Tuesday, January 24, 2012



This is the final day of our ride, and the shortest one. It would just be about 65 kms to our final destination Siem Reap. We woke up early to the crowing of cocks and hen, just like in the good old days in the kampong. It was chilly and we knew we had to put on our rain coat again, at least until we had generated sufficient body heat. This was the day when the temperature dipped below 20 and I recorded the lowest temperature at 17 degrees C. It is not often that cyclists in the tropics get to enjoy such pleasant though slightly chilly weather.

Lowest temperature recorded for the day

Without hot water we could not prepare our simple breakfast, i.e. Campbell soup. There was no one attending to the guest house so early in the morning. We made do with some bread and mineral water knowing with confidence that our lunch would be Halal food in Siem Reap. Prior to this trip, I had booked  a Malaysian owned hotel serving halal food in Siem Reap.

So here we were, posing in front of the MAI BO GUESTHOUSE in Kampong Kdei, raincoats on, ready for the chill wind. For US$8 a night, the guesthouse was value for money.

We could feel the chill on the face as the morning breeze gently blew. For the past several days, the morning breeze made riding pleasurable. The head wind would gather strength as the sun heated up the road, a double whammy of sort. This added to the small challenge of cycle touring.

We passed by a school, one of the better schools we passed by. The "headmaster' blood in Khailani must surely stop here for a pose. In my previous travels, I used to pass schools along the road but I had never stop to pose at one.

I had occasions though to capture school kids either going or leaving school.  Obviously this was a secondary school. These three schoolgirls gladly posed for Khailani, obedient to the headmaster!

We stopped at a road side stall, curious to check out whether there were anything worth stopping for, to whet our fast growing hunger. There was nothing much and we moved on until we reached a bigger town.

We stopped at a fruit stall for fruits

and were surprised to see "etok" dried in the sun and ready for sale. Back in my state of Kelantan, I would not miss the chance of savoring this saltish delicacy of the East Coast. The "etok" here were too exposed to the dust. I doubt I have such a strong stomach to give it a try. With chilly generously sprinkled on the "etok", it was a guaranteed frequent trips to the toilet, if ever I could find one along the road. So, no thank you.

A road side mechanic attracted my eyes as I stopped for another breather. His tools were simple, honed with skills probably learned since he was a kid. I had found similar road side mechanics in my trips in Indonesia.

I took a close look at a tractor which doubled as transport for the rural folks. I was sure handling one of these machines required considerable skill as these machines were not designed to travel on the road, let alone to carry passengers. But rural economics necessitated such needs to be creative and adaptive. 


Next road side activity worth stopping for were the lemang stalls.  Along one particular stretch, just as we could find back home, there were numerous stalls selling Cambodian version of lemang. The lemang were packed in much smaller and shorter bamboos. Once cooked, the bamboos were stripped clean of the burnt parts. The discarded materials were recycled as fuel for subsequent cooking. No waste.



Al-Manar said...

Surprise! It was a wonderful surprise beyond words. You have made it after I had wishes for a book by you, not as a free gift!

I hope that would be the first of a series - Seeing the World on Bicycle!

Thank you my friend

ARZ said...

Pak Cik,

I surprised you didn't i? Well, as I said it was a goal, inspired by my respected elder, you!

A Malaysian cycling magazine will also be carrying extracts from the book in every issue, in English.

Pak Cik, there are gems in your writing, plenty of them. That too, should be a great compilation.

Thank you for the encouragement.