Tuesday, January 3, 2012


DAY ZERO - 10th Dec 2011

The last cycling tour I did was in April, exploring the coastal roads of South Vietnam. Vietnam borders Cambodia. A ride in Cambodia was the next logical goal. I had been to its capital, Phnom Penh back in 2006. I stayed and lived with the locals in Phnom Penh for 2 weeks. But something was missing then. My bicycle was not my companion! And I had longed to visit Siem Reap, famous for its Angkor Wat and made more famous by Angeline Jolie.

This Angkor Wat ride was something I had been wanting to do.

So when a fellow cycling tourer, Acid proposed to do Bangkok - Siem Reap, I was all set. However, another close cycling buddy, Khailani wanted to come along and the proposed dates did not jive with his work commitment. Yours truly cannot bear to leave another buddy so we decided to split. Acid and his 3 other buddies will stick to their dates. Khailani and I will start our journey on 10th Dec. We would be "trailing" Acid and his gang.

We got a cheap fare to Bangkok on MAS on 10th Dec and a return on the same airline from Siem Reap on 16th Dec. All systems go, so we thought.

Then heavy rain pounded Thailand, Bangkok was flooded. Not only the Thais were concerned, we were too! My bicycle is not equipped with any floating device to cycle in the flood. Even if it does, I do not fancy cycling side by side with crocodiles that might go astray from the crocodile farms. I have after all, seen enough crocodiles in my last place of work, in a golf resort. Ha....ha...

We make a quick decision to change our route. Thanks to the flood threatening closure of the Bangkok airport, MAS allowed the reschedule even for its cheap fares. Phnom Penh became our starting point. With Phnom Penh secured, I was wondering whether Ustaz Daud, someone I got acquainted with in Phnom Penh still maintained his mobile number. I have kept it for a good 6 years and I was wondering whether he still remembered me. The number was active and he was looking forward to meet me again. It did not sink on him that I will be his guest for only an evening.

Ustaz Daud

MAS was near capacity on this Phnom Penh flight. There was a no show of 3 passengers, causing some delay. Ustaz Daud was waiting for us upon arrival, together with Cik Gu Mad, another Malaysian visitor from Kelantan who came a week earlier. We got the 2 bike bags on the motorbike taxi costing us US$7 to our hotel while Ustaz Daud sent us there in his car. The hotel CITY LUX is an ideal location - both for us and would be tourists, especially lady tourists and you can guess why. Ustaz Daud's choice of the hotel for us was excellent, and I recommend this for stay in Phnom Penh, i.e. if you are also my "type" of tourist.

The heritage Psar Thmey is also a stone's throw from the hotel. So husbands beware! There are lots of information on Psar Thmei, such as this site from Wikipedia. I will let the husbands to decide whether to stay in my recommended hotel after researching on Psar Thmei. By the way, one can also lay one's hand on designer watches and clothes at a fraction of the cost in this Psar Thmei. Hmmm

It is an irony that a 2 star hotel in Phnom Penh provides free wifi. I stayed in a  4-star hotel in Malacca last week (compliment of my son) and I got only a 2 hour free wifi. Now you know WHY I usually stay in a cheap hotel (wink wink).

Two Muslim restaurants owned by Malaysians are only a few minutes walk away. One is called Cafe Malaya and that was where we had our lunch.

Cafe Malaya. Malaysian Buffet at US$4

The other is Nyonya Restaurant, where we had our dinner. At dinner we were told by the operator that the restaurant opened at 6:30 am. It was great news, assured of a sumptuous breakfast before we begin our Phnom Penh to Siem Reap ride tomorrow.

Very Malaysian. Satay Kajang and Teh Tarek on the menu!

After lunch, Ustaz Daud brought Khailani and I to Kampong Kilomet 9. It was down memory lane and a privilege for me to meet the few learned men I got acquainted with back in 2006. Ustaz Ahmad always spoke with a smile and followed by a soft laugh. He speaks both English and Malay well, a well educated man he is. I was told later that his daughter married Tok Guru Nik Aziz's son, the one that was ISA'd once. I did not recall him mentioning to me that. Such is his humility.

(L-R) ARZ, Ustaz Ahmad, Cik Gu Mad, Khailani, Ustaz Daud and Ustaz Salleh

We also visited the madrasah, built with middle-east funds. Ustaz Daud is the principal with about 400 students for both morning and afternoon session. The madrasah is totally dependent upon donations from well-wishes, mainly from abroad.

Religious Class in progress

Before we headed back to the hotel, we just had to try the freshly produced Tuak. Khailani argued lightly that it was not Tuak, but Nira. Tuak in his vocabulary is the one that will intoxicate you. He was outnumbered 2 to 1 as Cik Gu Mad and I said the Kelantanese do not call it Nira but Tuak. The intoxicated one is called Tuak Masam!

Back at the hotel, we went about fixing our dismantled bikes ready for the start of our journey the next day.


acid mustafa said...

Wahh, so many times my name was mentioned lah. Mentioned by yours truly pulak tu. You got this feeling, sort of a feeling when the pengarah mentioned your name in his speech lah.. hehe


ARZ said...

That's because you are famous, or was it infamous :-))