We continue transmitting the chronicles of Matteo Tricarico’s new biking trip from Asia to America…
(This is the hundredth chronicle of this journey. Planned while I was on the island of Phu Quoc in Vietnam in August 2009, it was supposed to last no longer than ten months! If I had followed the original plan, I would never have written 100 chronicles making my life so public. Thank you to you all, my readers. I apologize if I bored you or, if you enjoyed reading my travel stories, please continue to follow me, encouraging me to write more of them. I am sure that over the next two years we will have even more fun …)
On 17 February 2012 in the morning, with a day of delay from the timetable that was further elongated, Marta and I cycled heading north inland, moving away from the Gulf of Siam. Just after the Elephant’s hills, we met another couple of cyclists from Australia who were going in the opposite direction and we stopped to chat with them exchanging some information about ourselves and the respective routes. This is a fundamental rule of a cycle-tourist good etiquette: always stop to chat and socialize with other fellow cyclists, with whom one shares the same passion for slow pace travelling; members of the same small club of bicycle wanderers literately treading every inch of the Earth.
The next day, Marta experienced her first tropical storm, so heavy that we had to seek shelter under a farmhouse roof. The same day we reached the Cambodian capital at night in the dark and stayed there for two days. On February the 20th, after visiting the Royal Palace and some pagodas, we cycled along the east coast of Asia’s largest lake, the Tonle Sap, reaching the village of Phumi Kreul. Here we met one of the school teachers, who we followed the next day to visit his class of students. There we sat for an hour with young pupils talking to them and answering their questions. In Kompong Thom we spent the night in a beautiful resort on stilts on the lake banks, sleeping under a mosquito net to protect us from clouds of insects attracted by lamp, with croaking frogs as a lullaby. After crossing the Cardamom mountains and the coastline lush jungle, Marta was surprised to see a perfectly flat, arid and dry area. In fact, at this time of the year the majority of Cambodian land is bleak and yellow. It is a landscape where only the green is the palm trees Aranca Pinnata with their round foliage. They look like balloons tied to a thin wire preventing them to fly away. The next day we were in Siem Reap where, in a life that feels like a “previous” one, I used to work for one and a half year.
This is another place in South-East Asia where I feel at home, not just because I lived there but, especially, for the friends that I still have. My ex-staff of ASCO Travel gave me a warm and touching welcome organising a nice dinner attended by most of them. I also met up with Ratha and Oliver, dear friends I knew outside the professional environment. For a whole day we cycled around the majestic ruins of Angkor temples. I took Marta on the massive walls of the citadel, Angkor Thom, where no tourists ever go, and the monkeys jump from tree to tree scared not being used to human presence in that part the forest.
(To be Continued)