The week with Pteah Baitong (3rd week of July) went on wonderfully. We were able to film appropriately, but also to get involved in the installation of the solar panels. The presentation video we made will soon be ready!
We returned to Phnom Penh to spend the weekend in a hotel with pool, just the once will not hurt! We found the city of Phnom Penh relatively quiet especially after the turmoil of Vietnam. The two countries have in common the fact that they suffered a lot from the wars, we did not miss the visit of the memorial of the victims of the Khmer Rouge regime. They organized a terrible genocide during the 1970s, in the name of an extremist communist doctrine. Fortunately, all these misfortunes belong to the past, and the Cambodian people now seem vigorous and determined to rise.
At the beginning of the week we were ready to take the road in the direction of Siem Reap, in order to visit the famous temples of Angkor. We crossed the Cambodian countryside for three days. The road is lined with small villages, farms, shops and majestic temples. It is with a little bit of nerve that we asked to be hosted in one of them one evening, with success! Some young monks studied English and showed a lot of interest in our culture, our photos and more amazing, our smartphones! We all live at the same era. The morning awakening to the sound of the mantras was in any case very bewitching. After having efficiently cycled the 330 km, we were ready for the visit on the next day.
Siem Reap is a dynamic city. Famous for its temples, it also presents a beautiful day and night life. During our visit to Bagan,(Myanmar) we had the opportunity to visit these monumental constructions of another time, Angkor has a very different style though. Unlike its Burmese cousin, this site, dating back to the 12th century, is set in a tropical atmosphere, where animals and trees invest the ruins. The extent of the site, once erected as capital, demonstrates the importance of the Khmer Empire, which dominated the region from Myanmar to Vietnam. The latter, sometimes well renovated, present a multitude of frescos and sculptures, vectors of history. It is sometimes necessary to climb an impressive number of steps to reach the summit of a temple, one can say that the Khmer going to the religious office were damned motivated. The bike is perfect for visiting the site, we took the opportunity to film some runs in front of the temples, an unforgettable moment! The visit to the temples of Angkor ended our brief Cambodian crossing. We will remember this very good experience and these strong and friendly people.
At this point, our heads are turning to the west towards Thailand and its long awaited paradise islands. We left the country at the beginning of May after the visit of the north. Bangkok seemed to be a real mess for our bikes, we then chose to avoid the capital to head to Pattaya instead, where a boat would allow us to cross the Gulf of Thailand. Just like the capital, Pattaya is a very touristic city, famous for the sex tourism. It is even informally known as its world capital city. We spent an evening on the main street, slaloming between the pole dance bars and the enticing proposals of the escort girls. A very strange atmosphere.
The next day the boat will take us to Hua Hin. We will then have the opportunity to camp 3 times straight (much to Leo’s relief!). The cloudy and rainy weather at this time of the year finally makes cycling very enjoyable, it is easy to ride all day.
The second day we will meet Scott, a retired American gone for… 5 years of a cycling trip! Scott was a caregiver in a palliative care center in the United States, which put him in touch with many people at the end of their life, some of them full of regret. This convinced him to concretize his project. We chatted all day long while cycling, to fully enjoy the company of our only real colleague of the trip! Unlike us and our minimalist equipment, Scott does not hesitate to carry more, and he has more than one trick in his luggage of… 42 kg !! The bicycle looks like one of those big Harley Davidson. Impressive. Good ride mon ami!
At the end of this bicycle journey, we took the boat to Koh Tao. This island has everything from the « postcard » place. No wonder why some of you will receive one from here 😉 Koh Tao is famous for the practice of scuba diving, the site is particularly well protected and preserved. We will spend our Open Water (first level of diving providing autonomy up to 18 m in the SSI system). We had the chance to do the training in French with Amelie of the French Kiss Divers, it was much more comfortable because the theoretical part is quite consistent and you have to understand everything. Stéphane will take advantage of it to pass the Advance Aventurer, to push the experience a little up to 30 m, a long-time wish! The seabed is sublime and we will see a wide range of flora (corals of all shapes, algae …) and wildlife (barracuda, grouper hunting, black tip shark for the most impressive). Leo loved the Open Water experience, but he likes to keep his feet on the ground. He took the opportunity to make beautiful hikes in this paradise on earth. One of the outings with the bike will remain engraved in the memory, the heart had to hold in the climbs of… 30%! Time passes quickly here, already 1 week but we must leave because Malaysia is waiting for us. This country promises a gradual return to the mountain in the center, the crossing of the jungle, and a Muslim culture that will surely surprise us. It is definitely time to go back on adventures for this last part of the trip!