103.5 km, average 18.4km/hr, max 34.2km/hr, time on bikes: 5hr 36 mins
Tour total: 2,391 km
After three months on the road, it’s our last proper day of cycle touring! So sad, but so true. Best get on with it then, egh?
It’s also promises to be a long day – it’s at least 100km to Siem Reap – and it’s hotter here than anything we’ve so far experienced.
We’re up earlyish and, after a (final?) noodle soup breakfast (definitely not as good here as in Laos or Vietnam, sorry Cambodia!), we’re on the road just after 8am. The road surface is great and traffic is pretty light – mostly minivans ferrying tourists across the border from Thailand to Siem Reap, making amusing farty noises as they speed past us over the rumble strips.
We cruise the first 30km at well over 20km/hr, and don’t stop at all until 35km. Cloudy skies produce a few rain drops but nothing more (how have we managed to get away with three months cycling and not being rained on once?!) and the sun doesn’t really get to work until about 10.30am, at which point The Beatles’ Here Comes the Sun is played, obviously. It’s mostly pancake flat but there are a couple of small hills along the way, giving us a bit of downhill fun and a short break from the general flatness of it all.
The Band Game help us through the next 10km and pretty soon we’ve hit the 50km mark. I lose after STUPIDLY playing ‘”Echobelly” twice, and this is after I let Rach have “Your Mum” which, if it isn’t a band name it really should be, she argues, forcibly.
Then it’s time for the first of three sugar cane juice stops. While we’re deliriously crunching the ice in our teeth, the ice man pulls up for a delivery. He slides these huge blocks out of the lorry and deposits them in a shaded spot, and then covers each slab in sawdust. Er, hygienic! Ah well, we’ve been (mostly) OK so far, presumably they hose them down again before use, or something.
We have a mediocre, inadequate lunch of squashed baguettes, laughing cow and crisps, in some shade by the roadside at about 58km, and then, with nothing better to do, proceed into the heat of the day. The next 20km are pretty punishing; it’s too hot, our suncream is useless, and, unexpectedly at about 72km, roadworks appear out nowhere and the next 3-4km are on dirt, battling a lot of dust. Luckily, it’s only temporary, and the perfect road surface returns almost immediately. Baffling Cambodge!
From there on in, we’re counting down the km’s until we finally arrive, tired, red and salty-skinned, into Siem Reap at about 4pm. The place looks like fun, but our first priority is to find our pre-booked accommodation, Angkor Wonder (every place has Angkor in the name!) and shower. Here, $8 buys a comfy bed, cold water shower and OK wifi.
We celebrate the official end of tour with a TWO course meal (yeah, look impressed!) at a lovely veggie place called The Peace Cafe, and then round off the evening with a couple of drinks at Beatnik cafe, which plays James followed by Rammstein. Totally beatnik, maaan. Rachel is even permitted a glass of wine for the occassion.
So, it feels kinda weird to have reached the end of our first cycle tour. We did it! 2,391km (including day trips), with no accidents, incidents or even punctures. Seems pretty incredible that two complete novices managed it with so few problems. Maybe there’s a lesson in here somewhere… if we can do it then, seriously, anyone can do it too!
I guess the question now is, what next? Back to life, back to reality? What if this is only the beginning, and not the end? Imagine being one of those guys who’s been on the road for, like, three years! So many questions, so few answers…
It’s not quite the end though; the majesty and mystery of Angkor Wat still awaits, before we bus back to Bangkok and then fly home, calling in on Beijing for a couple of days along the way.
It’s not quite the end for the blog either; we’ll add some more posts about what we learnt along the way, what was useful and what wasn’t, vital statistics, packing advice and perhaps a summary of the trip as a whole. And hopefully there’ll be more bicyclating adventures to be had in the not to distant future… 🙂
Thanks for reading, and shout if you have any questions or want any advice on cycling in this part of the world!