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Old 12-08-2010, 10:31 PM   #1
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Cambodia: "Death Highway" re-visited (this time in the dry season)

The decision to flee came suddenly, right about the time my girlfriend lunged for a knife and came at me waving that damn thing. I got the knife wrist, pinned her to the couch and, as she wrapped the fingers of her free hand around the blade and began to squeeze, shouted for help from my friends who were outside on the jetty.

Miss Trouble: [PHP] snipped

After I dragged her outside and put her on the back of a moto taxi I went inside and cooked a barbeque, fished and got loaded with my friends as we tried to make sense of what had just happened and denounce womenfolk and their stabby ways. About 10pm I announced I was getting the hell out of town for seven days.






It was a festival weekend in Cambodia. Pchum Ben is the feast of the ancestors and during this weekend it i thought that the dead wander the earth and so people leave out food to satisfy the hungry ghosts over the fifteen days of the festival which culminates on the 15th day of October every year. I felt it would be a good time to head for the "Death Highway" - a kind of elephant path through the jungle from Sen Monorom in Mondulkiri in Cambodia's south east to Ban Lung, Rattankiri in the north east

The city was empty, and we went out later, drank whiskey and I woke up in a $5 hotel room the next day with a terrible head and a sense of discombobulation. The only two things I had learned about this trip were "Do not try it in October" and "Your bike cannot do a trip like that"

I went home, packed very lightly: A book, jeans, three t-shirts, one shorts, trainers, iodine and bandages, air cured plant matter and long rolling papers. I gave the AX-1 the once over and took it down my local bike guy's shop for a new rear wheel bearing, bought a good map, suited up and left town in the direction of Kampong Cham. . . .




Poor thing. It has no idea what's coming.

Jacl-Kampuchea screwed with this post 04-04-2011 at 05:14 AM
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Old 12-08-2010, 11:08 PM   #2
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So I beat out of town, over the Japanese Bridge across the Tonle Bassac River, and immediately hit the worst traffic I have ever seen in my life. Phnom Penh is a city of country people and some 70% of the population had headed for their respective provinces for the festival.

Now picture a two lane road with an infinite number of minivans loaded to the gills with people inside, on top, hanging from the back - with 90% of their earthly possesions hung with ropes and bungee lines from the back with the rear doors open travelling at about 50mph with a few feet braking distance between each one.

Picture this, and then factor in millions of 50 -125cc mopeds driving at 30mph on the edge of the road, some cyclists, some pedestrians and the occasional buffalo, dog or chicken wandering across the road.

Then factor in huge SUV's straddling both lanes, leaning on the horn and travelling at 70+mph and not using their brakes at all, plus the occasional coach behaving in a similar fashion.

The first hour was nightmarish, but eventually the traffic began to spread out a little and I was able to open up the bike and begin to make some headway - until the afternoon rain came down, HARD, so I stopped and took shelter in a small wooden put near a pagoda because I had left my jacket at home and my Armour is mesh moto-X stuff.

Man, did it rain. I was under there for an hour and a half of full on monsoon weather before it eased off enough to carry on. The road was flooded in places and every time I came up behind another car my goggles got so dirty I had to really strain to see, so progress was slow.

I had left P.P at 1.30pm and had hoped to make it to Sen Monorom that day, but a combination of my hangover, the traffic and the weather made me stop and get a room in Kampong Cham town.

The hotel was strange. It was like some kind of palatial mansion with huge amounts of hardwood used on the grand staircases, tons of marble everywhere and a generally expensive aura about it - yet I seemed to be the only guest in their 200 rooms. In fact, there was no sign that there had ever been a guest there before me and it was only $10 - so I went and hung my pants and mesh up to dry, showered, had a nap and went to find some food in town after darkness fell.

It was still raining and many of the streets were flooded, so I didn't explore too much and had dinner in a small haan bai (rice house). Basic meal - huge bowl of rice, some tough strips of heated up cured pork with hot sauce and three beers, before going back to my hotel, smoking and sleeping early.

My girlfriend called me to apologise at some point during the night and also to explain that she had really been trying to stab herself with the knife and was not going to hurt me with it. She asks me to come back to Phnom Penh. I demur and go back to sleep, happy that another 50km will have me outside my mobile network's coverage area for the next six or seven days.

My Approximate route:

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Old 12-09-2010, 12:23 AM   #3
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The next morning I wake early and go to the town to withdraw money as I have no solid evidence of cashpoints where I am going. There is one bank, Aceleda, that is in even the most remote cambodian villages - but they don't accept my card( this bit is important a few days later).

I explore more in daylight and find a nice little bar/resturant called "Mekong Crossing" right beside Cambodia's first bridge over the mekong. I have a great omelet and visit the market to buy a waterproof poncho.


I went back to the hotel, packed up and geared up and headed over the bridge above and off in the direction of Snoul - a town famous for Tarantula's and for being a shithole.

I make a cursory check of my map before I leave and reckon I have the directions in my head pretty well down, so when I see a right turn after half an hour or so I take it and find myself at the Vietnamese border. Hmm. I stop because more heavy rain is falling and have a coffee and some crisps at a little roadside shack. My armour and helmet attract a lot of interest from people young and old and I do my best in my limited Khmer to explain my route to them. The think I am "skoat,skoat, lop-lop" which roughly translates to "crazy fool"

As I put on my freshly purchased rain poncho and wave goodbye I reckon they might not be far off the mark. I consult the map and see that I should have stayed on the same road all the way to snoul, so I blast quickly up the way I came and onto the right path once again. The road is good and pretty quiet and I pass through some rubber plantations and rice fields and the occasional small village. Lots of little kids coming out to wave when they hear the bike coming. It seems every twenty minutes I drive into a raincloud and get wet for a short time before driving out the other side into warmer weather.

*A note on waterproof ponchos - they disintegrate at about 120km/ph. I kept having to stop and buy another until I said "to hell with it" and just took the rain.

An hour later I rolled into snoul, filled up the bike which was giving pretty bad mileage - only 160km to a tank of nearly 10L, stopped for a cigarette and a coconut to re-hydrate and talked for a few minutes with the man and his wide who ran the little stand I bought the gas from, before pushing onward.

(another stock shot, i really don't like digging in my bag for a camera)

The next morning I wake early and go to the town to withdraw money as I have no solid evidence of cashpoints where I am going. There is one bank, Aceleda, that is in even the most remote cambodian villages - but they don't accept my card( this bit is important a few days later).

I explore more in daylight and find a nice little bar/resturant called "Mekong Crossing" right beside Cambodia's first bridge over the mekong. I have a great omelet and visit the market to buy a waterproof poncho.

(stock photo, I didn't take one myself)

I went back to the hotel, packed up and geared up and headed over the bridge above and off in the direction of Snoul - a town famous for Tarantula's and for being a shithole.

I make a cursory check of my map before I leave and reckon I have the directions in my head pretty well down, so when I see a right turn after half an hour or so I take it and find myself at the Vietnamese border. Hmm. I stop because more heavy rain is falling and have a coffee and some crisps at a little roadside shack. My armour and helmet attract a lot of interest from people young and old and I do my best in my limited Khmer to explain my route to them. The think I am "skoat,skoat, lop-lop" which roughly translates to "crazy fool"

As I put on my freshly purchased rain poncho and wave goodbye I reckon they might not be far off the mark. I consult the map and see that I should have stayed on the same road all the way to snoul, so I blast quickly up the way I came and onto the right path once again. The road is good and pretty quiet and I pass through some rubber plantations and rice fields and the occasional small village. Lots of little kids coming out to wave when they hear the bike coming. It seems every twenty minutes I drive into a raincloud and get wet for a short time before driving out the other side into warmer weather.

*A note on waterproof ponchos - they disintegrate at about 120km/ph. I kept having to stop and buy another until I said "to hell with it" and just took the rain.

An hour later I rolled into snoul, filled up the bike which was giving pretty bad mileage - only 160km to a tank of nearly 10L, stopped for a cigarette and a coconut to re-hydrate and talked for a few minutes with the man and his wide who ran the little stand I bought the gas from, before pushing onward.

The next morning I wake early and go to the town to withdraw money as I have no solid evidence of cashpoints where I am going. There is one bank, Aceleda, that is in even the most remote cambodian villages - but they don't accept my card( this bit is important a few days later).

I explore more in daylight and find a nice little bar/resturant called "Mekong Crossing" right beside Cambodia's first bridge over the mekong. I have a great omelet and visit the market to buy a waterproof poncho.


I went back to the hotel, packed up and geared up and headed over the bridge above and off in the direction of Snoul - a town famous for Tarantula's and for being a shithole.

I make a cursory check of my map before I leave and reckon I have the directions in my head pretty well down, so when I see a right turn after half an hour or so I take it and find myself at the Vietnamese border. Hmm. I stop because more heavy rain is falling and have a coffee and some crisps at a little roadside shack. My armour and helmet attract a lot of interest from people young and old and I do my best in my limited Khmer to explain my route to them. The think I am "skoat,skoat, lop-lop" which roughly translates to "crazy fool"

As I put on my freshly purchased rain poncho and wave goodbye I reckon they might not be far off the mark. I consult the map and see that I should have stayed on the same road all the way to snoul, so I blast quickly up the way I came and onto the right path once again. The road is good and pretty quiet and I pass through some rubber plantations and rice fields and the occasional small village. Lots of little kids coming out to wave when they hear the bike coming. It seems every twenty minutes I drive into a raincloud and get wet for a short time before driving out the other side into warmer weather.

*A note on waterproof ponchos - they disintegrate at about 120km/ph. I kept having to stop and buy another until I said "to hell with it" and just took the rain.

An hour later I rolled into snoul, filled up the bike which was giving pretty bad mileage - only 160km to a tank of nearly 10L, stopped for a cigarette and a coconut to re-hydrate and talked for a few minutes with the man and his wide who ran the little stand I bought the gas from, before pushing onward.



The next morning I wake early and go to the town to withdraw money as I have no solid evidence of cashpoints where I am going. There is one bank, Aceleda, that is in even the most remote cambodian villages - but they don't accept my card( this bit is important a few days later).

I explore more in daylight and find a nice little bar/resturant called "Mekong Crossing" right beside Cambodia's first bridge over the mekong. I have a great omelet and visit the market to buy a waterproof poncho.


I went back to the hotel, packed up and geared up and headed over the bridge above and off in the direction of Snoul - a town famous for Tarantula's and for being a shithole.

I make a cursory check of my map before I leave and reckon I have the directions in my head pretty well down, so when I see a right turn after half an hour or so I take it and find myself at the Vietnamese border. Hmm. I stop because more heavy rain is falling and have a coffee and some crisps at a little roadside shack. My armour and helmet attract a lot of interest from people young and old and I do my best in my limited Khmer to explain my route to them. The think I am "skoat,skoat, lop-lop" which roughly translates to "crazy fool"

As I put on my freshly purchased rain poncho and wave goodbye I reckon they might not be far off the mark. I consult the map and see that I should have stayed on the same road all the way to snoul, so I blast quickly up the way I came and onto the right path once again. The road is good and pretty quiet and I pass through some rubber plantations and rice fields and the occasional small village. Lots of little kids coming out to wave when they hear the bike coming. It seems every twenty minutes I drive into a raincloud and get wet for a short time before driving out the other side into warmer weather.

*A note on waterproof ponchos - they disintegrate at about 120km/ph. I kept having to stop and buy another until I said "to hell with it" and just took the rain.

An hour later I rolled into snoul, filled up the bike which was giving pretty bad mileage - only 160km to a tank of nearly 10L, stopped for a cigarette and a coconut to re-hydrate and talked for a few minutes with the man and his wide who ran the little stand I bought the gas from, before pushing onward.



^another stock photo, don't like digging for the camera much.

Jacl-Kampuchea screwed with this post 12-09-2010 at 12:34 AM
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Old 12-09-2010, 12:37 AM   #4
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Old 12-29-2010, 05:20 AM   #5
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I left Snoul and pushed on for Sen Monorom. Empty and brand new asphalt rose up to meet me as I drove. The road was immaculate and began to wind it's way slowly up into the highlands of Mondulkiri.

This was the best road I have driven in Cambodia. It was new, lined, proprly banked and cambered and had very little traffic. This disappointed me a little - because I had heard that this was a real challenge of a trip as recently as one year ago - but I soon put the disappointment behind me and began to enjoy the long winding road as it climbed mountains and swept down into valleys of almost pristine semi-evergreen forest.

On some curves the road was so new that the loose gravel was banked in the corners. That, coupled with the occasional rockfall and animal crossing meant that there was no danger of me losing concentration. The AX kept up a good average speed of 130kmph and before I knew it I had climbed into a little town where I stopped at the market for a meal of steamed rice and some cured pork.

My armour generated a lot of interest from the locals present and the girl running the stall had a small amount of english to complement my limited grasp of the Khmer language. She told me that I had about 70km to travel to Sen Monorom, so I took off in order to try and make my day's destination before the afternoon rains kicked in.

I am possibly the world's worst person to own a camera, as I forget the damn thing on about half my trips and on the rest I am generally not even thinking about the thing, so take a seriously small amount of pictures, sorry people. I guess that's my way of saying that I did not take any photos between snoul and sen monorom

I blasted on up the road at the speed of light (or 130km), occasionally stopping to look out the vast expanse of forest laid out below me in the valleys and then getting back on and getting the bike up as far as 160km/ph on the big down-mountain bits. I had been counting off 70km on my odometer and at about 45km the rain closed in (or rather I drove up-mountain into it). I pushed on for another 5km and the rain got worse and worde. Just when I was about to stop and seek shelter I came to the outskirts of a town and rolled 5k's into it before stopping at the first cafe I saw. I asked how many kilometres to sen mororom (Sen Monorom - Bpon maan killou?) to be looked at like a fool told I was already in sen monorom
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:04 AM   #6
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I settled down in the cafe for a victory beer and began to look around me. One of the first things I noticed was a handpainted sign outside the cafe saying "Mondulkiri Extreme by Mony Hong" with a telephone number attached. Unfortunately the wood had begin to swell and split and the number was illegible, so I asked the ladies who owned the cafe about Mony.

The reply came that he would be there in twn of fifteen minutes so I had another beer and after a while Mony materialised. He sat down and chatted to me about my trip so far and I told him I wanted to take the jungle path to Ban Lung, Rattantikiri. This elicted a funny look at my bike and at me, followed by mony pointing out that the road was probably impassable and that I would be better off on a Baja or a DR250 rather than on my heavy and thirsty bike with rather smooth tires.

I told him that I wanted to do it anyhow, and he said that a lot would depend on how much it rained over the next day. He showed me many pictures of his jungle trips and spoke about his business. Interesting man - he has been doing jungle treks, rides and mounted trips for a decade. Prior to this he was a Soldier, a Goldsmith and a Nurse. He showed me puctures of his most recent trip, one month earlier in which an australian man seemed to spend a lot of time completely stuck on an xr250, before breaking his bikes clutch in the jungle and having to be carried 2-up on the back of Mony's 125cc Honda Wave to the nearest village. I began having doubts about this route for the first time. My thinking was "that guy couldn't make it a month ago, when it was way drier than now, how can I take an AX-1 up there with the wrong tire thread and tubeless tyres?"

Mony then re-assured me that he could take care off everything and showed me pictures of him guiding Gordon Fucking Ramsey into the woods and spoke about possible detours if the river was too high to go the straight line. I told him I would meet him in the morning to see how the weather was shaping up and went off to a place called Bananas - run by a nice Dutch lady just outside of town, for dinner.

I found the aptly named resturant down a jungle path that was sluck with clay and fallen Banana leaves from the large banana orchard surrounding the place. I has just enough room to squeeze the bike between the banana trees on the way down to be greeted with "I can't believe you got down here on that"

I had a nice meal and lots of chat with the lady running the place, plus she has two great bulldogs. She told me tales of her 15 years in Cambodia and taught me how to deal with Cobra's invading one's house ( Chop lemons and throw them into the building, snakes leave) Then I said goodnight and tried to get back up the hill to the road.

Easier said than done. Slick red clay, wet leaves and tree roots left me without traction. I got up most of the way O.K, but there was one bit where I had to slow to a near stop and thread the bars through two Banana trees particularly close to either side of the path. Once I lost momentum, the back wheel began to spin on the clay just below a fat tree root. I couldn't take a run at it as the trees were too damn close. One, two, three, four attempts. Drop the bike, swear, pick it up, gun it, pop the clutch. . . through

Hotel, spliff for my aching hip and a good night of sleep in a cheap hotel.
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:21 AM   #7
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Old 12-29-2010, 08:25 AM   #8
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The next morning I got up around 9am to a nice clear day and wandered down to the same cafe to eat a breakfast of bai chai saag kru (fried rice with pork) and a cafe tacor dtuc my boy (ice coffee with condensed milk) and waited for Mony to arrive, which he did by 10.

He explained that it was unlikely, given the rain of the night before, that we could follow the traditional route due north to ban lung - as the big river was probably too swollen too much. Google maps has this river named sre mar, but I seem to recall it as sre ambel? Either way, it's the river in the movie "Apocalypse Now"

He opined that the roads of red clay on the first leg would be passable if it was raining or not, but that the hours after it rains is when they are most dangerous. We decided that we would go as far as the river the next day and see if it was passable, and if not we would double back and take a lesser known remote track to the east of the traditional shortcut. I paid him in advance $50 so that he could go and get his bike looked after and make preparations and I went to my hotel to get the bike and spend a day around Sen Monorom exploring the waterfalls and going back over the road I traveled the day before to take some photo's.

Just about the time I reached the hotel the first raindrops began to fall. . .

I went to my room and, as my dainesse uppers and my pants were drying, I stuck on my boots, jeans, a t-shirt and some gloves and struck back out, but it was still absolutely pouring down, so I sheltered in the lobby for twenty minutes. After that it had not lightened off very much, but I figured I knew Cambodian weather well enough that it would either: A - Not be raining five minutes away or B - Stop abruptly.

Wrong on both counts. I bought a plastic rainmac from the market and began to drive to the edge of town to make my way to the closest waterfall. The rain was so hard that it was hurting my arms and eyes at just 50km/pm and I was soon largely soaked through.

There were flash floods everywhere and the roads I was driving on were just red clay with inches of water flowing over them. I came to the closest waterfall after twenty minutes. Took five minutes to park the bike as the ground was so saturated the kickstand kept sinking. I found half a Coconut and used that to support the foot of the kickstand and sat down in a little hut to wait the rain out.

Except it would not stop. After about ten minutes there a new toyota minivan with state plates, which I had overtaken on the way there, pulled in. The idiot driving it drive right into the softest part of the clay carpark and then it began to slide toward the river so I watched from my dry perch as three men attempted to free it. They didn't have mush luck, so after ten minutes I began to feel guilty for being idle and I went out and spent ten minutes helping them before we got it free.

Of course, I had forgotten my mac, so I was now soaked. The van people departed with a thank you and I took off my soaked boots' socks and t-shirt and sat back down in my dry spot. The rain eased a little after ten more minutes and I was able to get up and take a few photos.





Not really worth that much wetness eh?



my dry spot.
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Old 12-29-2010, 08:54 AM   #9
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After taking the shots above I went back to my shelter and put my t-shirt, boot's, gloves and helmet back on and headed back on up the road with the ambition of seeing another waterfall. Unfortunately it turned out to only have been atempoary lull in the rain as when I neared town it was coming even harder than before. I was soaked and shivering, so when I saw a signpost pointing north with "Natural reserve" on it I went that way as the clouds seemed lighter up there.

It was a red clay road again with maybe six inches of slop on the surface, huge rutted areas- and then I cam to a very long and very steep downhill section. Tough gradient & my front end was going all over the place so I was feeling quite naked without my gear and the cold was getting to me, so I turned back to town, stopping to buy some warm socks for the big ride the next day.

After a hot shower I fely better and went back down to Bananas for a bite followed by meeting up with Mony again. He reckoned that the rain may be localised, as it often is in Cambodia and that it may be better up North.

We didn't know it was the heaviest day's rain all over the country at the time . . .
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Old 12-29-2010, 09:23 AM   #10
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Old 12-31-2010, 04:17 AM   #11
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Good Looking Food!

I like the looks of all that good food. Interesting reading too. Thanks for the r/r......
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Old 01-25-2011, 05:21 AM   #12
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*I solemnly swear to finish this RR this week (because I have another to do)*

Real life keeps getting in my way though
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Old 01-25-2011, 05:54 AM   #13
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I awoke the next day at 6am. I had arranged to meet Mony after 30 minutes more, so I got down to packing. I had packed real light on this trip. Just a 15l Samsonite bag with a few bits and bobs, a map, a few wrenches, a screwdriver and a pliers. It was a real struggle to make it all fit back into the small bag. Took a long hot shower, rare luxury, as my house does not have a water heater. I had paid my bill the night before so I was able to just leave.

Mony was waiting impatiently for me. Turned out he had been up and about since 4am, getting his moped serviced and picking up a few litres of oil in case either of us needed an oil change after water crossings. I don't have much of an appetite in the early mornings, so I had an iced coffee and a cigarette for the constitution and we hit the dirt.

The day before, as I alluded to in my previous post, turned out to have been the single heaviest days rainfall all over the country for the wet season just past and the red clay was pretty treacherous. Where traffic had passed already that morning it was rutted and cut up and on the parts where nothing had driven it was unreadable. It all looked the same, but the font end could go missing quickly.

Mony was blasting along at close to 100kmph on his wave and I stuck a few hundred metres behind him and got a feel for the surface.

So early onto the dirt, the road was quite busy with trucks, 4 x 4's and Istana vans blasting fast in either direction along with mopeds , cows and two wheeled tractors that resembled iron horses hitched to older oxcart trailers.

There were a number of hairy long, sweeping downhill sections and on these I took the lead, going quite slowly down dragging on the back brake and trying to maintain some traction on the treacherous surface. There were plenty cars and vans stuck halfway up most of these bits, waiting for the road to dry up a bit or something bigger to come along and give them a two.

We covered almost 60km in the first hour and the pace picked up from then on as the road leveled out and dried up in the morning sun. At the same time we were entering proper jungle. The houses became more basic and shanty like and the people appeared poorer than the townies. Kids and adults looked on the 250 as though I was driving some kind of Dakar-ready machine, and thirty minutes later we pulled into the village where we would make our first stop to eat and refuel, before leaving any pretense at civilization behind for the rest of the day.
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Old 03-01-2011, 05:21 AM   #14
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That morning I had not eaten as Mony was anxious to get on the road & I am never a big eater when recently awakened, so I first topped up my small 10l tank with a few soda bottles of petrol, holding the bike upright and shaking it gently to fit every possible drop into her. I also bungeed an extra 4l in sprite bottles to the back.

I went to a local rice house/general store/bar/tv lounge/shed kind of place and had a bowl of rice and some re-re-re fried strips of what must once have been pork, along with some iced green tea. Mony ate faster than myself and scooted off up the road a few kilometres to see if the river was passable.

I forgot to buy water before he came back, but I had almost 1.5l on the bike so didn't think it would cause problems. . .

Mony arrived back about five minutes later with the news that the river was hugely swollen and impassable. This wasn't exactly surprising as the villagers had told us that nothing had come in the opposite direction for two days because of the heavy rain, so we turned back south for about five kilometres before turning east onto some nice double track for maybe 10k's.

There was a nice kind of weir/dam/ford construction at one point on this road where about 12 inches of water was flowing over a submerged concrete strip roughly 30m in length. There was also a family down there with Dad and the kids washing their moto's in the water while mom did the laundry. I kept up a nice 70km through it and cleaned a lot of accumulated stucky clay from the bike in the process.

After another ten or twenty k's the double track became single or no track at all, and the jungle around us grew denser, the ground softer and the water crossings more frequent. The air also became even more humid and the temperature, I estimate, had to have been above 38c.

While I am no couch potato, I am also no gym rat, and with the heat from the sun, the humidity, and the fan on my bike I was soon sweating A LOT and having trouble breathing at anything other than a fast pant in my helmet, caterpillar boots, football socks, Joe Rocket pants and two t-shirts beneath my mesh Dainesse mesh uppers. It became apparent that I had seriously miscalculated my water rations.

We drove for two hours, averaging maybe 30/35 kmph depending on the condition of the trail. Vehicle tracks were few and far between and Mony told me that not many people traveled this route as they usually take the straight line shortcut which was unavailable to us due to the height of the river.

We had a few pretty serious water crossings, involving water between one and two feet in depth with an uncertain amount of deep, slippy much at the bottom. Mony took the lead on most of these as he had an idea of the depth and I was able to then decide whether to follow his line of make my own.

He got some very good video shots on these - but unfortunately had a camera mishap since, so I have not seen any since the next day. It's probably for the best as some of them were pretty ungraceful due to driving on the high bit of a flooded area and being unable to touch bottom when dabbing off either side.

I had my first off around this time: I had hit a rare section of clay double track and was up to 70kmph when I saw what looked like a small puddle in my path. When I hit it my front wheel disappeared, I gassed it and she came up, but the back wheel bounce from the lip of the hole sent me across the track and laid me down on some grass on my side with the bike on my right leg. Nothing hurt and no damage to the bike whick I got up quickly, took a breather and carried on into some more serious stuff where we took a break.

Mony manhandling his moped through slippy stuff:



The "road" ahead:


AX-1 at rest:

Feeling the heat:



A long and uncertain way from anything:

Sorry this report is taking so long, every time I begin typing an update my bar gets customers or something else gets in the way.
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Old 03-02-2011, 02:32 AM   #15
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We carried on another 10k through deep mud, long grass and a mixture of mature woods and younger trees. There were many stumps of old trees and bushes hidden in the grass along with old fallen logs meaning caution was required.

The track we were following was pretty haphazard and getting worse. At one point Mony came to a halt and waved for me to stop. He seemed to be surveying for an alternate track as his moped wass proving troublesome to get through the deep water with the exhaust and engiine pretty much submerged all the time.

He pointed left and said that we should drive that way for a while. There was no obvious signs of vehicles having gone that way before but he was the expert - so I went first through thick scrub, circumnavigating falled tree- and sure enough we came onto a boggy path after twenty minutes of so and then, even more surprisingly, a very remote village of maybe ten houses on stilts.

No street, no water, no electric, no moto's even. Just oxen and carts. We stopped and Mony spoke with the village head's household for a while as I attempted to understand. After a few minutes we carried on.

Mony explained that he has been traveling through this jungle for a decade but never saw a sign of this village before. It's certainly not on any map I have seen. It's name sounds similar to "Sra So" - which is what Cambodian people call rice wine. As it turned out, Mony had seen something where I had seen no trail and had simply wanted to go and investigate. Should we do this trip again we will overnight in that village.

We pushed back to where we had left the trail and carried on. My back brakes had worn out at this point due to the constant muck, clay and sandy terrain.

The trail also improved substantially at around this time and became largely double track with sections that were fast and fairly smooth but also with vast submerged sections too deep to ford which necessitated long looping detours through the jungle on either side. Some of these detours were pure hell on the AX-1 with it's kinda unsuitable tyres as it was just a matter of spinning, pushing and rocking her out of boggy holes and making damn sure I didn't dump her in the water in the middle of nowhere.

I came off for the second time shortly afterwards. We were fording a submerged section of the double track. It was too deep to ford driving on the left or right track, so I was driving on the hump between either track. This was treacherous as the ground was not consistient and my front end began to go with maybe 5metres of a 20m ford left to go. I really didn't want a bike with porridge for oil and dirty water in the carb while in the jungle so as she began to go over to the right I gassed her and kept her up as I went down on to the right hand track and the deeper water. I kept the revs high and worked the clutch and somehow the bike didn't die despite the air filter having been underwater. I powered out of the water and just laid over on my right, bike on me really thankful I hadn't drowned her.

Again, no damage, apart from a cracked mirror. I took a few minutes to smoke a cigarette and drink some water. I think that it was somewhere near 3pm by this time and I was drenched in sweat. The complete lining of my helmet was as wet as a sponge with stinky sweat and I was beginning to feel a little tired.

After another 30 minutes of so we left the heavy forest and came onto some old and uncultivated rice paddies. I can only speculate that they are a legacy from the time of the Khmer Rouge and the forced agrarian society they attempted to impose. Either way they were fucking tough to drive in as they were flooded, but at least you could slide around without being in danger of hitting a tree stump. We had to drive a large "Z" shape through them to avoid the deeper parts and after another ten or fifteen minutes we came upon a semi-abandoned village and took a small break under a farmers house.



They had an inquisitive pig.

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