leaked everywhere but a couple of taps with a handy rock sorted out that problem. We carried the rock for the rest of the trip, just in case, but didn’t need to use it again. We spent the afternoon in the markets buying stuff to give to the kids at the orphanage when we arrived back on the 27th. I’d allocated $200 for this, and we ended up buying a set of clothes for each of them, toothpaste, shampoo, noodles, biscuits, soft drinks and 100 kg of rice. A little bit goes a long way in Cambodia.

On the 26th we hired a car and Geoff, Sreyda, Srey Troup and I travelled to Phnom Penh to meet the rest of the riders. They were staying at Blue Lime so Da and I had also booked in there. Tim, Warren and Phil were already there by the time we arrived so after the introductions were over we ended up walking along Sisowath Quay and having dinner at Sinh Foo. The food there is very good and not expensive. Phil couldn’t get over how busy it was along the riverfront, the constant stream of traffic never seemed to diminish. Cambodians love to go outside in the evening, to eat and socialise and escape the heat of their homes I suppose.

Day 1 – May 27th

Da’s cousin picked us up in his van fairly early and we headed off to Kampong Cham. A short stop at Skun gave the boys a chance to check out a peculiarly Cambodian delicacy – fried tarantulas. Strangely, nobody was too keen to try them. We arrived in KC around lunch time, so after checking into the Monorom VIP Hotel we headed off to Lazy Mekong Daze for something to eat. Afterwards we picked up the bikes from the guesthouse where I’d stored them and the boys had a bit of a practice run before we set out for the bamboo bridge to Koh Paen. For the uninitiated, the bamboo bridge can be a bit daunting. It feels very unusual riding on bamboo matting, it moves as if alive. However, we all made it across without incident and went for a bit of a look around the island. It is quite large, around 12 km in length and home to a considerable number of people who generally work in agriculture or fishing.

 

Bamboo bridge

 

Bamboo bridge

Bamboo bridge

 

At Koh Paen

 

After returning across the bridge we called at the Kar Chouy Dai Orphanage to visit Pastor Hong and distribute the goods we’d bought a couple of days before. As always, the kids were pleased to see us.

 

Distributing gifts

Distributing gifts

 

Happy kids

Happy kids

 

We had a game of volleyball with the kids but weren’t anywhere near up to their standard, or fitness level.

 

Volleyball with the kids

Volleyball with the kids

 

Afterwards we rode to Wat Nokor, a pre-Angorian ruin a few kilometres out of town. In all my visits to Kampong Cham I’d never bothered to have a close look at it but I was pleasantly surprised. It is a hidden gem, well worth taking a little time  to have a look.

 

At Wat Nokor

At Wat Nokor

 

Day 2 – May 28th

A fairly early start and a lovely 20 km ride upriver from Kampong Cham brought us to Wat Hanchey, another hilltop temple. I believe this is one of the most enjoyable rides in Cambodia, you can see most aspects of agricultural and riverine life in that short distance. After a while a gibbon arrived to see if we had any food. He wasn’t too keen on the mango I gave him, he seemed to object to the sticky juice on his hands.

 

Friendly gibbon

Friendly gibbon

 

From there the road was dirt, following the river until we reached the ferry crossing at Stung Trong.

 

Mekong River ferry

Mekong River ferry

 

There was a bit of dirt on the other side of the river, as we travelled through Cham (Muslim) villages towards our destination, Kratie. Not as much dirt as last year though, the road has improved a great deal. An election year helps with those sort of things. We stopped along the road for lunch, prepared by Sreyda with the assistance of Srey Troup and Sakhorn the driver. We almost missed an afternoon thunderstorm but all ended up soaked. It was a relief from the heat though, and by the time we arrived in Kratie we’d pretty much dried out again. After checking in at the Santepheap Hotel, we piled into the van and travelled to Kampi Pool to see the rare and endangered Irrawaddy Dolphins. It wasn’t the best day for dolphin spotting but we saw a few, although quite a way off.

 

At Kampi Pool

At Kampi Pool

 

Day 3 – May 29th

We rode to Kampi Resort, stopping for a short while  at the rapids where thatched restaurants are built almost in the water. Further on, we arrived at Wat Sar Sar Mou Roi (100 Column Temple). In the temple grounds is the Mekong Turtle Conservation Centre, which gives an insight into the lives of another endangered species.

 

Kampi Resort

Kampi Resort

 

Wat Sar Sar Moi Roi

Wat Sar Sar Moi Roi

 

Mekong Turtle Conservation Center

Mekong Turtle Conservation Center

 

Heading back to the main highway, Tim’s bike developed a flat tyre. Fortunately there was a repair place 200 metres away so while the tube was patched I sped off to stop Warren and Srey Troup who were still riding towards Stung Treng.  Sreyda and Sakhorn had gone ahead in the van to prepare lunch. Phil had asked if we could stop along the road to see inside someone’s house, so Da was going to find a typical roadside abode and stop there to share our lunch with the residents. We ended up sharing our meal with a woman, her daughter and grandson. The men were away working in the ricefields.

 

Roadside lunch stop

Roadside lunch stop

 

Inside a Cambodian home

Inside a Cambodian home

 

On arrival in Stung Treng I found that Warren’s bike needed a new chain and sprockets, and as I didn’t feel much like doing the work myself I asked a young bloke at our guesthouse to take the bike somewhere and get them replaced. I gave him $30 and they changed the front brake shoes as well. Meanwhile we sought out the Women’s Development Centre. It ended up taking quite a while to find, and we just got there before it closed. The Centre was established to provide employment and a purpose for women from the area and strives for self-sufficiency. All stages of the silk making process can be seen, from breeding the worms to finished fabrics which are on sale under the Mekong Blue label.  Everyone bought something, and we also made a donation of $200.

 

Spinning silk thread

Spinning silk thread

 

Fine silks for sale

Fine silks for sale

 

Day 4 – May 30th

Our route today took us over the Sekong and Mekong Rivers and through mostly forest country to Preah Vihear Province. We arrived at the ferry crossing by 8 am and waited for the barge to return from the other side. When it arrived, a bloke rode his motorbike off the ramp and straight over the side into the river. Luckily there were plenty of people to pull him and the bike out of the water.

 

He went straight into the river

He went straight into the river

 

The road had improved a lot since last year, a fair bit of it was now bitumen. At about the halfway mark I found a roadside clearing and we stopped for morning tea but Sreyda couldn’t resist cooking some of the fresh beef she’d bought in Kratie. The boys reckoned her stir fried beef with pineapple was pretty good.

 

Da and Sakhorn cooking lunch

Da and Sakhorn cooking lunch

 

We arrived in Tbeng Meanchey (Preah Vihear City) early in the afternoon and checked into Vattanak Guesthouse. The boys spent the afternoon drinking beer and checking out the sights while I did some repairs to Phil’s bike. A bearing had collapsed in the rear wheel and Tim’s bike had lost a few bolts out of the footpeg assembly. It cost around $3 to buy new parts, a bit cheaper than for the bikes I used to own back in Australia.

 

Vattanak Guesthouse

Vattanak Guesthouse

 

We had a great meal that night, I think the Restaurant was called Phnom Tbeng Meanchey. They even had venison on the menu. It was so good we went back for breakfast next morning. Phil pointed out a dog restaurant he’d found the day before but I think I’d rather starve. Along the road next day we saw a poor dog with it’s legs and muzzle wired up on the back of a motorbike, it was on the way to the cooking pot I’d say.

 

We ate well

We ate well

 

Day 5 – May 31st

We only had to cover 85 km on good bitumen roads today, so we arrived in Sra Eim mid-morning and checked into Sok San Guesthouse. After arranging for our washing to be done we travelled to Prasat Preah Vihear ticket office in the van. I paid the entry fees and a four wheel drive pickup took us up the very steep road to the temple. It’s a spectacular drive, climbing about 500 metres in a very short distance. We spent a couple of hours exploring the ruins before heading back to our starting point for lunch. Sreyda was just starting out to bring it to us, she’d stayed behind at one of the small restaurants to help prepare meals for everyone.

 

Transport to Prasat Preah Vihear

Transport to Prasat Preah Vihear

 

Prasat Preah Vihear

Prasat Preah Vihear

 

Prasat Preah Vihear

Prasat Preah Vihear

 

Later in the afternoon a few of us found the old route up to the temple. Timber stairs have been built alongside the old steps, quite a feat in itself.  Tim and Warren climbed up to the 520th step but it was only about halfway to the top.

 

Ancient staircase

Ancient staircase

 

Stairs to the temple

Stairs to the temple

 

Day 6 – June 1st

It was only a short run of 85 km to Anlong Veng so we were there by mid-morning and checked into Sophea Guesthouse. We left the bikes there and drove to the Thai border to see Pol Pot‘s grave and the mountain retreat of Ta Mok, the former Khmer Rouge military leader. I find it quite ironic that a huge casino is being built overlooking the grave of the man whose regime abolished money. After a great lunch at a small restaurant near Ta Mok’s house, several cars arrived full of Korean film makers. I don’t know what they were up to but it kept us entertained for a while guessing the gender of some of them….

 

Pol Pot's grave

Pol Pot’s grave

 

Ta Mok's mountain retreat

Ta Mok’s mountain retreat

 

Looking down on Anlong Veng

Looking down on Anlong Veng

 

High above Cambodia

High above Cambodia

 

Fantastic lunch!

Fantastic lunch!

 

On our return to Anlong Veng we visited the former Khmer Rouge stronghold just out of town. The view across the lake towards the Damrek Mountains is quite beautiful, the new casino can be seen at the summit . There’s an odd collection of buildings here, one was used as a guesthouse for visitors, one was a sort of meeting hall and Ta Mok had a house here as well. Underneath his house is what appears to be an air raid shelter. A few Cambodian soldiers were camped in some of the buildings at the time so we didn’t disturb them too much. There’s an old truck mounted radio station rusting away in the yard and a couple of cages which at one time held tigers from what I’ve read.

 

Air raid shelter

Air raid shelter

 

Air raid shelter

Air raid shelter

 

Khmer Rouge radio station

Khmer Rouge radio station

 

Day 7 – June 2nd

This was our last day on the bikes. We left Anlong Veng around 8:30 am bound for Kbal Spean (translation – bridge head) or River of 1000 Lingas where Mr Lucky would be waiting for us with our entry tickets. An entry ticket is required and normally you can only buy them in person from the Angkor Wat ticket office 60 km further on but Mr Lucky had found a way around this. He was there waiting for us when we arrived so after paying for the tickets we started on the 1.5 km uphill track to the carvings. The gradient is fairly gentle most of the way, suggesting that it was once used as a road. Most of the stone for the temples around Angkor Wat was quarried in this area and transported there by elephant or barge. At the bridge head a guide made himself available to explain the meanings of the numerous rock carvings, many of which are in the riverbed itself. They are of Hindu origin, representing different gods and goddesses. It is a magical place, with a refreshing waterfall to cool off under in the heat of the day. After walking back to the carpark, Sreyda arranged lunch for us at the Flying Coconut Restaurant.

 

Carved lingas

Carved lingas

 

Rock carvings

Rock carvings

 

Cool waterfall

Cool waterfall

 

Chicken with ginger for lunch

Chicken with ginger for lunch

 

After lunch we rode another 20 km to the Landmine Museum run by Cambodian Self-Help Demining (CSHD) where we were met by Bill Morse. Paleriders – Cambodia supports CSHD through our donations to Vietnam Veterans Mine Clearing Team – Cambodia (VVMCT). Bill treated us to an in-depth tour of the museum and attached orphanage which is generally off limits to the public. The kids here are well looked after, even after they leave school they have the opportunity to go to university if they want to. We made a donation of $200 to Bill to help with the operating costs of the orphanage.

 

Landmine museum

Landmine museum

 

Landmine museum

Landmine museum

 

We continued on to Siem Reap, to the New Riverside Hotel and that was the end of our riding. Tomorrow the bikes would be loaded into the van and sent back to Baray. That night, we went to a Khmer BBQ restaurant and enjoyed a smorgasbord of seafood, beef, chicken and pork.

 

New Riverside Hotel

New Riverside Hotel

 

Khmer BBQ

Khmer BBQ

 

Day 8 – June 3rd

Last day of the tour and it was time to send the bikes back to Baray. Sokhorn reckoned he could fit the 5 Daelims in his van but I had my doubts about that. However, he did it easily and fitted everything else in. It amazes me what they can fit in a vehicle.

 

Phil saying goodbye to his Daelim

Phil saying goodbye to his Daelim

 

Loaded up

Loaded up

 

Loaded up

Loaded up

 

Afterwards we spent the morning at Angkor Wat. Mr Lucky had arranged two tuk tuks for us so we headed out after the van was loaded up. We spent a couple of hours at Angkor Wat itself, and I engaged a very good guide. He showed us a lot of areas where the stonework had been cleaned with an acid solution. It is hard to understand how that could have happened, it seems almost a deliberate act of destruction. It is just another chapter in the long history of Angkor Wat though, it is so immense and well constructed that it will always survive.

 

Columns damaged by acid

Columns damaged by acid

 

Angkor Wat

Main causeway to Angkor Wat

 

Angkor Wat

Upper level at Angkor Wat

 

Angkor Wat

Wazza at main gate to Angkor Watnnn

 

Next we went to Ta Prohm which has been undergoing restoration since I first saw it in 2009. It featured in the movie “Tomb Raider” but it always makes me think of the Indiana Jones movies.

 

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

 

Ta Prohm

Phil and Wazza at Ta Prohm

 

That night we dined at the Temple Club and afterwards checked out the Apsara dancers upstairs.

 

Dinner at the Temple Club

Dinner at the Temple Club

 

Apsara dancer at the Temple Club

Apsara dancer at the Temple Club

 

We finished off the night having our feet nibbled by doctor fish in Pub Street. An unusual but not unpleasant sensation.

 

Doctor fish massage

Doctor fish massage

 

Next morning everyone went their own way. It was a fantastic trip, good people all wanting to experience a little bit of the real Cambodia and I think everyone did.

 

Da and I on the way home

Da and I on the way home

Summary

Distance covered – 785 km

No injuries

One flat tyre

One chain and sprockets replaced

One set of wheel bearings replaced

One bike ran out of fuel

Donations (10% of total amount received) – $600 + an extra $100 to Sunrise Children’s Village in Siem Reap

 

 

 

Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

www.paleriders.com.au

Tel: +855 887612857

Email: owen@paleriders.com.au

Address: National Road 6, Samrong Village, Baray District, Kampong Thom Province, Kingdom of Cambodia.

Copyright © Paleriders – Cambodia. All rights reserved.

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School at Samroeng Village Pagoda – update

Support for this project has been outstanding, from members of the community and from friends of Paleriders – Cambodia. The school is now completed. Extra money donated for the desks was used to lay the concrete apron around the building.

Thanks so much to the friends of Paleriders – Cambodia who generously contributed to the project.

 

Samroeng Pagoda School

Samroeng Pagoda School

 

Samroeng Pagoda School

Samroeng Pagoda School

 

Samroeng Pagoda School

Samroeng Pagoda School

 

Samroeng Pagoda School

Some of the donors

 

Writing names of donors on the wall

Writing names of donors on the wall

 

Samroeng Pagoda School

Desks arrive

 

Putting the desks together

Putting the desks together

 

Samroeng Pagoda School

Writing the donor’s names on the desks

 

Desks provided by friends of Paleriders - Cambodia

Desks provided by friends of Paleriders – Cambodia

 

Donated by Amount Purchased Date
Colin & Adam Turnbull $500.00 10000 bricks 08/01/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia $188.00 2 tonnes cement 08/01/2013
Mark Cesnik $100.00 1 tonne cement 15/02/2013
Jo Pearce $50.00 .5 tonne cement 15/02/2013
Robert Longley $500.00 roof 25/02/2013
Cliff & Marj Herod $150.00 desks 28/02/2013
John and Lola Holcombe $70.00 desks 28/02/2013
Dean Pages & Jum $100.00 desks 05/03/2013
Graeme & Delvene Read $70.00 desks 11/03/2013
Kiri Blanch $35.00 desk 11/03/2013
Gavin & Karen Foot $105.00 desks 12/03/2013
Edna & Tony $105.00 desks 16/03/2013
Paleriders – Cambodia $200.00 desks 10/03/2013
Cory Anderson $100.00 1 tonne cement 22/03/2013
Peter and Kirschty Birt $100.00 1 tonne cement 12/03/2013
Lydia Birt $35.00 cement/sand 14/03/2013
Marcus Borg $35.00 cement/sand 14/03/2013
Bobbie Jo Busiko $65.00 desks 16/03/2013
Heather Harmer $35.00 cement/sand 27/03/2013
Colin Turnbull $100.00 1 tonne cement 14/04/2013
Mark Cesnik $50.00 cement/sand 12/04/2013
TOTAL $2,693.00

 

Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

www.paleriders.com.au

Tel: +855 887612857

Email: owen@paleriders.com.au

Address: National Road 6, Samrong Village, Baray District, Kampong Thom Province, Kingdom of Cambodia.

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School at Samroeng Village Pagoda

For some time Paleriders – Cambodia has been supporting our local village pagoda with their building fund. The pagoda is a work in progress, as money comes in a bit more work gets completed. Recently though, work started on a schoolroom and we decided to get involved in the project.

Originally there was a big, old wooden dormitory building for the monks but it had become termite infested so it was demolished. The timber was sorted through, anything still good was put aside and is being used to build a smaller dormitory. Work has also commenced on a brick and concrete schoolroom. A generous donor from Australia has contributed $500 which paid for 10000 clay bricks, and Paleriders – Cambodia donated two tonnes of cement.

The school will be used to teach small kids, novice monks and also for English lessons for High School kids.

Some of the 10000 bricks

 

Two tonnes of cement

 

Building new school

 

Building new school

 

Building new school

Building new school

 

Remains of old dorm building

Remains of old dorm building

 

New dorm building

New dorm building

 

On my recent trip back to Baray I found that good progress has been made at the school since I last saw it in January. Some people I work with in Laos had given me money to buy another 1.5 tonnes of cement for the project. Next thing needed are desks, about 20 of them. I’ll go to Kampong Cham next time I’m there and buy them.

 

$150 for 1.5 tonnes of cement.

 

1.5 tonnes of cement

 

School building

 

 

 

Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

www.paleriders.com.au

Tel: +856 20 22230787

Email: owen@paleriders.com.au

Address: National Road 6, Samrong Village, Baray District, Kampong Thom Province, Kingdom of Cambodia.

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Latest update on Paleriders School

On my last trip to Baray, in January, I was able to have a toilet built at the school at Chuuk Ksach Pagoda. Two generous donors, one in Laos and one in Australia, had given me $400 to put towards the project. On my next trip home I’ll get a well put in, and buy some swings for the kids. The same donor in Laos and another one in Australia have put in more money for that.

Most of us take toilets for granted, but the truth is that most of the kids who go to this school don’t have a toilet to use at home. Unreal as it may seem, there more likelihood of a rural Cambodian having a mobile phone than a toilet. To the kids this humble little outhouse means a great deal. I’m looking forward to getting the swings for them.

Building materials

Building toilet block

Building toilet block

Toilet block

Paleriders School

Paleriders School

Receipt for materials

Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

www.paleriders.com.au

Tel: +855 887612857

Email: owen@paleriders.com.au

Address: National Road 6, Samrong Village, Baray District, Kampong Thom Province, Kingdom of Cambodia.

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Paleriders School is now open!

Finally the Paleriders School is finished. We had a small opening ceremony on December 5, attended by children, parents and village elders. Monks came and blessed the school, then everyone shared a meal of Khmer noodles and fish.  Next part of this project is to construct a toilet block, we will start on that in January.

Thanks to all the generous supporters who made this school possible.

20121204_102105

Preparations for the Paleriders School opening day

20121205_072647 (Large)

Kids learning traditional songs

20121205_080731 (Large)

Monks blessing the school

20121205_080737 (Large)

Sreyda at the blessing ceremony

20121205_090215 (Large)

Sharing a meal at the school opening day

20121205_090413 (Large)

Sharing a meal at the school opening day

20121205_090803 (Large)

Putting up the plaque with names of donors

Mr Eap with Khut Tom, the village chief.

Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

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Paleriders School Update

It has been quite a mission getting a small school built in a village close to where I live in Cambodia. I was approached by the people who built my house back in June 2011, and asked if I could help them get money to build a school. I went and had a look at the site they had in mind, which was in the grounds of their village pagoda. Then we went to the nearest government school, probably not more than 1 kilometre away but in the wet season the road becomes submerged by up to a metre of water so the kids stay at home. This was not an unreasonable request I thought, and I said I’d put in some money and ask around my friends in Australia if they’d like to help. I made the point that they would need to do the all the work, as volunteers and they readily agreed.. Their initial request was for $2000 and I had that amount by August 2011 so they made a start. It soon proved not to be enough however, so I approached a very generous businessman in Perth, Western Australia who had already contributed and asked if he’d help out with some more money. He was only too happy to help, so work began again. However, requests for more money became more frequent and I wasn’t seeing the results I expected for the outlay. When I last went back to my village in September 2012 things were at a standstill and I’d had enough. The floor still hadn’t been done, the internal rendering wasn’t finished, windows were missing and it hadn’t been painted. I purchased enough sand and cement to finish the floor and asked my brothers-in-law to come and work for me. Two of them brought their girlfriends as well. We spent 4 days cementing, rendering, painting and fitting windows and finished it off. I went to Kampong Cham, about 80 km away, and bought 12 timber desks (each for 2 children), a teachers table and chair, and a whiteboard. So for a total outlay of $4700 this little school has been built and furnished. Even though I know some of the money has been “diverted” by the man I trusted to manage the project in my absence, it is still a good result. I hear that they’ve found a teacher, and the school is up and running. I can’t wait to go back and see for myself, and I’ll put in some money for a little celebration.

Paleriders School

One of the kids who will go to this school

Paleriders – Cambodia supports education opportunities for kids

Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

 

 

 

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Paleriders – Cambodia donates to Samroeng Pagoda, Baray

In Cambodia, the pagoda is a reflection of the wealth of the village. My village is poor, so the pagoda is still under construction. As the monks receive donations from the community they get a bit more work done. The pagoda still doesn’t have a roof, so Paleriders will donate $500 towards buying tiles. Recently, on behalf of Paleriders, my mother-in-law Un Ve presented Pov Pisey from the pagoda with the first $250.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

Categories: Paleriders Blog | Comments Off on Paleriders – Cambodia donates to Samroeng Pagoda, Baray
 
 

We Shared the Peeled Orange by Dr. Louis Braile

Not long ago I read a fantastic book about a doctor from the US who volunteered for many years in the refugee camps along the Thai – Cambodian border. Most people assume that life went back to normal after the Khmer Rouge government was ousted by Vietnam in 1979, but it didn’t. Many people fled to the border camps, and many were held captive by the KR in the mountains and jungles of western Cambodia. In fact, there are still refugee camps on the Thai border with Myanmar.

The book can be bought here and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the American Refugee Committee International (ARC).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Responsible Tourism in Cambodia

 

 

 

Categories: Paleriders Blog |