Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Riding Log – From Sihanaukville to Koh Kong

This journey was from Sihanoukville to Koh Kong roughly 240km distance and I was doubtful that I would even make that journey. 

Arrival at Koh Kong 
Injured shoulder apart, since with some anti inflammation tablets, I seam to be able to function almost fully without any issues but each ride since Kampong Cham seams to be harder and harder on the Cambodian roads.

It’s always a guess if the roads are good for travel and even then you never know what kind of obstacles might happen in Cambodia such as rain or trucks or cows. Yet the idea of traveling 250km in a day seams like a big hurdle. I gave myself the whole day with even a halfway point emergency overnight stop if I have to.

Started journey at 9.30 am nice and easy getting out of Sihanoukville and out of the main highway going to Phnom Penh. By the halfway mark I was at lunch time 1230pm. Not too bad I thought since I only left with roughly 125km but still have 5 hours of sunlight to do the journey. The roads seamed better and the traffic reduced to a trickle once I diverged off the main route to Phnom Penh.

Problem with all main roads going or coming from Phnom Penh was that it is very much in used by all kinds of vehicles and the driving rules in Cambodia is seriously f*cked. The big trucks are the kings followed by the buses and then the big land rovers to the cars and smaller three wheels and finally the motorbikes. 

High beams ablaze and horns blaring loudly from a squeak beep to a jarring long continuous bully get out of my way horn was the types that makes riding in Cambodia stressful. Tarmac road seamed to be only made for the cars and the side-path are pure red dirt gravel very loose and very easy to skid if going too fast on a motorbike.

I thought I had a good road with no traffic front and back but the opposite oncoming traffic was heavy and all the overtaking vehicles gave a wide berth for the vehicle they are overtaking but no space for me on my motorbike. I played chicken one two many times and all the near collision that goes pass like a whoosh is damn scary. 

Roads with red Gravel Side-path 
Even if I slow down to 20 km/hr, the cars will still miss me by a hair-clip at 80km/hr. Looking at the cars flashing and honking from a mile away is already scary when they don't slow down, and when a truck does it, it was no doubt time to chicken out, off to the dirt path. That's the dangerous part as well, going from tarmac to dirt gravel in anything more than 20km/hr means chances of skidding and falling. 

Vehicles on the same lane is not good as well. All trucks, bus and cars seams to be traveling at hyper-speed and even with me pushing Bluey to 80km/hr cant seem to hold up more than a few seconds before they leave me behind. They are merciless to the small bikes. They overtake on the left and once the head of the vehicle is in line with the bike, they start to steer right forcing me most times to do an emergency slow down and bum myself off the tarmac to the red dirt gravel.

I now always hope to find a turtle , a slow car or a truck and keep up with them from behind. At least opposite oncoming overtaking vehicle does not play chicken with a car or truck and me behind them was safe in a way but then again a turtle still goes at 80km/hr. Seriously stressful to ride in Cambodia with the way the drivers are, inconsiderate for others.

Its weird as well since the lifestyle in Cambodia is so relax where everything seams to be on slow mode. Everything is on slow mode but when they hit the road, somehow they have an urgency like an ambulance but once they reach their destination, they just take forever to move on with the next task.

Route 48 in Cambodia was scenic ride to Koh Kong but I was unlucky. There was major road construction works all the way to Koh Kong and even the tarmac became pure gravel. I now had to learn to understand what kind of gravel I was riding on. Large stones, small stones, compacted stones, un-compacted stones, some I could go at 40km/hr if there was no pressure from other vehicles while most I had to go around 20 to 30 km/hr. 

Riding on Loose Gravel on Route 48 from Sihanaukville to Koh Kong 

My grip on my handle bar was so hard I had to stop every 30 minutes to rest my hands and get circulation going. The gravel seams to be playing tug of war with me always skidding a bit then not skidding at all then skidding a bit. My grip was iron clad trying to control as much as I can going as slow or as fast as I dared.

That balance 125km took me 5 hours. Hence I traveled an average of 25km/hr, f*ck. Every sealed tarmac I got onto, I speed up to 70km/hr and at the first sight of gravel I slowed down to 15km/hr just to test out the gravel looseness before speeding up to whatever speed I thought it will hold. 

Downhill on Gravel - Route 48 Cambodia 

Route 48 Through Mountain Roads in Pure Gravel 
Vibration hurts the joints of my elbow, my butt ache, my heart skips with every minor slide, and each f*cking car/truck that beeps me while overtaking even thou there was a big space and barely any cars make me want to give them the finger but alas my hand must not leave the handlebar.

The trail of gravel dust and pebbles flying after their overtaking also makes me want to f*cking kill them. Four wheels wont slide and these gravel feels like normal road to these 4x4 monsters but on a two wheel, gravel + side inclination + sharp curve + going downhill is a f*cking disaster waiting to happen if I even turn my head to look at the view.

In and out, gravel after gravel and so many turns, if only I had came a few months later, I think this road route 48 would be a wonderful ride though a very senic part of Cambodia.

Traveld on: Dec 2018
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