68.5km, av. 19.3km/hr, max 25.6 km/hr, time on bikes: 3hr 32 mins
It’s our penultimate day on the road, but it’s perhaps one of the least memorable. We expected it to be hot, flat, busy and a bit dreary, and so it proved. A day to just grind out a result, as it were. It’s no coincide that today we record our best ever average speed, a heady 19.3km/hr!
We get off to a relatively early start (10am!) after a brilliant breakfast at Woodhouse – seriously, they do the most filling, tastiest banana pancakes in all of Cambodia. Then we’re on the road… the same road… all day….
The first 25 km or so on Highway 5, to a place called Kouk Kdouch, are among the hairiest we’ve experienced. The road is relatively narrow but the traffic quite fast moving; a couple of buses and lorries pass by us uncomfortably close. Fortunately, at the Kouk Kdouch junction, much of the heavy traffic heads west and the rest of the journey is less busy, and on a slightly wider road with more hard shoulder. The road surface is good with, wait for it, no roadworks all day!!
We lunch on noodle soup as usual, along with our first ever taste of soursop juice (very refreshing over ice!), and are sustained by at least one sugar cane juice stop. There are far fewer places to stop compared to most other roads we’ve been on in Cambodia, and when we do come across a town, it seems ghostly quiet. This, we realise, is because everyone’s at a wedding.
It’s Saturday, or ‘Weddingday’ as it’s known locally; there’s at least one wedding taking place in pretty much every town we pass through. Sometimes there are multiple weddings and they’re having a sort of wedding-off battle, based on who can play the most crackly, incomprehensible music out of a knackered PA system at the loudest volume. By cycling past different stages of the ceremonies at different times of the day we reckon we can put them all together in our heads and experience a whole wedding!
Other than weddings, the most exciting thing that happens is that we spot TWO signs warning of hills, but then there aren’t really any hills at all! That’s crazy Cambodge for ya. So, no real highlights to write home about but job done.
We roll into Sisophon (known locally as Banteay Meanchey) around 3pm and take a no frills, no windows room at Taing Chivorn guesthouse (on Highway 6 heading towards Siem Reap) for $6, then chill (or rather, sweat) until food time. There’s a big place a few doors down with an English menu so we eat well there, then it’s early night ahead of the final day’s ride, into Siem Reap.