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Another day with the usual problems with assorted bikes

Our second group made it to Kampong Cham at just about sunset. They’d managed to see the Bamboo Bridge and make it to Kampong Thom with only one deluge slowing them. Quite an accomplishment.

Today, it’s more of the same. Up early with intentions of starting early. Then the day’s bike problems emerge and we’re off to find a repair shop. We finally get everyone going in assorted splinter groups on the road to Siem Reap, about 150 kms up the road. Continue Reading »

We leave the Mekong Hotel and while we’re getting the bikes loaded, Adrian shows up. He’d left Phnon Penh that morning having had his bike repaired the night before and ridden the distance this morning.

He tells us that though the plan for the second group was to start at 6AM, the bikes didn’t cooperate. It was now 9 AM and they still hadn’t left Phnom Penh. Hopefully, we’ll all meet up in Kampong Thom tonight though we have some doubts about that. Continue Reading »

Cambodia was changed for ever when the US invaded in May of 1970. The Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army had been using Cambodia as a sanctuary while fighting the South Vietnamese and the US Army. The bombing and attacks by the US military gave the Cambodian communists the pretext they needed to rise up against the royal Cambodian government of Prince Sihanouk.

What no one was able to foresee was how different the Khmer Rouge, the Cambodian communists, were from the Viet Cong and the Pathet Lao in Laos. Where the Lao and Vietnamese communists were basically nationalist movement that wanted to take power in their respective countries, the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, wanted to create a completely new agrarian, communist country that was cleansed of all traces of the modern world. Continue Reading »

It’s another day in paradise. Actually, cool with a high overcast. It’s supposed to be hot and dry. This is cool and humid. And that means rain in the afternoon.

As we get moving, late as usual, we start having the usual starter problems. That splits the group into at least 2 groups. We’re in the lead group and continue up the road.

The route today is to Phnom Penh. The distance from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh is just too long to ride in one day, especially with a couple of novice riders. Add in some bike breakdowns and stopping in Kampot is a smart move. Now all we have to do is make it to Phnom Penh. Continue Reading »

It’s a bright, clear day and everyone is up and ready to get the bikes. The bikes are at Andy’s which is a few hundred meters up the road. He arrives, gives some direction and starts ferrying people up the road. We start walking. We’ll be sitting for hours day after day. Might as well get some exercise while we can.

Up the main road, down an alley way, skirt a mud hole, take a left into a small compound with some small villas. Under a roof are there 9 bikes, in various states of “oldness” but all ride-able.

On these moped rallies, we usually buy the bikes from some expat who collects the for us, does some minor repairs (supposedly) and then sells them to us as a lot. That takes care of the documentation for the bikes which can be a problem when buying the bike off Craigslist from someone who is leaving and needs to get rid of the bike. Sometimes it even works that way. Continue Reading »

Last night, it was about 9:00 when we got everyone on the move. Out to a bar for a few rounds of beer and back to the hotel. I know most of the group: Clemo, Pinky, Tony Brimble, Paul Bradley. We have 4 new guys: Bruce (a previous Clemo victim), Adam, Ryan and Adrian. And myself and Guv (who, as is his way, is currently at parts unknown) make up the rest of the group. Continue Reading »

It’s the morning of the 30th and everyone is up and getting ready to go to school. Barbara, Ayron and the boys are going to drop me at the airport on the way to school. We all crowd into Barbara’s Fit and off we go.

There’s no traffic to speak of and we get to the airport with no dramas. Unload my gear. Give B a kiss and hug. Hug Ayron, Talyn and Mika. And they’re off again. Pick up my bag. Damn, this thing is heavy. (I’m carrying about 10 pounds extra weight in tools for repairs on the road.) Into the terminal. Continue Reading »

It’s the 29th and I haven’t heard anything from the visa agency. I’m leaving tomorrow and I really need some assurance from them that I will have my passport and be able to leave. Otherwise, it’s plan B, whatever the hell that is. I don’t have a plan B yet. Leave a voicemail requesting an update. Continue Reading »

The drama really starts 10 days ago. I’ve already gotten my Cambodian visa. You can get them on arrival at the Phnom Penh airport but that can be a long wait. Surprisingly, you can also get one on line. Fill out the form, upload a picture, pay by credit card, wait a few days and you get ana email with a PDF file attached that contains your visa. Probably no less secure that standing in line at the airport.

Next is the Chinese passport. I downloaded the forms from the website of the company that I’ve used many times for visas, filled them out and uploaded a picture to the website so that I didn’t have to get more passport-sized photos done at my local RiteAid.

I checked may passport for blank pages and found three of them. That should be enough. More on this later. Before I could print the forms and send everything to the visa agency, I get an email informing me that the photos do not meet the standards that the Chinese require for passport photos. The background is not pure white. It’s almost white. Okay I’ll re-shoot the photo. Continue Reading »

The last day of driving. And it’s less than 400 kms. But the route does cross the Andes and it is a border crossing. We pack the car and leave.

John hasn’t been able to confirm his plane reservation and he’s afraid that he’ll be stuck in Santiago. His fight is supposed to be just after midnight but he can’t seem to get any kind of confirmation. We need to get to the Santiago airport to see what he can do about his flght.

It’s early morning and there’s a thin overcast. Looking towards the mountains in the west, it looks like the high mountains may be lost in the clouds. That would be a shame since the route goes right by the Argentine Parc Nacional Aconcauga in which is the Cerro Aconcagua which, at nearly 7,000 meters (actually 6,962 meters which for you metrically-challenged out there is 22,841 feet) is the highest mountain in the world outside the Himalayas. We hope to see it but the overcast isn’t encouraging. Continue Reading »

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