Cycling in Cambodia: Kampot to Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Samloem
I was awake before sunrise with a heavy head. As the sun rose I was pedalling out of Kampot munching on a baguette I’d bought the previous day.
My plan was to ride west out of the city towards Prey Nob, then out to Sihanoukville on the coast. I’d heard that Sihanoukville wasn’t a particularly nice place so I would hopefully reach there in time to make the 3pm ferry to Koh Rong or Koh Rong Samloen (the link to my route is here: https://www.strava.com/activities/779300053).
I was soon joined on the road by countless schoolchildren, making (what I thought) their hazardous trip along the highway to school. This was definitely a highlight of my days and another good reason to begin cycling early.
A couple of boys decided to chase me down and we were soon laughing at each other as they whizzed on behind.
By around 8am I was getting peckish and the sun was down blazing down. I spotted a lovely looking riverside restaurant so dropped in for egg fried rice for my second breakfast. Knowing very little of the Khmer language, I struggled to explain that I’d like eggs. Using my tried and tested methods, I was soon making an absolute prat of myself pretending to be a chicken and pointing at my arse. It worked and brightened up the young waitresses day I’m sure.
It really was a beautiful spot with a good breeze overlooking the river. Two fishermen floated by on their canoe as I ate.
I’d been chatting with Luc, the French tourer I’d met in Kampot on Whatsapp about the route which he had already made.
“There is an ‘ill” he told me. Sure enough, just past Sihanoukville airport, this sign confirmed my first hill of the trip.
It was a long but gradual climb but in the midday sun really sapped the energy out of me. There were in fact two climbs, and I covered in few kilometres more ascent than in the previous six days ride.
I’d bought some incredibly sweet doughnuts previously in the day (covered in sugar and filled with some sort of sticky paste), so pulled over on the outskirts of Sihanoukville to replenish some energy reserves.
I was soon buying a ferry ticket in the tourist information booth, I didn’t really want to stay in Sihanoukville as I’d been told it’s quite seedy. The real reason I’d decided to visit the town was to get a ferry over to Koh Rong Samloen, an island 30km off the shore. I paid $10 was told that my bike would cost an extra $5 on the boat,
After coffee and an omelette next to the pier, I wheeled my bike down to the boat for the 3pm departure. I was told to go around to the back of the boat where I passed over my four pannier bags then nervously handed my bike to the crew. This was all over the sea below as there was no walkway, one slip and my bike would be gone forever!
The boat soon docked at the end of the pier on Koh Rong Samloen, my bike was passed yet again over the water then I walked along the beach to my accommodation for the evening – a tent!
Having asked in the tourist information kiosk about accommodation, I was told there was nothing available for anything under $30. I took a look online and found a place that had camping for $6. Dolphin Bay was a series of shacks and a bar/restaurant directly on the beach. My tent had already been pitched on a reed-roofed platform behind a line of mangroves.
Inside the tent I was told was a mattress and blankets, but I chose to use my own Thermarest as their mattress looked a lot like a blanket. The tent was too short for me, so I opted to sleep diagonally.
Weed was the order of the day and night at this place. A group of Israelis, some French, some Malaysian girls and a few Aussies sat smoking for the remainder of the day and evening, which made conversations somewhat difficult.
I swam in the sea then sat reading with sand under my feet, beer in hand, as the sun dipped down to a Toots & The Maytalls soundtrack. A great end to the day.