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Archive for February 12th, 2013

Out and About Hunting Caches Around Phnom Penh

Posted by TravellingStrom on February 12, 2013

I know some people out there are not interested in Geocaching and have emailed me or commented on it in the past, well this is what I do so live with it, you might as well skip today’s post then 😉

I had a big day planned, I wanted to cover at least 4 Geocaches in the west and north or Phnom Penh. There was also one that had been missing for two years, I had a spare small container and I decided time permitting, I would replace that cache if the area was suitable. If you view the following map of my tracks for the day, you can see I did a big loop ride. I actually back tracked from the one at bottom left to the top of the map, because I ended up having the time and had not seen that one when I prepared, it was on my hangover day.

My original plan was Lake, Temple Hill, Middle of Nowhere, Base of Tree then home in a smooth loop following the main road to the south of Base of tree. But I ended up adding the Monks Meditation Rock and it meant another 80 km to the day. I had mixed fortunes today, the first cache was just north along the river with a small detour on a secondary road. As its name implies it is next to a lake. The road was very dusty and it was quite smelly sometimes too, then I found that I was following a small tip truck filled with small fish, still damp, maybe this mornings catch, or maybe harvest from the many fish ponds around this area. The cache name is Lake

The reason for holding up the noodle packet was because the cache was disguised in one, to fit in with the background. If you follow that link above you can see I logged a “Needs Maintenance” rather than a DNF and my noodle packet was different to the one he used. I looked everywhere through all the rubbish on that site and found nothing. I personally consider I found the correct location, so if it had of been there, I would l have logged a found, as it is I break even, except for wasted time, which happens a lot, usually because previous cachers may have been seen by kids who are very curious. Anyway, I was little disappointed but shit happens, so I head off to the next one. I backtracked to the main road, headed north then took the next turning west and crossed a section of the lake. The houses alongside the road were very small and looked to have been there a long time. But, in contrast, one of the road entrances to a Wat was so shiny and impressive it looked new! This is where a lot of peoples money goes to over here, paying for their religion, the monks live by donations of food and money, cloth etc. Some parts of the road were being repaired or upgraded and the surface was quite loose and deep, especially getting around the working machinery. I was thankful I did not have the big bike 😉 In one section there were quite a few rice fields under full growth, even though most of the paddies are dry around the countryside.

I saw another Wat entrance, another new looking set up and this one had the full Naga headed snakes over a bridge with the devils on one side and the Apsaras on the other.

But, this was not where I need to be so I continued on until I found the actual Temple Hill, the gateway here was a bit more aged. The cache site itself was easy to find and so was the cache and to top it off I was the First To Find 🙂

There was a bit of confusion about this one and still is. The cache had a pencil in it, yet somebody online has claimed it as a FTF for themselves, yet if they had been here, they would have filled out the log. You can see the online log entry in the above link. Note, most people who find a FTF usually write a bit more than TFTC(or Thanks For The Cache), so this is probably a bogus claim. I am still waiting on the cache owner to respond. Anyway, I was happy and rode up the hill to see the views from up there. The best views are blocked by trees, so a bit of environmental damage could fix that I reckon, but not that I would condone it of course.

After that I headed back down the hill and was soon turned off onto some dusty dirt roads. That is the norm over here, the roads are either good, or absolute shit. This road was actually not too bad, a bit of corrugation and some sandy spots but it was taking me to another Wat, to find the cache called, aptly enough, Middle Of Nowhere

I noticed that the monks and apprentices(disciples?)were over under a building having lunch or something, so I parked up and went the long way around the back of an older Wat to home in on ground zero. As it turns out this was a crematorium and the cache was located next to the Spirit House( I have a feeling the Spirit House is new and built after the cache was placed). The original photos from the log show the vegetation to be very small. That was not how I found it, it was overgrown and the actual cache was covered in red fire ants and it had been under water a long time at some stage. The wet season over here really takes its toll of caches on or in the ground, I have no idea why they put them there instead of high and dry with rocks to hold them in place! Anyway, I can classify this as found, even if the log was rotted away and the rust has claimed the trinkets. I left a card in there, they can use the back of that for a log, until the cache owner returns to fix it 😉

After re hiding the cache amongst the guardian fire ants I took off for the last one of the day, this one I knew was missing, I was just going to replace it. I had heaps of time, so why not. I traversed some more dirt until the main 51 highway then turned south, this road was mostly paved, but as with all paved roads over here, they have deep holes in section, usually the heavily trafficked part and that can make for some interesting riding, twisting through the potholes while avoiding everybody else doing the same thing in your lane!

So, I eventually end up with the GPS telling me to turn left and the cache is 1.2km that way. The problem is, I felt a bit uncomfortable going through that gate there as it looks a bit official!!!

I poked my nose through the gate and to the right inside were a number of military vehicles and although it is hard to see in the picture, straight ahead just where the road turns is a watch tower!! Well, I ain’t going in there, what a silly place for a cache, why would they do that is what I am thinking. The GPS is adamant though, but I am unwilling, been there done that in Laos and have no wish to go back for seconds! I was nearly stumped, so I sat and thought about it. People have actually been to this cache, so there must be a way in, maybe I have come from the wrong direction, so I zoom in on my GPS and see the dotted lines for tracks and I reckon I can get there if I go down the road a bit, go inland a ways then head north and come in from the back door so to speak 🙂 And that is what I do, I did find another track and a Wat archway, it did involve a water crossing, which I did on foot in case I drowned the short arse scooter, then it turned to single track, but in the end I did get to the gateway to the Wat entrance and there was a larger dirt road running besides it.

Once again parking in the shade, I saw nobody awake anywhere, although I saw a few bodies in hammocks just hanging around 😉 The cache location was not too far away on the other side of the golden Wat. The cache is called Base of Tree , I wonder why???

So, I placed the new cache in the back of the hole, added some concrete lumps and a heap of leaves and I hope it lasts a bit longer than the last one. That was last seen in November 2009, and should have been checked prior to this especially after 2 DNF’s. Anyway, the job was done and so I headed off out and decided to follow the main dirt road to see if it took me through the military base. But, no it didn’t, it took me to the actual Wat entrance arch on the main road, bloomin’ heck!! If I had got off my bike and crossed the road originally and looked back, I would have no doubt seen this entrance which is set back from the road and blocked a bit by shops and stalls. If you look at the map, you can see the large loop I travelled to get in the back way, while the two little blue flags show the two separate entrances, side by side.

So, I was finished doing what I had intended and not a bad result so far, well 50/50 anyway, a FTF and a found, one missing and one replaced. It was only 12.30pm and I had allowed all day, so it was then that I noticed another cache a bit further up north. It meant some back tracking, but what the heck, why not 🙂 So, I rode north, grabbing a litre of fuel on the way with the last of my usable cash. What I mean by that is, this morning I had forgotten to change a $100 bill at the front desk. I had very little dollars and not much Reils and I had already used some for fuel earlier. It meant I was chewing on my backup peanut bars as food, I had plenty of water, so I was OK for the moment 🙂 I was now down to nothing though, about 3,000 Reils and the 100 bucks of course, that gets a laugh at the fuel sellers stalls I can tell you. 😆 It took about an hour to cover the distance to the entrance to a hill of Wats, this used to be the former capital back in the old days but is now that main Buddhist centre here in Cambodia.

There was a checkpoint and the guards wanted money to enter, only foreigners pay to get in, but as I had no money, I told him I was not going up the mountain to the left, I was taking the road to the right. Whether he believed me or not he let me through 🙂 I found the cache site OK and parked up, but then had a big struggle trying to find the cache called Monks’ Meditation Rock The cache was supposed to be up near the small shrine on the top of the rocks but that had been vandalised and was now lying at the base of the rock pile.

The monks resting rocks were still there and although I searched everywhere, even shifted a tonne of leaves, I found nothing. Well, that was a waste of time, what a bummer. Once again this cache was last found in August 2011, so it is well over a year since it was checked, or attempted and logged. Well, I was done for the day, time to make tracks back to the hotel, it was an hour or so away and I followed the river all the way, eventually riding the outward path.

I had a quiet afternoon and evening, but met up with Joe again during dinner. This was when he mentioned he used to be a chief editor of either Fairfax or Murdoch back home, that would have been an interesting job [edit – Joe has confirmed he was the Managing Editor- Murdoch Magazines- Tourism & Travel- Part of News Limited.] 🙂 It was a quiet night because tomorrow, I was heading south to a place called Kampot. Joe had come from there and said it was a very relaxing town, quite cheap and passed on information regarding guest houses and places to eat. That is what travel is all about, either finding out the hard way by trying everything yourself, or getting recommendations from fellow travellers 🙂 You still may not agree with the original person, but at least you know it probably won’t kill you 😆

I have also seen posts on Facebook by Brisbane2Bristol, that is Clive and Christine Thompson, they are in Snook(Sihanoukville) down south west on the coast and are also heading north and east. We have arranged to meet for a beer and a chat tomorrow 🙂 For those that do not remember, they are the couple on a Vstrom who brought my much needed spare parts from Brisbane to Kuala Lumpa.

Cheers from Phnom Penh

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