Distance: 38 miles
Another horrendously early wake up & then a 2 hour transfer to our start point outside of Phnom Penh, a local service station, where you could buy coffee, savoury & sweet snacks, fried bugs, some kind of maggot & crispy tarantulas. They seemed to be going down a storm with a group of monks whose coach had also stopped.
The day started out at 6 am refreshingly cool, enough for our guide to mention he was cold ( I think it was in the high 20’s) but the temp rose rapidly as the morning progressed. Our first 20k was a long stretch of dual carriageway followed by main road. Whereas Vietnam was hot, wet & green, Cambodia was hot, dry & very windy.
The fierce headwind slowed our pace drastically and as the temp climbed to 36, it also sapped our energy. The wind was very strong & gusty, pushing the bikes off course and at the rest stops, the bikes were constantly blown over. We stopped at a Buddhist temples for rest, cooling & re-watering.
The streets were lined with children, there cannot be a child in Cambodia we haven’t said hello to! The Cambodian kids were much more forward than the Vietnamese and as it was the weekend, they were out in force. Every child waves, shouts hello and some ask your name, so you are constantly shouting hello & waving back whilst smiling. This was not a problem in Vietnam, but here the weather made it a mouth drying, dust filled experience. Hopefully they will all be back at school tomorrow!
By now it was hitting 36 degrees, and we were off the main drag, passing through village after village. Stilt houses lined the road, the underneath used as a barn, workshop & utility room. Most families had one or more Brahman type cattle that were either grazing the roadside or tethered in the front yard. Every house had a dog and at least 2 children!