Tuesday, August 09, 2016


The next couple of days, we continued eastward on our motorcycle through the flatlands of Cambodia, crossing the Mekong River once again as we headed to the border of South Vietnam. We spent our last Cambodia night at the border town of Bavet. The hotel there agreed to let us leave the motorcycle in their secure parking for our sojourn into Vietnam as we found no way past the restrictions of taking it into their country.

In the morning with very little border traffic, we found it was a breeze to get processed and through the officialdom for entry into Vietnam. We then caught a bus for the 2-hour ride to the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh (formerly called Saigon) and into its labyrinth of streets chockfull with frenetic traffic.

We easily found a clean and cheap hotel in a popular area for budget travellers. Like North Vietnam, we saw many of the same skinny buildings sandwiched between others.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

Smiling Bayon

The temple at Bayon is at the center of Angkor Thom of the Angkor complex and was built about 100 years after Angkor Wat. This temple has 4 smiling faces looking north, south, east, and west on EACH of the 54 towers.

Bayon Temple

Bayon is full of smiling faces throughout the temple, some say between 2,000 and 3,000! You feel like you are being watched...

How many can you count?

What a happy place. We were left in awe and our advice to all is to definitely put Angkor Wat and its many sites on your bucket list.

Ta Prohm

We continued our amazing exploration of the Angkor sites after visiting Angkor Wat earlier in the day, including Ta Prohm for example (a location for the 2001 movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie) which struggles to escape a relentless jungle embrace.

Ta Prohm

Bits of rubble

Nature's overgrowth and destruction

A scene from Tomb Raider

Larger than life

Strolling through time

Ta Prohm has mostly been left to nature, but now the experts are trying to preserve it as nature is becoming too destructive to the temples.

Angkor Wat

Of the several impressive ancient Khmer temples scattered around Cambodia, we saved the best for last.

Just to the north of the present day city of Siem Reap in the jungle flatlands was the seat of the complex Khmer society of centuries ago. Discovered antiquities pop out of the steamy overgrowth here and there, over many square kilometres. The uncovered sites are mostly impressive temples that were the focal point of those prosperous people and as further evidence of their industriousness are the remains of a lengthy labyrinth of man-made canals and lakes.

The most magnificent of these temple edifices is Angkor Wat and is distinct not only for its size (just over 162 ha) and intricate and complex stonework but for its intact condition. Words, and for that matter, pictures, cannot capture the scope and wonder of it all.

We travelled on our motorcycle on paved roads with the rest of the tourist traffic from one prodigious ruin site to another of the Angkor area, each in various forms and features and in various degrees of ruin such as Angkor Thom, Banteay Kdei, Ta Prohm, Bayon, etc.

Approaching the Angkor complex

Over 3,000 nymphs carved into walls of Angkor Wat

Walking down the outside wall of...

...800 metres of intricate and astonishing bas-reliefs (carvings)

Inner area, outside of a temple

One of Angkor Wat's towers

Made of mostly sandstone, the thousands and thousands of tourist footsteps are slowly causing erosion. Steps are being taken to try to preserve this UNESCO World Heritage site.

Friday, August 05, 2016

More ruins

Continuing further east on our motorcycle in the hilly terrain just below the Laos border in Cambodia, we were looking for a UNESCO World Heritage ancient temple site called Preah Vihear (meaning The Temple in the Sky).

Arriving at the park entrance, the official warned us of the steep road and suggested we take their 4x4 shuttle, but we confidently declined and continued up the long road. The last part was indeed steep and it was all our loaded Honda could do in low gear to get us up to the top.

The site, more than 1,000 years old, consists of 5 pavillions and 4 courtyards that stretch more than 800 metres on a gradual incline culminating on the edge of the plateau's cliffs affording distant vista over the flatlands in the distance to the south.

Just a fraction of the site

Coming through

The kingdom laid out below

Finished with ruins for the day, we headed south to Siem Reap making it a long and full day of riding. We had a delicious supper of French baguette with cheese, Vietnam spring rolls with shrimp, and wine. For dessert, we had purchased earlier from locals on the side of the road barbecuing something in bamboo - sticky rice with mango stuffed inside. Very different and delicious, another first!

Thursday, August 04, 2016


With full clearance from Cambodia Customs to take our motorcycle into the country, we left the Poipet border town and headed on a road less travelled.

Rice fields in the flatlands

Most tourist traffic makes a beeline to the most famous ruins of Angkor Wat but we wanted to see some less visited and more remote sites first so we turned north and followed the Laos border to find the ruins of Preah Banteay Chhmar of Cambodia.

The state of these 12th century ruins and the lack of official presence made it feel like we stumbled through the jungle and found ancient remnants of a lost civilization.

Can you see the rock faces?

Nature - the great recycler

Time to say goodbye

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Return to Poipet

Official permit in hand from Phnom Penh (Cambodia), we grabbed a minivan for the 8-hour ride back to pick up our motorcycle at the border where we had to leave it at Customs in Poipet (also Cambodia). We were hoping to simply hand in our Customs paperwork from Phnom Penh and be finished, thus giving our Thai-registered motorcycle the clearance to continue in and through Cambodia.

But no way, not quite yet! The Poipet Customs needed some time to do their due diligence, but after a couple of hours, we finally had our clearance. While waiting for the return of our file, we checked into a room at a hotel casino, even though we are not gamblers, as it was late in the day and we could not leave until morning.

FYI: Poipet is a well-known gambling town with many casinos. Busloads of people arrive from Thailand to partake in the activities as gambling is illegal in Thailand.

Definitely not Vegas