We didn’t know much about Cambodia when we arrived, but that changed quickly thanks to our hosts and we were able to see some of the most amazing ruins in the world, take part in mountain bikes races through the rice fields, enjoy the peaceful coast and learn of their tragic recent history.
Our fist stop was Siam Reap, where we were hosted by Seyha, a really nice and helpful man who organized tours by bike. Thanks to him we visited the temples around Angkor Wat through the small jungle paths. These buildings are among the most beautiful ones I’ve ever seen and going from one to the other was lots of fun.
The temples of Angkor is a complex of temples that was forgotten for centuries and when rediscovered nature had already started reclaiming the territory. Some people state than a visit to Southeast Asia is not complete if you don’t come here. And indeed it’s really impressive to walk around 11th – 13th century temples with huge trees growing on top.
In that town some of the days we were hosted by Vanessa, a french woman who lives and works there. Both her and her son speak spanish and it was nice to change back to “normality” for a couple nights. We even ate european style salad! I didn’t know I missed vinegar so much!
Thanks to Vanessa Javi and Goiznabar went to the opening of a new bug restaurant were they tried fried grasshoppers, tarantula and spinach pizza, red ant spring rolls and scorpion barbecue.
From there we went straight to Phnom Penh, the capital of this country. Four days cycling, of which exactly half was a really nice road, and the second part the worst road I’ve seen, not only in this trip, but ever!
Despite the condition of the road it was fun. Cambodia is exactly what you expect of Southeast Asia. Palm trees, rice fields, bad roads, lots of mosquitoes … and lots of friendly and smiley people! Almost every kid waved at us and screamed: hello! It’s a really happy place to cross by bike!
On the first night on the road we slept and a buddhist monastery. That time we were not sure if they were going to let us sleep there, but then we learned that they never turn anyone down. So if there is a pagoda, we have a place to sleep!
Phnom Penn is a huge chaotic city. Luckily we had an amazing host: Karen. She helped us in everything we needed and even hosted longer than initially planned. Hopefully we meet again in Lao!
Apart from walking around, probably the most interesting thing is the former Khmer Rouge prison. In this place you can learn about the tragic years when this group was in power. They basically got rid of the education system and killed almost a fourth of the population. Even if it’s quite tough, this museum is worth.
On the weekend there was a mountain bike race in a small town 60 km away from Phnom Penh, Karen was taking part, and we had no doubt about it, we wanted to race too! Luckily we could sign in on the last moment as well as rent proper mountain bikes. There was no way we were going to race with our babys!
Javi decided not to come so it was only Goiznabar and me racing. It was great! The scenery was incomparable. Half of the race was through rice fields! It was my first mountain bike race (actually mountain biking in general), and I liked it lots, even if I had a flat tire and Goiznabar beat me by several minutes … Still 7th and 8th place out of 21 I think it’s a great result!
From there we went to the coast, to rest a few days before our visits came to Vietnam. So we said our goodbyes and each enjoyed the beach for a few days on our own before picking up our girlfriends and families, at different dates, at Vietnams biggest city, Ho Chi Minh