Archives for August 2013

Cross Country on Two Wheels-Roadtrip Across Cambodia

On the last few trips it’s become a sort of unintentional tradition to rent a motorbike and take a road trip (you can check out our one in the Philippines and Thailand). So it was a no brainer to do the same and make a roadtrip across Cambodia. We love it because not only it is a cheaper method of transportation versus taxis or tuk tuks since it’s less than $10 a day for a rental, but I feel like we are also able to see parts of the country that would have whizzed by the bus window.

Road Trip Across Cambodia
 In total we rode over 900 km (that’s 560 miles for you USers), or the width of Cambodia and almost back again and I have the bruises on my butt to prove it. We went through cities and back country roads where the farmers were steering their ox through the rice paddies. We drove through the blazing heat, dusty roads and pouring down rain. We met farmers, school children, business owners and our guardian angel; a stranger who drove slowly in front of us with their hazards on so we could see the road through the downpour of rain. But no matter where we traveled, we were always met with smiling faces and inquisitive looks. Even though it was a long ride, I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

Here are some little tid bits from our 13+ hours on the open road:

Our first pit stop was to get gas at a small family owned service station. The girls in the top picture were selling mango and salt (an interesting combination for sure) while the boys helped their father with the station. The man sitting below had worked for ten years at a hotel in Phnom Penh in order to buy this gas station. And you’ll notice that on the gas pump they have a handle they have to crank in order to get the gas from the barrel, up into the glass container, then through the house and into the vehicle.
Gas Station Cambodia
Some of the other gorgeous views along the way.
Cambodian Countryside
Cambodian Rice Fields
This is another one of our many pit stops where we found children swimming through lily pads and collecting lotus pods to sell and eat.
Cambodian Children

Motor Bike Cambodia

We often had ‘road blocks’. Luckily this was only one cow but there were times when we had to sit and wait for a group of them to get up and move out of the way before we could keep going.

cambodian cow

On one of our last stops we went by an area where all of the houses and buildings were up on stilts. Certain areas can actually flood so much during rainy season that the water actually reaches the bottom of these buildings.

House on Stilts in Cambodia

Along the same route we found a hammock restaurant on stilts and decided to take a break and enjoy the view. Plus, who can say no to hammocks and a cold drink?
Hammock Restaurant in Cambodia

I just couldn’t resist putting some pictures of cows in Cambodia because they may just be my new favorite animal.
Cambodian Cow
cambodian cow

On our way back from Siem Reap to Phnom Pehn, we left at 4:30 in the morning (definitely not my idea) in order to beat some of the city traffic and also the scorching heat that sets in late morning. Thankfully the views made it well worth it.

Sunset in Cambodia
bike ride across cambodia

Even though the trip was a blast and I would recommend it to anyone traveling to Southeast Asia, there are some things that made it a whole lot easier on us, and some things that we wish we would have known:

-It goes without saying that you need a lot of cushion. On the way back I was tempted to go try and find those butt inserts to make the ride a little better. Instead we folded some of our clothes in bags and sat on those instead.
-Cover up! Even though it may not feel hot when you’re riding and you can feel the wind, you’re getting a lot more sun that you think you are.
-Have a water proof option. We rode during the rainy season and thankfully only got caught in the rain once. We covered all of our bags in trash bags to protect them from getting wet.
-Get an international license. We’ve never been asked to show ours in the countries that we have rented but it doesn’t hurt to have this extra precaution.
-We bought kramas (traditional Cambodian scarves) before we hit the road. A lot of the roads we went on weren’t paved so there was a lot of dirt and dust that we would have been breathing in if we didn’t have these scarves. Anytime we stopped, we got funny looks because of how dirty our faces were in the areas the scarf didn’t cover.

The ‘Venice of China’-Zhujiajiao Shanghai

We spent just enough time in Shanghai (specifically Zhujiajiao Shanghai) to qualify as ‘visiting Shanghai’. Actually, even that’s questionable. We had a ten hour layover on our way to Cambodia so we decided to try our luck with the rumored 72 hour layover visa to make it to the area of Zhujiajio Shanghai. You see, to get into China, we usually have to fill out paper work in advance for a $200 visitor’s visa. Ouch. BUT, if you have a connecting flight within 72 hours, you can get in for free. Umm…do you even have to ask? I really thought that it would take more work to get in but all we had to show was a copy of our itinerary. It was so easy, that as I heard the stamp hit our passport, I felt like we were sneaking into the country.
Zhujiajiao area in Shanghai feels like a Venice getaway
We knew that with only 10 hours inside the city, we really wouldn’t have as much time as we wanted. So we decided to narrow down what we wanted to do to just the Zhujiajiao Shanghai area, a region which we were told was just a short hour ride outside of the city. Well it may have taken just an hour if you didn’t start from the airport and if you took the right bus (I guess that last part was our mistake. Make sure you grab the bright pink buses for the express!) But since it took us an hour from the airport to the city, then another two hours because we took the wrong bus, it ended up taking a solid three hours to reach our destination. But man, was it worth it. Even though this area is a known tourist attraction for both foreigners and Chinese, it was well worth a visit.
Zhujiajiao shanghai
Called ‘The Venice of China’ for its sprawling canals and traditional boats floating along it,  Zhujiajiao Shanghai made you feel as though you stepped back in time. We had a blast looking through the souvenir shops and getting lost in the vast network of teensy alley ways. It’s a place I really want to visit again because by the time we got there, we only had an hour and a half before we had to head right back to the airport again. It was the closest we’ve ever been to missing our flight because by the time we got to our gate, it was already boarding! Although I’m glad we made it on our flight to Cambodia, the side trip to Zhujiajiao was well worth the rush. 
Zhujiajiao shanghai
Zhujiajiao shanghai

Zhujiajiao shanghai

Zhujiajiao shanghai