Shadow addicted

Shadow addicted

Suddenly, on arrival in Bangkok, I realized that it would be over with Velowegen from now on. The traffic chaos here in the capital has not changed much since my last visit 5 years ago.

My desire for warmer temperatures was not only met but surpassed several times. The tropical heat almost drained my breath as I stepped out of the air-conditioned airport.

Just outside the city center, in Bang Kapi, I found a hostel especially for cyclists, which even has its own workshop. It is run by a young couple who are also ambitious cyclists

I liked the hostel so much that I spent 10 days there. This gave me a little time to acclimatise and plan. Heavy laden, I drove off to the Cambodian border.

The infrastructure here in Thailand has definitely improved in recent years. Most of the time, I set up my tent in a rubber tree plantation. The owners often gave me a smile when they saw me.

Today, due to its favorable climate and fertile soil, Thailand is by far the # 1 producer and exporter of rubber worldwide (over 3 billion tonnes of rubber per year).

Although rubber can also be synthetically produced today, natural rubber has been used more frequently in recent years - raw material prices for synthetic rubber are now simply too high.

I deliberately chose a route off the busy main roads. Again, there is still a lot of traffic but at least not that many trucks, which makes cycling a lot more enjoyable.

After 4 days I reached the border crossing Prom to Cambodia. The customs formalities lasted a while, but at least I got a 30-day visa and had a positive surprise:

Anne and Pierre with their 9-month-old daughter Maely arrived at the border post at the same time as I did. Anne and Pierre cycled from France in April 2015 with their tandem. At the beginning of 2017, Maely saw the light of day in Nepal

Since then, some things have changed in their travel routine. The tandem has been turned into a vehicle that steers Pierre and Anne has her own bicycle in Malaysia.

We cycled together to Pailin, where we spent our first night in Cambodia in a Buddhist temple. The monks even gave us a good deal of water to say goodbye.

The next morning we drove together to Treng. Anne and Pierre also love the mountains. They wanted as fast as possible into the cardamom mountains (Chuor Phnom Krâvanh). However, I planned to get a Vietnam Visa in Battambang beforehand.

So we parted soon and I moved on alone. Unfortunately, I did not like it at all in Battambang when I got there. Therefore, I fled to a temple and immediately buried my Vietnam visa project again.

Even at night, temperatures hardly fall below 30 ° C here in Southeast Asia. During the day it will be 38 ° C pretty soon. The early morning hours I found the most pleasant to cycle and was therefore already at 5:30 clock on, half an hour before sunrise.

Traffic on National Highway Number 5 almost reminded me of India. Therefore, I was quite happy when I was finally able to branch off into the Kardamom Mountains in Pursat. To Veal Veaeng the road was still paved. After that, the streets became real dust and mud tracks.

Luckily I had already gained a lot of experience with such roads in Africa and was therefore not so surprised. The forest of the cardamom mountains is one of the last intact rainforest areas of Southeast Asia.

Several times I had to dismount and push Dusty (my bike) up the steep mountainsides. Most of the time, I stayed in the bush just outside the road. An insect enjoyed my visit to the rainforest: the bees.

The critters drove me to madness. In the morning, mostly only the escape by bike helped to shake off the annoyances. Pure psychoterror! In return, I was rewarded with a beautiful rainforest.

Little traffic, a lot of nature and permanent animal sounds. These places are balm for the soul. Unfortunately, there are not many on our planet. The heat bothered me a lot. Finally, I stayed in the tent 3 weeks ago at -5 ° C in South Korea.

My daily motto therefore focused on two things: drinking water and shade. I needed almost 8 liters of water due to the high humidity and every single piece of shade was a blessing for me. Is there a remedy for shadow addiction?

In Osoam I branched off to Koh Kong in a southerly direction. My chosen route was not properly drawn on any map and since I travel without a smartphone I usually had to ask the locals for directions. What I prefer, you get in contact faster with people.

The rainforest of the Cardamom Mountains is, among other habitat Indochinese tiger and the smaller Malaysia tiger, the cloud leopard, the Siam crocodile, the Malay bear and cap gibbon. More than 250 species of birds live in the forests of the mountains.

Unfortunately, China has helped to realize a major dam project in recent years. These interventions have flooded an important habitat of endangered species. On the 120 kilometer long route from Osoam to Koh Kong I passed 4 such dams.

To find these concrete monsters in one of the last intact rainforests of Southeast Asia is extremely depressing. The sensitive and species-rich ecosystem of the cardamom mountains may also be endangered by a planned, up to 20,000 hectares, titanium open pit mining.

In Koh Kong I was very happy to be able to increase my food supply. For vegetarians it is not always easy to find something edible.

Actually, I was looking forward to a flat route to the many mountains. However, the route 48 from Koh Kong to Sre Ambel has it all in itself. At least the many slopes were paved, so I could drive almost everything.

On the way I met some cyclists. Knowing, not to be the only idiot who bobs up these steep streets on such heat encouraged me a lot. Mostly we talked for a while and then fled in different directions from the sun.

In Sre Ambel I then branched off on the National Highway number 4. The cyclists I met warned me about this road. Virtually all heavy traffic between Shianoukville and Phnom Penh goes through here.

The big problem with the whole story is the narrow street. The asphalt strip offers just enough space for two trucks to cross. At least there is a gravel strip on both sides.

The temperament of the drivers usually increases with the heat. The overtaking maneuvers became more daring throughout the day. Not really my taste. The section between Sre Ambel and Kampong Speu I baptized and would not recommend it to a cyclist.

So I pedaled the last 150 kilometers of my stage virtually majority on the gravel. After 14 days I finally reached Phnom Penh. I've never liked the capital of the country very much.

After 2 weeks in the saddle I was only interested in one thing: a refreshing shower. Here in Phnom Penh I have to extend my visa. This takes over a week. The Cambodian authorities do not seem to be the fastest.

I am especially looking forward to my mother's visit in mid-December to show her this great and enormously interesting country.