Battambang – Osoam – Off-Road Riding

It’s 6:30 am and I am picking up my Honda XR 250 bike, from a local rental place.  The girl just finished changing the oil and now I am ready to meet up with the others.

Mr. Chea is on his China made ATV,  and Vannah is riding his trusty 125 Scooter, with Samphors on the back.  Brother and sisterly love 🙂.

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Mr. Chea’s soon, Lay Hok, is riding a mini sport bike.  I think they are 150cc.
I want one!

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It was about 7:30am when we finally left Battambang, on highway 5.  Our first destination is Thippadei.

From Thippadei city, no one in our group has been on these roads.  They show up on google maps.  So we won’t get lost. Right!

Within the first hour, one of us already ran out of gas.  Oh, wait, that was me.  No big deal though.  There are people selling gas in 1 litre plastic bottles all over.

A short bit later we are in Thippadei, and another minute later we are through Thippadei and onto unknown roads.  Very quickly the roads go from gravel, to just sand and holes.  We slow from our 65 KM pace, to 30 KM and less.

Originally I was guessing it would take us 6 hours to go 180 KM to Osoam Village Community.  However, the last hour we only traveled 20 KM.  Maybe less.

The roads went from bumpy, to no actual roads at all.  We are now on, what I would call, trails.

Lay Hok got stuck in this mud hole, but only because a rock was in front of his front wheel.  🙂  No big deal, he kicks it out of the way and rips through.

Lunch time has arrived and we find a vacant hut to eat and rest in.  So far, I think we have spent more time trying to determine what is the correct trail to take.  They show on google maps, but not in the exact GPS location we are in.  More than once we took the wrong path and had to find a new route.  All part of the adventure.

After lunch we spend another 5 hours of riding, getting lost, finding our way, and taking short breaks.

My ass and back are really starting to hurt.  Mostly my back.  I guess 3 herniated discs and these trails are not good for me.

Some pictures from the day.

After 11 hours of hard riding we decide to stop for the night.  I was really happy as I had no headlight.  It was turned on, but nothing.  However, Vannah says to me, turn your lights on.  I said, they don’t work and go to show him.  This is when I find out, the On, Low, High, positions are all OFF, and the OFF position, turns my lights on.  Well, at least I have lights now.

Anyways, we never made it to Osoam.  Actually we are not much past half way, and the road from here to Osoam is just as bad.

8 PM, we finish dinner and go to sleep for the night.  I don’t have camping gear, so I rented a room.  The others camped right where we ate.  🙂  That is called Cambodian Camping.

5:45 AM the next morning, Mr. Chea, and the gang are knocking on my door, saying, lets go!

So, I grab my stuff, shake my head, and we ride off, into this amazing sunrise.

I hope we make it to Osoam before lunch.  We only have 80 KM to go.  Haha!

Beautiful sunrise!

I ride ahead every so often and then take a break while the gang catches up.  These roads are muddy, and slippery.  The scooter and mini sport bike have amazed me, at how well they are going through the mud without getting stuck.  Very impressive riding by my Cambodian friends.

On one of the crazy wet hills, we find a nice spot to stop and take breakfast.  Full service, in the jungle!  A scooter carrying ice and drinks stops as we are eating.  How amazing is that!

Well back to riding!

The others found a short cut across the lake using two ferries.  I am so happy, until I see the ferry.  Lol.  I am a little surprised but it holds Mr. Chea and Lay Hok.  Vannah, Samphors, and I must wait for it to come back.

While waiting, this dog and little chic entertain me.

Our turn!

First ferry crossing was a success, and the next one looks easy, as it is much larger.

Now that we made it across the 2 ferries, we only have 5 KM left.

I was very happy, those 5 KM were on good roads.  We made it in record time!

Oh, I almost forgot.  1 KM left and there is one medium sized mud hole.  So far we have had no issues, even when we crossed a river, only our feet got wet.

But not this time!

As Vannah was crossing, he hits a very deep hole hidden in the mud, and gets stuck.  No problem right.  As Samphors is getting off of the bike, she slips and falls 100% of the way, into the muddy water.  As she gets up, she slips and falls again.

Do you know how badly I wanted to laugh, but I didn’t because I was worried she might have dropped her brand new iPhone in it.

However, everything was OK.  So I was able to laugh and tell the others, who didn’t see it. 🙂

6 hours of riding today, and we make it to Osoam.  Time to relax and have a nice lunch!

After lunch we hand out some donations to the English Charity school owned by my friend Mr. Lim and take some pictures.

Next stop is to the public school in Osoam Village, 1 KM down the road.

Mr. Chea, Vannah, Samphors, and Lay Hok donated a tone of books to the school for the children.  Pretty awesome thing to do!

The director of the school asked if I would be willing to come back and teach gym and assist in English.  I said, I would try, but no promises as I have no idea where I am going next.

Well, this is where I decided I cannot ride another 200 KM to Koh Kong.  The gang is going to slip up.  I am going to stay in Osoam for the night and will ride back to Battambang alone tomorrow.

The rest of the day, I tried to relax, but the little snots, or as most call them, kids wanted me to go swimming.  After saying no, a tone of times I eventually went.

It was nice, but my back was not having any of it.  So, I only went swimming for a few minutes and then went back to relax.

The next morning at 7 am I jumped on the XR 250 and headed towards home.  Instead of taking the ferry, I decided I would just ride that part of the road.

What a crazy mistake that was.  The road was way worse than what we had ridden the last two days.  I definitely should have taken their advice and went on the ferries.

I should have taken some pictures but I was too busy trying to keep upright.

Anyways, I made it through in 2 hours.  I beat our 6 hours from the day before.  Now I am cheating and taking the highway back.  It is longer, but shorter because I will not be getting lost and can cruise at whatever speed I want.

2 hours later I am not halfway, and the dust on the road is un-explainable.  Just take a look at these two pictures.

Even though my ass is hurting like mad, my back feels like someone is stabbing me with a knife, I only take 5 minute breaks and continue as fast as I can see.

9 hours in total and I make it to Battambang.  Man, am I glad to be finished riding.

This was an amazing adventure and I cannot wait to see the others, and share our pictures.

Check out my video with some extra footage.

Battambang – Back with Friends and Volunteering

It is 2017 and I decided to come back to Battambang to visit my good friend Mr. Chea.  He has invited to come to his hotel for a few nights, while I help him with some website stuff.

So, January 2nd, I take the bus down to Battambang, and meet with Mr. Chea at his, very amazing hotel.  This is a 5 star, resort and the room he gave is, is nicer than I could even imagine.  His staff are super friendly and treat me like I am VIP or extremely important.  Which I am not!

http://vimeansovannaphoumresort.com

Anyways, after checking in, I meet up with Mr. Chea, his good friend and manager, Whanna, and Whanna’s sister for dinner.  I am sure I am spelling his name wrong, but it will do for now.

That night we sat, drank, ate, until late.  To make it even more fun, we played Russian roulette with beers.  Angkor beers have a chance to win a free beer under the cap, and we kept saying, last round unless someone wins a beer.  Eventually we were all hoping no one would win a free beer.  LOL!  What a night, is all I can say.

I won’t forget theses nights, done in Cambodia style!

The next day Mr. Chea’s son, Whanna’s sister and I went through the technical updates for the websites, and I also gave them some tips on using media editing software.

I was asked how much would it cost them for me to do some designs and logos.  My answer, “I don’t charge Khmer people!”, “if they need help, I do it for free!”.

However, I am still waiting for them to ask for more help.  I hope they do, because I love doing it.

Later Mr. Chea and I talked about going to Osoam Village on Jan 10th.  That is not for another 7 nights, and until that day, he is going away.  This is OK I said, as I will find a school to go and volunteer at until he arrives back.

Online  I found KNGO School, that needs volunteers to help in English and also other areas.  So, I called the director and made arrangements for me to arrive the next day at 1 PM.

Link to schoohttp://www.kngocambodia.org/

I was greeted with big smiles from the director and a lot of the students.  A great first impression.

Over the next 3 days, I assisted Sopheak from 1 PM until 6 PM in 5 different classes.  He is an amazing teacher and I learned a lot of very good teaching techniques, that I will use in other schools.

On the last 2 days, I spent 10 hours teaching the director and his IT guy how to update their website, and how to setup backups, for all of the PCs.

Someone else configured the website, but they had no idea how he did it, or the password.  I was able decrypt the one file which was holding the saved password, and give it to them.  They were very happy now that they can make updated via FTP.

On the last day, we took some pictures of the top students of that month.

I spent a total of 25 hours volunteering at KNGO in 5 days and loved every minute of it.  Maybe I will get a chance in the future to come back.

While waiting for Mr. Chea to come back, I got to spend some lunches and dinners with his mom, and wife.  Neither speak English, but are always very hospitable. The staff usually translates for us, which really helped.

The one lunch I got to meet his grandfather, who speaks 4 languages.  Very impressive.  He is a really nice guy!  I later found out that he is a Senator of Cambodia.  I am now personal friends with a Senator Of Cambodia.  WTF!  He even asked me to come visit him in Phnom Phen.

I am starting to learn that Mr. Chea is not just a hotel owner, but a very important man in the community.  He is obviously very humble, as he has never told me any of this.  He acts like he is not important, but everywhere I go, people know about him.

The one day, he invited me to go with him to a wedding.  I thought why not, even though I am dressed like a backpacker.  I am told this is OK, for man to do.

At the wedding, I didn’t actually see the ceremony, but was at the reception.  From the minute I walked in, until the minute I left.  Everyone treated me like I was special, and kept saying hi.  This one lady asked me tones of questions about me and how much I like different things in Cambodia.

I have to say, I really enjoyed the party and the company.

Here is a fun little story that reinforces why I like Cambodia so much.

The one day I was having coffee with my local friend Ly and we were talking about teaching.  He was asking me different questions about the schools.  Anyways, after we were finished, I was about to pay, and the waitress tells my friend, that the guy behind us paid.  So, Ly asks why, but she didn’t know.  Before I got a chance to tell him thank you.  He turns around and says, “Thank you for helping the people in my country.”

How amazing is that.  He only understood a little English but understood the word volunteer and that I was doing that.

On January 7th, Cambodia celebrates the defeat of Khymer Rouge.  This was one heck of a big event and I got a chance to celebrate it with them.  However, I am not going to go into big details on this yet, as I am writing a separate post on it later.  It was an honour to be able to be here for this celebration.

Anyways, Mr. Chea is back and tomorrow early we leave for an adventure across country, to Osoam.  200 KM of off road, jungle riding.  Wish me luck!

Battambang – Friends, more friends, and what more friends

Battambang started off pretty good and only got better as my time here continued.

When I arrived at the bus stop, the hotel sent over a Tuk Tuk to pick me up.  The Tuk Tuk driver brought along Thean, a Cambodian, who speaks excellent English.

Thean is a really nice guy, very friendly and knowledgeable.  He also operates his own tour business, where he takes tourist to the local hot spots.  More on that later.

The hotel I checked into is called First Hotel, and immediately I get a good impression from the staff.  My room is very nice as well.  Comfy bed, hot water, and all this for $6 a night.

Anyways, my first day is spent just wandering around the streets, seeing what all is here.  At first, I think it is the same as Pursat, just bigger.  Not sure if this is where I want to stay very long.

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However, my opinion very quickly changes.

The two hotel staff are so nice, and always say, Hello Rob, and want to chat.  If they have food, they always offer me some.  I very quickly feel like I have been here for weeks, and I have only been here 1 day.

The next morning I see Thean and he asks if I want to go for coffee together. Sure, why not.

This leads into him telling me about his business and all the things to see in Battambang, and one thing I must see.  The Killing Caves!  This will be a separate post, which will NOT be safe for kids to read!

We also talk about his business and I later help him with some technical stuff online.

He arranges for me to get a Tuk Tuk to see the bats that night.  This is going to be cool!

If you are in Cambodia, check out Thean’s website.
https://www.facebook.com/banana.bbtour/

After our coffee, I head back to the hotel but on my walk I see tones of crazy Cambodian things.  They have no fear!

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Around 3:30 pm a Tuk Tuk driver picks me up from the hotel and we drive out to the Killing Caves, where I can see 1 million bats fly out of a cave, at dusk.

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When we arrive I spend 1 hour at the Killing Caves, and watching the monkeys act like assholes.  Yes, they are assholes.  Trust me, but still funny.

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It is almost time for the bats, so I head down the 700 steps.

Again, 700 STEPS!

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I finally make it to the bats, and now just have to wait for them to fly out.

Then all of a sudden I feel someone rubbing my shoulders and telling me I owe $1 for pictures.  It is one of the hotel staff.  He is all happy to see me here, and sits down beside me.  He gives me a history lesson on the bats, and area.  Such a nice guy!

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20 minutes goes by, and then they start flying out.  Wow! truly amazing!  Unfortunately my camera doesn’t do it justice.

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I watch it for about 15 minutes, and love all 15 minutes of it.

When we arrive back at the hotel, Thean is sitting there.  He asks me if I want to come with him to a party.

Hell yes!

We get to this grand opening of a restaurant, where we meet his friends.  Again, they treat me like I am a king or something.  One guy immediately gives up his seat for me.  I say, no, but he doesn’t accept that.

Very quickly we are all chatting and they are offering me food, drinks, and more drinks.  They tell me I am not allowed to pay, this is a grand opening.

You have no idea how amazing I feel being around these guys.

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After dinner we all head over to another bar, where Flower, the girl in the one picture works.

Here the drinks are not free and I buy the first round.  However, I was no longer allowed to buy any more drinks.  They told me it is not allowed, they are paying.

Again, I can’t explain how much this type of hospitality means to me.  It is truly amazing.

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The night doesn’t stop here.  After, Flower takes me to another party.  This one is crazy fun, but I am getting to drunk.

She gives me some blue drink that is almost pure vodka, and after that drink, I am done.   I walk home, which I do not remember, but I think it is 3 am.

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Walking through Battambang at that time of morning was actually very safe. I felt fine and was not worried.

The next day I sleep in, and then eventually get my ass out of bed.  I see Thean and ask him to take me on a tour around Battambang.  He says sure, and we head out.

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During the tour, he stops to say hi and pick up a friend of his named Cher.  Cher is a pretty nice guy, and speaks OK English.

10 minutes into the tour, Cher asks me if I want to go with him tomorrow to his Mango Farm.  I say, Yes.  I don’t even know this guy, and he wants to take me to see his farm.  Pretty cool.

I didn’t get any good pictures that night because, well, it was dark.

The next morning at 8:30 am Cher picks me up and we drive 1.5 hours out to his farm.  On the way, he buys fruit for us, and he is another Cambodian who will not let me pay when I offer.  He tells me, he is lucky to have met me, and this is his honour to treat me.

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I really like Cher!

At this farm I get the full tour, and then they cooked me lunch.  Rice, Coconut, and soup.  I am telling you, they know how to cook!

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Oh yes, the coconut was picks right in front of me!

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After lunch we drive back to Battambang.  On the way, Cher asks me to come back to Cambodia and stay longer next year.  I think this would be amazing, and I really want to do this.

Shortly after we arrive back, Flower sends me a message and asks if I want to come out for a drink with her.  Can you guess?  I say Yes!

She picks me up on her scooter and I ride on the back.  This is the second time I have ridden on the back with her driving and I like it.  I can play on my phone, do my hair, and don’t have to worry about running into someone.  She is a pretty good driver!

This night is the same as the last.  I meet a few new people, but these are expats, and not locals.  However, just as much fun.  Actually too much, as the next day I feel it. haha.

Over the next day, I have coffee with Thean a few times, have many conversations with the hotel staff, and one conversation I won’t forget.  Vany one of the guys I met with Thean gave me a history tour on Cambodia.  He is a really cool guy, and I love our conversations.

 

If are in Cambodia, check out Vany’s website.
http://smilenettour.blogspot.com/

 

I am really glad I do not have those emotional feelings when leaving people, because this would be hard to leave my new friends tomorrow.

On to new adventures, and I hope I see them again someday!

Battambang – Great, I shit myself again!

While in Pursat, my nausea still continues.  I feel like shit, and consistently feel like I am going to puke, and I am having a hard time swallowing.  However, the good news I realized why I feel like this.

My doctor back home gave me pills for control my IBS.  I only started taking them a 1 month ago, even though I got them 5 months ago.  Yea, yeah, that’s how I am!  But for the first time ever, I didn’t even read the label, I just took them twice a day, when it said once a day.   Normally I would read the label, and research the hell out of them.

Well, I should have!

I am actually taking Codeine at a large does and this is causing me to get nausea, with problems swallowing.  A common side-effect.

So I stopped taking the pills, and I am feeling better, but now I am having withdraws.  I read it should only last a few days.  Oh well, not something that will ever stop me from doing what I want.

So, I catch the 10 am bus to Battambang and I feel good enough.  All I am concerned about is not shitting my pants.

What type of bus is this though.  They are playing karaoke, and a few people are singing to it.  Please save me!

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OK, it is not that bad, actually really funny, until they play “Achy Breaky heart”.  This is where I draw the line. hahaha.

About 1 hour into the bus ride, I feel a very familiar pain.   I am cramping!  Oh, please no!  I am not going to shit my pants again!  I am determined to hold it.

20 minutes goes by, and the cramps are crazy.  I look at my GPS and see we are close, another 5 or 10 minutes.

At this point I am running all scenarios through my head.  “What are the chances there will be a toilet at the bus stop?”, “Can I ask the driver to stop and I will go behind the bus?”, “How far can I duck walk before it comes out?”, “If I shit myself, how obvious will it be?”

Well, I make it to the bus stop, and the turtle head is still in his shell!  I grab my backpack and see there is a toilet 40 steps away.  I feel confident I will make it.  I start with a slow walk, which quickly turns into my famous duck walk.  Each step I am praying to my poop gods, to allow me, just this one more time to make it.

5 steps to go, I am going to make it.

Somehow, I don’t know how, but I make it.  The only fun is it is squat toilet, no paper, and only a bucket with a cup to dump water on your hand and clean yourself.  Whatever, I don’t care anymore.  I made it!

Just another amazing adventure and I am so thankful I am only going to Battambang and not the 5 hours to Siam Reap.

I am here Battambang, and I am going to leave my mark in every toilet!