Welcome to Cambodia – FAIL, Let’s Try That Again Eh!
Posted by TravellingStrom on January 25, 2013
As I had relaxed for most of yesterday, but using that time to study the Cambodian border crossings and Geocaches, it meant I had an early start today After packing and slipping down to the Tesco Lotus for some pastries to eat for brekky and for on the go, I headed east and north, my first destination as mentioned yesterday, is this Geocache Prasat Si Khoraphum (Isaan- Surin Province) which is located near the town of Sikhoraphum, you can see it to the top left on this map The reason the direction arrows show away from here is because I had to back track a ways.
This cache was 100km from Khun Kan, and then a return to the border, a big diversion, but no worries to me. So, I headed off and started to look for a decent servo, so I could fuel up. I also needed more cash so an ATM would be good as well. I did find a Shell where I fuelled up and did some repairs.
Yesterday, when I had ridden to the temple, I had noticed the bike making clunking noises from the chain and sprocket area, but I forgot to attend to it then Today I noticed it a lot, I could hear it with helmet and ear plugs and I could feel it through my arse. I used my oiler remote to push out extra oil but when I stopped at the servo I saw I had a dry chain For some reason the Pro-oiler was not working. I checked all the connections, all good, then remembered from Vientiane, when the oiler is not used for a while the pump can get stuck, so the manual says wack it with a screwdriver, and after a few wacks, it was back up and working again, you bewdy
Now, I had stayed in Kanchanaburi for 5 days without running the bike, so that would most likely be the cause. Because I have not really become used to this issue, I failed to test the system prior to leaving, so that meant I ran the whole day, 655km with a drying chain. As soon as I left, I started to boost some extra oil onto the chain to get it wet quickly and within a minute it was amazing how quiet and normal the whole bike sounded, mystery solved and something to keep an eye on, if I stay for extended periods. I did email Arnold from Pro-Oiler and will probably get a reply next week, just in case I have a failing pump, but the screwdriver works
So I arrived at the Wat around 09.30 and proceeded to pay the 50Baht entry fee and started to look for the cache. The Wat is very old and abandoned mostly, but I did see offerings inside the centre tower and there were some interesting carvings that were still intact.
I could see most of the towers had a lean to them, maybe seepage over time from the surrounding horseshoe lake has softened the ground?
The cache hide location was easy to find from the description, but sadly it was still missing. The cache had been placed late last year, two previous players had attempted it but could not find it and all I did was confirm it was missing The cache owner had mentioned mid December he would check it, but obviously not. I ended up posting a note to the log, rather than a Did Not Find, as if it had been there it would have been found. DNFs are for those where you have no idea where the heck it could be!
Oh well, not a good start to the day, but I made the attempt and was happy to do so. So, now for Cambodia, to do this I was going to attempt the closest border crossing which was the Sangam/Choam border point. GPS- N14.34588 E104.05850 It is the one on the right in the following map and to show its broader location, in relation to Bangkok is another map, thanks to Phil from RideAsia.net where I posted this detailed border crossing description. Foreign Motorbike Refused Entry at Choam/Sangam Border but OK at Chong Jom/O’Smarch I am going to repeat it here, in case that site goes down and I want a record on mine anyway, cos I did the hard yards,
So I headed back and found an ATM in one of the towns I went through before getting back onto the main highway 24, then I turned south on the 4001 which was nicely paved. The road on my GPS was highlighted as a main road, but at the junction with the 2328, my GPS told me I was now on a dirt road and then in the middle of nowhere for the next 30km, in actual fact I was on a very good bit of tarmac!
I arrived at the border point around 11am, pretty much as planned
Sangam/Choam border point. GPS- N14.34588 E104.05850
This is the view of the Thai Immigration and Customs building on the left
I was processed through immigration on the Thai side, departure paper removed and passport stamped out. Then when I mentioned the bike paperwork(Australian registration), they told me to go up the road 100m and ask the Cambodian Customs people
When I arrived there, in the boiling hot sun mind you late morning, the immigration man said he could stamp me in no worries(I had a visa already from Vientiane Embassy, but visas are available here on arrival), but the customs chap would not allow the bike in because he did not have the correct paperwork available to process a foreign bike. I did not ask about Thai bikes. I begged and pleaded to no avail. I know somebody told me maybe it is possible to just ride through without worrying about paperwork, but at this border, the traffic was slow and there would be no way to sneak past. They told me to go east to the next border point and I should be allowed to cross there.
So I head back up the 4001 and at the military checkpoint(where the guys smiled and laughed, I just smiled and shrugged) I headed east on the 2328 and where it meets the 214 I headed south, note, there are NO signposts telling you to go south to Cambodia, I just happened to ask a local scoot man and he said Chong Jom that way, and a few hundred meters down the road, the distance sign confirmed the direction. There was a sign just before the intersection saying Chongchom to the left, so unless you know the border name and can recognise it it would be easy to go straight ahead and end up Prasat.
Once at the next border point, about 15km, it looks a lot busier
Chong Jom/O’Smarch Border GPS- N14.43549 E103.70040
The immigration building is to the left.
And the customs is to the right
Once I have explained the cancellation of my passport stamps, I get restamped out and am allowed to proceed. (Just a quick mention here. My original departure paper was stamped and removed from my passport at the previous border post. I did not notice that the stamp on the paper had been cancelled and restapled back into my passport by the very helpful Thai chap in immigration back there. Lucky for me as I may have been asked to return for it!!?) I go across to the customs who stamp and take my TVIP, all as normal.
I then proceed into the Cambodian side, the visa on arrival building is just to the left next to the resort entrance, while across the road on the right is the immigration building.
The customs huts are down the road about 300m and about 100m before the final security checkpoint.
I had parked under the big archway, in the shade and the very nice security chap spoke English and told me to go back up to the huts. I took my paperwork, the guys here were all sitting in the shade out behind the buildings, no uniforms that I could see, nor name badges. One chap looked at my paperwork(my rego is copied and laminated but is now out of date since 24 dec 2012), he told me to be on my way, and that was it, I was now allowed to ride in Cambodia!!! But, I am now back to rising on the right again
I am not sure what happens if I get asked for anything by the cops, but I will act dumb and see what happens if and when I need to
So, I head off, my next destination is Siem Reap, a large town about 150km away. Lucky I have learnt patience, because my GPS gave me a route error. I had entered in the Home Sweet Home Guest House which had got good reviews, but for some reason the GPS did not like it
I was a bit annoyed but started to ride anyway, I mean how many roads do they have here and this one should be sign posted all the way.
I kept on riding for about 40kms until I reached the first largish town. I was starving, it was now after 2pm, and I had had no lunch yet with the border muck around. But, I had no local dosh so I stopped here at an ATM but failed to get money out, it was Visa only and I only have Mastercard, another mistake on my part not getting two styles of cards The bank Johnny that came out said Mastercard available in Siem Reap, but I could exchange cash here in the bank, so I swapped out some Baht for some Cambodian Riels and then managed to procure a SIM card and some lunch, with some expert help from the girl and her dad who owned the cafe I gave her a Koala Bear as thanks
I had a chook and rice dish, quite standard around here and although small, it filled a part of the hole
While there I stared to play with the GPS and tried a different way point, this one was another guest house called the Earthwalkers, it also had good reviews but was a bit further from the main part of town, but closer to me along the same highway. Well, root me boot, it popped up with a route, well that was real strange, the two places were only a few kms away from each other and accessed via the same highway? I could sort that out later, but for now I had a purple line to follow which meant I was probably not lost I actually thought the GPS map was faulty and had some data missing which has happened before, but they were on different sides of a river, so that may be the cause too.
After lunch it was a fast and pretty much flat and straight run to Siem Reap, and only took an hour or so until I entered the city outskirts.
As I negotiated the crazy traffic and narrow road through town I went past the Earthwalkers and decided to see if I could find the other place and as it happens, as I rode up to the bridge I found out exactly why the GPS had problems, the highway suddenly stopped being a two way highway and the road was now a one way system coming from the other direction????? You can see from this movie I had no choice but to turn right, and then the following map shows my track to find the Home Sweet Home GH with no issues, the GPS even knew the friggin way, so why give me a no route error, stupid device!!!!!
So, I arrived at the Home Sweet Home Guest House GPS – N13.35925 E103.86187 and they had rooms, I chose the twin double with aircon, $15/night cheap as chips
After a refreshing shower I grabbed a coke and met some people out front in the lounging area. I Went for a wander to see what was around to eat, and eventually ended up next door with a smoked pork baguette, very nice and filling.
I returned to the guest house where I had some new beers, as you do, and met some other bikers who were using rental scoots to travel around and a family who had been here a few days from Canada and we had some beers together This is Graham from the US who is taking around a log book for some riders who have died prematurely and some dog tags. I have to admit I was a bit flummoxed by this, but was happy to oblige with a few photos
And this is Alicia, her dad and girlfriend, safe travels you guys
So, I had a few beers and more beers, but as they closed the bar early around 10 it was not a real head banger Not bad for my first night in Cambodia though
Cheers from Siem Reap, Cambodia