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Putting in the miles

August 1st, 2008 leave a comment


139km Chamkar Luong to Phnom Penh

Another day, another long haul on the bikes. We aren’t sure where we’re getting all our energy from lately but we seem to be able to put in the kilometers and still have enough get-up-and-go to walk around in the evenings. Maybe it’s all the flat terrain or maybe it was just the desire to be somewhere interesting after looking at the outside of a dilapidated guesthouse some way from Phnom Penh. We probably could have gotten a room there for $5 U.S. but instead we pushed on into the capital.

Once settled, we treated ourselves to a supper of that old British favourite Bangers & Mash for Andrew and a hamburger and fries for Friedel. This is the first time in our two year journey that we really find ourselves craving home comfort food and it’s killing our budget. A meal in a restaurant usually runs us $13 U.S. dollars. We don’t know why always $13 U.S. but that’s the figure we seem to keep coming up with. It’s not a lot compared with home but when you’re trying to travel on the cheap it’s more than enough and that’s just one meal a day.

On the street we can eat for less than a dollar each but the food is pretty uninteresting and sometimes downright unappealing. Unlike in Thailand, where street food costs just about the same amount, here in Cambodia very little is freshly cooked. Usually we find someone who has a series of pots on a table and we play ‘peek under the lid’ and choose something that looks okay. Today that was pork and zucchini, which was fine until we also discovered a bit of liver thrown in for fun and some unidentifiable meat which looked kind of like a bellybutton. Do pigs have bellybuttons? Well, if they do they’re chewy and not all that good. Then a worm wiggled its way out of Friedel’s rice and that was the end to another typical meal on the road in Cambodia. To be fair we’ve never found a worm in our food before and despite eating almost entirely from street stalls we’ve not been sick but the meals are not living up to scratch generally. The iced coffee at least provided some much needed sugar.

That’s a trend we’ve noticed here: the Cambodians do drinks much better than they do food. The iced coffees, freshly pressed sugar cane juice and tukaluks – mixed fruits whizzed up with ice in a blender – have all been lapped up several times a day. Overall though we are looking forward to Lao where apparently the eating is much better.

Now we’ve got a few days in Phnom Penh to get a Thai visa (we need a 60 day one instead of the standard 30 day visa issued at the border) and fix a few things that have broken recently. Top of the list is Andrew’s bike frame. We discovered a crack in it this morning and we’re really hoping it’s something a welder can fix and that will hold up for another 20,000km or so. We don’t have any experience of these things so we don’t know if it’s a minor fix or the beginning of the end for his trusty steed. Then there’s one of Friedel’s shoes which has a large hole in need of filling and Andrew’s pannier which needs a buckle replaced on it. That should keep the local tailors busy. And we wouldn’t mind doing some sightseeing in Phnom Penh since we didn’t do any last time. Finally, there’s always heaps of things to do on the website. We might not be working but the ‘to do’ list is never lacking.

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