29.01.2012 30 °C
It was an early start today. We jumped on some bikes with Grasshopper Adventures to go for a 60km cycle into the countryside with our wonderful guides Thearith and Srey Mom. We were riding with Ulrike from Germany. Ulrike had recently completed a cycle tour of the Laos mountain ranges and gave us lots of helpful travel advice.
The first part of our trip was along the train track slums out of Phnom Penh. I don’t think anything can prepare you for the assault on your senses that takes place as you go through the middle of a slum. There were naked children everywhere playing in the heaps of rubbish (although always smiling and waving) and the smell of human excrement was overpowering in places. Ulricke almost ended up skidding into what can only be described as a cesspit. This was a world away from the luxury cars and bars of central Phnom Penh.
From here we headed into the countryside. The rice fields had just been harvested and were being ploughed for the new watermelon crops. We stopped off in lots of villages along the way and met shy (and not so shy) villagers happy to show us their homes and businesses. When the children saw us cycling through they would run to the road to wave as we went past (hello hello hello, high five, bye bye bye bye bye bye), but the minute you stopped they would hide behind their mums legs or a nearby doorway occasionally peeking out or edging closer until you looked around and they disappeared again.
We ended our journey at Oudong Mountain. It is the last day of Chinese New Year so it was absolutely rammed.