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Friday, 26 December 2014

INDOCHINA RIDE WITH DJ: DAY 4 - 6

DAY 4, 15 Sept 14: KANCHANABURI – SUPHANBURI – NAKHON NAYOK – ARANYAPRATHET / POIPET – SIEM REAP

After checking out in the morning, I exited Kanchanaburi and headed along route 324 – 321 to Suphanburi. I purposely did this to avoid having to enter BKK. It was a peaceful ride in the morning passing along the paddy fields. The two lanes road were deserted and this enabled me to speed at 130kmh. Though by choosing this route, I added few more kms to my distance, but it sure saved my time compared to having to cross the super jammed BKK. After Suphanburi, the road was pretty bad with heavy trucks and pot holes for about 30kms and I was a bit confused bcos my map had the route number written wrongly. Fortunately I managed to find my way.




I proceeded via route 329 – 33 all the way until the THL – Cambodia border. The customs officers at the THL side were very friendly. I was done in less than 5 mins. However, the immigration officers weren’t so. They asked me for a photostat copy of the customs declaration form which I had already given to the customs just now. Weird. They were supposed to stamp my passport, why were they asking for the customs form? I had to walk back to the customs building and asked for the form to be photostat and go back to the immigration office. Some more waiting and finally after 30mins, my passport was stamped and they let me go.



Upon entering Poipet, I faced some confusion as the sign to the immigration office was unclear. Once I found it, I joined the others to have my passport stamped. This is a busy border and there are too many people cueing at the counter. A senior officer told me that if I wanna hv an express check in, the price is B200. I just smiled at him and said thanks. I waited for about half an hour but my line didn’t move at all. So I waved at the senior officer and told him that I want the express check in. It was done in 15mins. Once done, I headed to the customs office to declare for bringing my bike into this country. However, to my horror, the customs officer said that I was not allowed to bring my bike into Cambodia thru this border. He asked me to go back to Thailand. I begged him to let me in with my bike. After some persuading, he asked to see DJ, and perhaps impressed over what he saw, eventually he said okey, but he will not give me any customs declaration form. He reminded me to be careful. I thanked him and hurriedly get away from there as soon as I can before he change his mind. I found out later that for the past 2 years, no foreign vehicles were allowed to enter Cambodia via this border. Ohh, I am so very lucky.


Riding in Cambodia is crazy. Cambodians are and will always be Cambodians. Their driving attitude hadn’t change since the last time I rode here in 2012. They came out from junction as they liked, never gv signal beforehand and pretend as if they owned the road and that other road users must gv priority to them. I had to hit my brakes in an emergency situation few times due to this kind of behavior. I was really thankful that I choose a bike with ABS system, or else DJ and I would have flown into the nearby paddy fields.

I arrived Siem Reap when the sun was setting. The map in my GPS was not detailed so I couldnt find the guest house which I intend to stay. I finally settled at Cheysokha GH, a very nice place which costed me USD12 per night. This huge spotless room was well equipped with TV, electric kettle, fridge, aircond, hot shower, wifi and DJ was safely parked at a yard behind the GH.






DAY 5, 16 Sept 14: SIEM REAP

Around 10am, I made my way to the Angkor Complex. Purchased a one day ticket for USD20, I headed straight to Angkor Wat. A man asked me to park my bike at the bikes parking lot, but I sweet talked him into letting me pose in front of Angkor Wat first. Believe it or not, I got 20 minutes for my private photo session :)


The ticket counter
Exclusive...in front of Angkor Wat


Then I circled the area and tried to enter Angkor Wat with my bike via the back gate. However the guards didn’t let me in. I persuaded him in any way that I can until I could see that he was on the verge of crying. However he couldn’t let me in bcos it was against the rule. One of his colleagues got fired upon letting a foreigner in. He told me how much he needed this job to earn money for his studies and to help his family. I felt sooo sorry for him, so I surrendered. I supposed I couldn’t be selfish.

I went back to Angkor Wat and visit this world heritage site, and after that to the Bayon temple.





Every year, people died climbing this steep rail less stairs.
Now, they had it fenced. Lucky that I had climbed the
stairs when I first visited Angkor Wat in 2006




West Gate to Bayon


Since my cam was low on batt, I decided to go back to my hotel to hv it charged and later, go back to the Angkor site. I dropped by at a tourist info centre first to ask about the road condition to Ou Smach border. The staff who could speak English didn’t know about the road condition. Luckily there was a taxi driver at the centre who made a call to his long distance taxi driver friend and asked about it. I was informed that the road is good, except a small part near the border. I felt relieved upon hearing this.



After charging my cam, I rode back to the Angkor site. However, it rained very heavily and I had to take shelter. When the rain lessened, I rode to Ta Phrom to visit the Lara Croft temple. It was quite a distance to reach this temple and the road was deserted as it was still raining. When I reached the site, it was already flooded. I met the last person going out even before I reached the main entrance. It was pitch dark inside as this temple was located in the jungle. I was hesitating - to enter or not to enter. I didnt bring a torch with me. I braved myself and take a look inside using the light from my mobile phone. It was scary being alone in here. I remembered the last time I faced this kind of situation was when visiting Niah Cave in 2012. I didn’t spend too much time, only about 15 mins when a policeman came and ushered me out.

Crossing a bridge to Ta Phrom temple



Ta Phrom at 6pm, drizzling. Creepy for real, huhh? Ada bran?

After that I went to the market and the art craft centre to check out the interesting place. All sorts of crafts and souvenirs could be found here.







DAY 6, 17 Sept 14: SIEM REAP – OU SMACH – UBON RATCHATHANI – CHONG MEK – PAKXE


After checking out, I made my way to the Ou Smach border. I knew this border from my sifu, Hadi Hussein but he never mention the town name, meaning that he wants me to check it out for myself. My initial plan was to ride all the way east to Stung Treng but my sifu told me that many Malaysian bikers had been turned down upon trying to enter Laos thru Stung Treng. Besides, the road to Stung Treng was badly damaged by recent flood and construction was still ongoing. It will be frustrating and a waste of time if I have to turn back, so I better don’t take the risk. 

The road to Ou Smach was nicely paved, straight and offered a scenic view of vast paddy fields on both sides of the road. This enabled me to speed faster, but there were a couple of times that I had to hit the brakes as suddenly, out of nowhere, goats and dogs ran across the road. As being told by the taxi driver yesterday, there were some parts of broken road along the way and I had to climb a hill when nearing the border. 






Border crossing was easy. For Cambodia part, I only need to stamp my passport. I didn’t hv to drop by at the customs as there was no form to be returned. As for the Thailand part (Chongchom), the customs young officer took 30 mins to process my document. I supposed she’s new and not quite sure what to do. Both borders were free of charge. There were not many people at this border, thus making this border a much better option to cross compared to Poipet border, if one wanna go to Siem Reap.



The Thailand side



After that, off I go via route 24. The road was sometimes one lane and sometimes 2 lanes, sometimes busy with traffic and sometimes deserted. Green paddy fields dominated the view. At Ubon Rathathani, I had to take the ring road to go to Chong Mek border. The road to the border was a nice paved two lanes roller coaster type with view of the Sirinthon Dam on the right side of the road. 




Border crossing was easy for the Thailand side. I didn’t hv to pay a single cent. However, I had to wait for quite a while at the Lao side (Vung Tao). I had to pay B40 to the immigration and B100 to the customs for bringing my bike into the country.

It was already 5pm and I need to hurry up. I didn’t want to ride in this country after it gets dark. I rode slowly on the small road of 16W, always reminding myself to be alert at all times. It was not so far to reach Pakxe, only about 43kms and after crossing the Lao – Nippon Bridge, I arrived this small town. Nothing had changed since the last time I’m here two years back.






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NASTIA

Band: NASTIA, Title: ANGGUR (taken from EP 'EKSPRESI')
HAK CIPTA ANITA YUSOF