Tuesday 2nd January
Miles: 66 Climbing: 1506ft
Today was a day of mixed emotions. I was back on the tourist route now and while that felt busy and chaotic I also felt a little relieved. I knew that if disaster struck after this point I could still very easily get to Bangkok for my flight home, even if it meant ditching my bike and hitchhiking. I also had more than a week left and although I still have one more country to do, the distance on the map had shrunk considerably. For the first time I actually let myself believe that I would complete the whole journey by bike. It was quite overwhelming to think this. It also felt like the beginning of the end. In just few days I would be in Bangkok and I wouldn’t have to cycle anymore. I wasn’t ready for that, I wanted to carry on. In fact, I didn’t want to fly home from Bangkok at all, I wanted to cycle home.
I still had a few more days on the bike to enjoy so I headed out of Siem Reap in the direction of the Thai border. Getting out of Siep Reap was stressful, the traffic was very heavy, there were a lot of junctions and I wasn’t used to cycling in traffic. They drive on the right here and as I was going through a crossroads, intending to continue straight on, a minibus on my left decided he wanted to turn right. Luckily I noticed with enough time to begin to turn with him, with my handlebars leaving nice scratches all the way down the side of his minibus. I did eventually come off my bike but his van got a lot more damage that either me or my bike. I was very lucky.
The roads eventually widened outside of the city but were still a lot busier than I had been used to for the last couple of weeks. I kept myself entertained by watching what was going on around me. At one point I had to stop as hundreds of ducks were being herded across the road.
In another town I stopped at a crossing outside a school where the appeared to be using children as a human shield. I’m not sure you’d get away with that back home.
I was quickly approaching the Thai border but there didn’t appear to be any options for places to stay near to either side so I chose to cut today short at 65 miles and headed to a nearby town. As I approached the town I spotted some other cyclist and stopped to chat.
They were Roger and Peter. Both of them were retired and did a lot of long distance tours. Roger was American but lived in Thailand and was on a recumbent cycle and Peter was French Canadian. Like me, they didn’t have a place to stay that night so I told them about the place I had spotted on the map and we agreed to try and meet up there later on. They said they would be a lot slower than me so I went ahead.
Luckily, there was room for all of us and after a frustrating moment when I was trying to switch on the air conditioner with the TV remote (neither or which, it turned out, worked) we met of some cold beers before heading out for dinner. We decided to be adventurous and ordered random things from the menu, I still have no idea what half of the things we ate were. We had a feast fit for a king for about £3.
We said our goodbyes later that evening. Roger and Peter insisted that they were too slow for me but it sounded like they would leave before me the next morning so there was a chance I would bump into them again at some point.