Sunday, July 29, 2018

Cycle Mekong Delta Day 3 Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh

The original plan was to cycle from Phnom Penh to Vietnam crossing the border with our bicycles but due to time constraint we have to take a bus. The express bus do not stop places in between the 2 cities hence we have to re-route our proposed exploration of Mekong Delta starting from Ho Chi Minh and will loop back to Ho Chi Minh.
We waited anxiously for the shuttle van to fetch us from the hotel to the the bus terminal.
The express bus we took was Giant Ibis from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh with 3 stops in between at US$18.00 per person. Ticket can be purchased online.
There was panic when we opened the lower compartment and saw that it was almost full. After a quick re-arranging of the luggage we were able to find space for our bicycles. We were charged additional US$5 for bicycle which we think it's an unofficial request and suspected that the money went to a third party. On the bright side the seat was comfortable with provision of power point and free wifi. 
Image may contain: 9 people, people smiling, people standing and indoor
Here we were in Giant Ibis bus for a 6 hour journey which has good reviews in the cyber world. The other alternative bus company is Mekong Express. Photo credit : Jotaro Zen
Goodbye Phnom Penh as the bus slowly moved out of the city for the highway.
A stop for toilet use at this petrol station called Tela Station somewhere in the vicinity of Prey Veng Province.
Image may contain: cloud, sky, bridge and outdoor
Passing by this 2km-long Neak Loeang bridge which was completed in April, 2015. It is the longest bridge in Cambodia. We were supposed to stay a night at Neak Loeang if we were to cycle instead of the bus journey.
As we approaches Bavet we could see many casinos along the highway which is located close to the international border gate between Cambodia and Vietnam.
Just like Las Vega and its outskirts with many casinos and apparently most of the patrons are from Vietnam. Bavet is the poorest province in Cambodia and these casinos have help to enhance its economy.
Crossing the border at Bavet Border Post with a beautiful building. We had to bring down our luggage including our bicycles to clear the the immigration and custom at Vietnam side. Some of us were equipped with foldable trolley which came in handy to maneuver the clearance.
Stop for a simple lunch at Prestige Duty Free shop within the building of Moc Bai International Border Checkpoint.
The bus stopped at Pham Ngu Lao also known as backpacker street in front of Liberty Hotel Ho Chi Minh. We spotted this corner to set up our bicycle,
We made a few enquires a couple  at the nearby hotels and decided to stay at Saigon Hotel 237 (also known as Hanh Hoa).
Image may contain: one or more people and text
We were recommended to have our dinner at Asiana Food Town located opposite where we were staying. It was a good recommendation with a variety of foods to choose including dessert and some convenient stores.
Our selection of Vietnamese food for the evening. We enjoyed the dinner with some sweet dessert.
At a comfortable and conducive atmosphere for a decent dinner.
A walkabout at Bui Vien Walking Street, a vibrant atmosphere and many entertainment outlets besides the pubs and eatery houses.
There are many interesting narrow alleys to be combed with many food outlets, hotels and entertainment joints found within this congested space.
Some of the scenes tucked at the narrow alleys of Bui Vien walking street. 
On the main section of the walking street.
The many entrances to these compact community via narrow alleys and houses are small with ladder to the upper floors and they are really compact. A good night for Day 3.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Cycle Mekong Delta Day 2 Explore Inner Phnom Penh

Good morning Angkor International Hotel which is located at 50 Street 148, Phnom Penh (GPS : 11.568992, 104.927453). Our plan of the day was to cycle to the inner Phnom Penh.
Yes breakfast is provided, let's eat and get ready for the day.
Psar Kandal Market is just a street away from our hotel with a variety of local produce and foods found in the market. We took a walk and a look see of the market, truly interesting and an eye opener for some of the stuff sold in the market. 
The trishaw has a peculiar tall seat, the rider in an almost standing position while pedalling it.
Another thing that attracted me was this hanging prayer alter, it is commonly seen irrespective in the town or in the rural areas.
At a corner of the street we saw these dark skin sugarcane stalks in bundles and leaning against the columns of the corner shop. I guess the seller is a whole seller.
An old shop house at the neighbourhood of Phsar Kandal market.
One for the album at Phsar Kandal Market.
It was time for us to be back on our saddles and head for the rural scene of Phnom Penh.
Joseph has been to Phnom Penh many times, he lead us to a jetty known as Phnom Penh - Areykhsath Ferry Dock to begin our route into kampong.
Our honorable Treasurer as usual was Sooi Ying, she will handle our common expenses and in Cambodia we have to transact mainly in US currency. So fares like this will be settled by her. It was a short crossing across Mekong River to the other side.
Image may contain: 1 person, bicycle, sky, outdoor and nature
Some stretches of the route was on earth roads, our Brompton bicycles are not only portable but also capable to ride on such dirt track. And we anticipated more of such challenging roads to come. 
Passing by a local market Areyksat Market or locally known as Phsar Areyksat located at GPS : 11.573610, 104.951143
Image may contain: one or more people, sky, outdoor and nature
Watch out for the cow she might be charging at those in red.
Image may contain: 8 people, including Victor Tan Seang Hin, Robert Cheong, Anne CK Cheong and Sin Tai Lim, people smiling, tree, outdoor and nature
The village folks were friendly and do not mind taking a picture with us. 
The village kids were happy to seeing us. How I wish I had some candies for them at that moment.
Motorbikes carrying big bundles of green produces overtaking us. The smell of the green was so pleasant so was the scenery.
Svaychroum Pagoda GPS : 11.595265, 104.952470 is the first temple we visited of the day.
We came across at least two monasteries found in the compound of the temples with young kids all in monk attire.
My Brompton matches the colour of their robes I guess my B ought be in the monastery.
A typical milestone of Cambodia seen as we rode on searching for a place for lunch in the commune of Prek Ta Kov.
After a short distance from our lunch place we arrived at this temple with prawn statues in front of it and it is known as Prek Bongkong Pagoda (GPS : 11.616161, 104.950609).
This reclining Buddha statue is also found inside the temple. 
After spending some time in Prek Bongkong Pagoda Joseph took us to another narrow dirt road which was supposedly leading to another river crossing.
I was impressed with Joseph we found the ferry dock and our adventure continued.
Another typical short river crossing with no proper jetty structure at all and with road that is naturally earthed.
Next to the ferry dock a herd of cows taking bath at the river side. The people was friendly waving to us as we alighted the ferry.
I like this scenic stretch of the route with a row of tall shady trees coupled with nice buildings.
Fenn noted a house with some weaving activities, we stopped by and ended buying some of its hand woven textiles.
This lady boss really knows how to handle her customers almost all of us brought at least a piece each from her.
While our buddies were busy negotiating with the lady boss I took a rest at the hammock.
It was about time to return to the city crossing a steel bridge as we pedaled our way to another ferry dock.
Our last ferry crossing for the day. There are so many such ferry services in this part of the world. We were hoping to get a transport to the city from this point.
From the last ferry dock we managed to get two tuktuk to fetch us and our bicycles to Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. The ride was pretty long and were glad to be in a tuktuk on a hot day.
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting and outdoor
Three passengers with three folded Brompton bicycles in a tuktuk comfortably seated to our next destination.
Toul Sleng Genocide Museum is one place that some wouldn't want to visit because the thousands of prisoners tortured and killed in this building during the Khmer Rouge regime.
A school that was converted into a torture camp, class room like this with cubicles forming tiny prison cells and some are of timber partition instead of brickwalls. There were also mass detention without partition at all within the class room. 
It was indeed creepy walking through the building and gathering information of the brutal action executed by the Khmer Rouge. It was estimated that nearly 2 million Cambodian were killed during this period between 1975 to 1979.
Even at the compound of prison it was used for torturing immates. So much of sad stories we continued our cycling to the Royal Palace of Cambodia.
We were late by the time we reached the Royal Palace of Cambodia it was closed. We could only view from the outside.
Wat Ounalom was established in 1443 and consists of 44 structures. It was damaged during the Khmer Rouge period but has since been restored. The main complex houses a stupa that contains what is believed to be an eyebrow hair of Buddha and an inscription in Pali. This is the most important wat in Phnom Penh and the centre of Cambodian Buddhism.
We were privileged at Wat Ounalom to have the monks specially open a sacred part of the temple for us to visit. This big ASEAN drum at the exit of the temple on the way out. This temple is very near to the Royal Palace of Cambodia. We were blessed with a wonderful weather despite the weather forecast was telling us otherwise.
Thank you so much to Joseph also known Jotaro Zen for showing Phnom Penh and its inner side of it. It was truly an experience cycling in this route.