03
Mar

Siem Reap FC

By: muttler

 

27/01/2019 – Siem Reap (52km riding)

Today was quite a different day. We were going to be based in Siem Reap for the next few days, so it was about a little bit of cycling, stopping to look at something, repeat.

 

 

 

We got out of the centre of Siem Reap quite quickly, making our way through rice fields and lots of veggies. In no time we found ourselves in a local market, where not only were there lots of things to buy, but lots of food to eat too! We first of all jumped on to the waffles and the group couldn’t get enough! My favourites were the fried banana and especially the banana sticky rice. Yum! I could have stayed there all day eating.

 

 

Nearby we popped out head into a crocodile farm and got to see a big bunch of crocodiles just hanging out in the sun.

 

 

 

But the best part of the day was just around the corner, and completely unplanned. As we were riding we saw a bunch of local kids (early/mid teens) playing football in a dusty field. Cham stopped and asked “so is anyone up for playing?!”. A bunch of us were super keen, so a match of G Adventures United versus Siem Reap FC was born! We took to the field in our cycling gear and in no time were running up and down. It was a really tight match and we ended up playing for close to half an hour in the heat! It was SO much fun! In the end we went down 2-1, but that gives you an idea of how intense and close it was. It really was a highlight of the trip

 

 

 

 

We kept riding until we arrived at lunch. I had some form of Siem Reap soup which was nice to fill the belly before having a little relax in the abundant hammocks.

 

 

 

 

With the legs feeling good, we then rode to the famous stilted village in Tonie Sap lake. Tonie Sap is the largest lake in south east Asia, and also is incredible for how much it changes over the year. It is so much so that all the houses in the area sit on massive stilts to deal with the near 6m of water that arrives in rainy season. So it was fascinating to ride into the village on a dusty trail that at another time of the year we could be many metres under water. We could see the water mark on the stilts of the houses and it was incredible to think that for half the year bikes are replaced by boats as the necessary transport.

 

 

 

 

Even though it was low season, the lake was still quite plentiful and there were several floating restaurants out there in the lake. We jumped on a boat and made our way out to look. I imagine in high season the immense water with villages within would be amazing. As it was it was cool to see but more a curiosity than anything, seeing houses on large stilts and the odd restaurant out in the water.

We rode back a little ways before taking our bus back to Siem Reap. We had a quick change of hotels to do due to a mix up (moving to a much nicer one!) and then had time to relax before dinner at a cheap local. 50 cent beers! Yes! I had a good simple meal of spring rolls and rice curry.

The usual crew went out exploring Siem Reap and discovered as craft beer bar which was great. Beers were a little more expensive, but was nice to have a full flavoured beer! We enjoyed a couple and then head to bed for a very early morning.

03
Mar

Spiderlicious

By: muttler

 

26/01/2019 – Phnom Penh to Siem Reap (42km riding)

Today was our longest travel day… a bit of riding in there, but quite a bit of bus action as well to get us out of Phnom Penh and off to Siem Reap, our final destination on the trip.

It started with some bus travel for about 1.5hr out of the city, where we made our first real stop, and one I had been looking forward to all trip… the Spider Village at Skuon! This is fairly notorious for visitors to Cambodia. Where else will you get the chance to not just hold large furry spiders, but also eat one? The eating of spiders (and grubs and bugs) came not from novelty originally, but necessity, when food was scarce and the previous regime in full power.

 

 

 

 

 

So playing with and eating spiders? I was up for it! When you arrive many small children run up and will plonk spiders in your hands or on you. Most visitors shoo them away, but I was fine to hold a spider or two. We had a little time to wander the market. Cham looked after getting us some tasty treats for the bus, but it was fascinating to wander the market and see all the good eating on display!

 

 

 

When we got back in the bus, Cham offered up some goodies to whoever was keen. Most of us were willing to give it a go. The crickets were best for me… crunchy with some OK spice to them. The spider just tasted like deep fried something, and the grub was a little odd in texture. But all were fine. Not sure I would go back for much more though!

Another 1.5hr in the bus before we got a chance to get back on the bikes. When we started cycling it was very different countryside. The tracks were predominantly very dusty red roads, quite a contrast to Vietnam. It was some casual riding before stopping for a set lunch. Food in Cambodia was much more rice and curry than the soups in Vietnam. Nice to dive into some different cuisine.

 

 

 

 

The afternoon held more riding, with unfortunately a minor spill! One of our team came off her bike and managed to scrape up the knees pretty badly! Thankfully all was OK, and nothing that some antiseptic couldn’t get under control. After a bit more short riding (the roads were getting a bit too busy) it was on the bus for 2.5hrs to Siem Reap.

We arrived in Siem Reap, and instantly it felt very different. There were suddenly LOTS of tourists. While we had certainly seen our share in our travels thus far, clearly travel to Cambodia is all about Siem Reap and Angkor. As such, the city reflected that. It was quite pretty in places on the river, and wandering the streets certainly had a different buzz to them. But of course it also had a tourist area called Pub Street with lots of cheap drinking and food. That was fine, it was just the incessant people trying to get you into their bars that started to wear you out.

 

 

 

But for dinner Cham took us to a place that was a nice blend of good and cheap food and drink. Of course a 4.5 litre beer tower was in order! We chilled out there, playing some pool, before a few of us found a small bar to play some darts and then back to the hotel for the night.