I didn’t do much on my day off. After checking into the May Li Mu Met guesthouse, offering river views from a balcony on the third floor, for $7. I did some washing, and some reading, and generally chilled out.
I had a walk around town and found a guy who said he could “fix” the screen on my phone for $35 that day or “replace” it for $65 when he could get the part in, tomorrow. I told him that was no good, that I was planning on leaving the town by 6:00am. He spoke English well and despite running an unorganized stall in the middle of a dark, claustrophobic market (you can picture it, right?) and a small feeling of unease, I left my phone with him asking him to fix it and said I would be back when requested, at 5:30pm.
I found a place for lunch, and perhaps giving the ok to go ahead before asking for the price cost me a buck (or two really) more than it should of, $3 for basic fried rice.
My mind was on my phone and I dropped into the stall after lunch to check in. I felt much better finding him working on it, phone in pieces, the 5:30pm collection time still standing.
I walked to the river and asked how much a coconut was “tur lie bon marn?”, “something something something” came the reply. Excellent. I nodded and took a seat.
I paid with a large note and got a little in change. Turned out I had agreed to pay $3 for a coconut juice. Right, must be a little more diligent. I hadn’t bothered much to date, most of the folk I’d met hadn’t taken advantage of me. My fault of course, not theirs. Mr. Turley and grade 12 economics came to mind. ‘Caveat emptor’, let the buyer beware. Indeed. It works out well as a memory aid for me. Not tur lee bon marn, instead tur lie bon marn.
I sat for another hour after paying reading my kindle, making the most of the setting.
Hotel. Then back to the phone shop before dinner. There was a problem. He couldn’t fix it. A new screen was required. The good news was the delivery of the required screen was coming tonight, at 7:00pm, and that it would only cost $50. He said he thought he could drop the phone off at my hotel by 8:00pm. Crumbs, I thought.
Dinner. Shower. Bags packed for early start. Down in the lobby by 7:30pm to read while I waited. At 9:30pm I’d had enough and decided to go to bed, consoling myself that an extra night to sort things out wouldn’t be a big deal. A knock on the door at 10:00pm and it’s him. A sigh of relief. I offer an extra $10 but he doesn’t take it.
Broken sleep thinking about the next day’s journey. 5:00am alarm and I’m up. It was dark.
The timer starts at 5:52am and I’m energised to be on the road so early. Beautiful to watch the sun rise, and a great morning of cycling with my first cloudy day, a big difference maker.
Now the road from Stung Treng is an interesting one. Built by the Chinese only a few years ago it has fallen apart about as fast as the plastic toys you got/give for Christmas. After 30kms of beautiful riding the surface turns to broken bitumen and dirt and you spend 60 of the next 90 kilometers with minivans, trucks and 4WDs tearing along at breakneck speed sending dust everywhere.
I really feel for the folk that live by the side of this road. Sure, it will be nice when it’s done but imagine having your home and roadside stall here. Not pleasant for them, and not inviting for passers by.
I stop and chat to some men doing roadworks. Chinese. They tell me that yesterday they laid this section (a kilometer??) only to test it today and find it wasn’t up to standard. So they were pulling it all up and trying again. Nice going fellas.
On a better section I flag down a motorbike carrying food. I hadn’t seen them until today and was curious what I might find. There were all sorts of goodies in plastic bags. I take some fried banana, fried something else, sticky rice and a rice-based desert, all for 200riel (50c).
I find my shortcut, shown here by the yellow line heading towards to river and am thankful I am on another road. It’s bumpy tarmac, but it’s better than gravel.
Instead of heading south I head north for 10kms to see the 108 column Wat Moi Roi. Being the Aussie that I am and remembering holidays as a child near Coffs Harbour’s big banana I couldn’t resist making he detour to see Cambodia’s biggest wat.
I took off my shoes and hat, made a small donation, sat on my legs with my toes pointing away from the Buddhas just like Moo had taught me, and said a prayer.
On the way to Kratie I visited a second wat, at Phnon Sombok, this time for the view. Too many big trees to see much of the Mekong but a nice view over the fields.
Stop for some rice paper rolls at a shop street-side (3 for 2000riel), then after inhaling them wave down a mobile vendor for another round (3 smaller ones for 1500riel).
Check into the fabulous Le Tongle guesthouse have a some more food, and the it’s to bed.
The day’s stats: 168km in 11 hours 16 minutes.