Thursday, January 12, 2012


DAY 2 - SKUN TO KAMPONG THOM (12th Dec 2011)

Our destination on the second day was Kampong Thom. From the map, Kg Thom is a bigger town than Skun, and we could expect a bigger guest house and hopefully with wifi connection. Funny that in the internet age, one would momentarily felt cut-off without such connection.

Day 2 - Skun to Kampong Thom
We were again joined by Mr Zakaria for breakfast at Restaurant Mukmin. He told us we would be able to find a Muslim village and food outlet about 50kms from Skun. Still, I bought a packet of biscuits and filled up our water-bottles. It was always  better to have some extra food than to run out of them. I had experienced that situation in the mountains of Chiengrai in Thailand once, with a group of "tuarers" almost stranded in the mountain at night.

We overnighted 4 mms before Skun. Skun is a small town with two highways, one branching to Kampong Cham and the other to Siem Reap where we were headed. Skun is popular with one delicacy which would turn off most foreign visitors - fried Tarantulas or spiders. As we cycled into town, it was too early to visit the market to have a look at this famous delicacy. No, we had no intention of trying out this so-called delicacy.

We stopped at a village a few kilometers after the town to photograph the folks at their daily activities. This is a padi-growing area and it was the harvesting season. Most activities along the route were therefore related to harvesting and dehusking padi. Where we stopped, sometimes a small crowd appear, out of curiosity. Such occasions were excellent for getting to know the locals, and we usually get eager friendly locals to be photographed.

Drying Padi In The Sun

Bahasa speaking gentleman

One for the road with the village folks

It had been in the yesteryears in the Malaysian kampong to see this traditional instrument to pound padi, making them into "empeng".  Khailani told me it's called "INDIK". These boys manning the INDIK seemed rather amused at us photographing them, and again we attracted a small crowd.

Making "empeng" with the "Indik"


In the jungle warfare fighting the colonialists, we were informed that the "empeng" was the ration the soldiers carry into battle. It's light, easy to eat and have good nutrition. I guess that makes the soldiers slim, light and very mobile, an ingredient for battle. So, all those who are also doing their battles against FAT, how about trying "empeng". It's a guaranteed win.

But what is the relationship between "empeng" and hammock? Again it's about mobility, plus good rest. The soldiers carried hammocks with them. Hammocks are easy to instal and remove, and in the jungle can easily be tied tree to tree.

Compare these two items against the colonialist soldiers so used to the comforts of life, thrown into the jungle to fight the local soldiers who were fighting for a cause.


As I said earlier, this ride reminds me of Malaysia about 30 - 40 years ago. When I was a kid in the village (a long time ago), there were cock fights. We do not see them anymore. In Cambodia, I believe cock fighting is still legal. We came across fighting cocks on display and obviously for sale. At such early morning, a prospective customer was making choices.

Fighting cocks

We were hoping to get some worthwhile photographs of the monks in their orange saffron robe getting their daily meals from the villagers. We did not see too many of them but I managed to capture one solitary young monk waiting to cross the road. He actually offered a smile to me but I was too slow to capture him at that instant. Moments like this, you wished you carried a DSLR. But when you think of the added weight on a bicycle tour, you compromised. I would have another occasion later to regret not having a DSLR.


By about 11am we had covered 48kms and our stomach was ready for some solid food. The biscuits had come in handy during the stops. We guessed we were nearing the Muslim village mentioned by Mr Zakaria. We slowed down (not that we were fast) and after asking 2 shops in sign language, we were pointed to a stall with a halal sign. There were two stalls, side by side. The first stall could not offer much except for instant maggi mee. We consider Maggi Mee as emergency food and since there was another stall, there was no emergency! We went to the other shop, owner spoke Malay (again) as she used to be a cook in Kuala Tregganu. So, nasi dagang on the menu? No la. She offered fried rice. I did not offer to ask whether the fried rice come with chicken or cow!

A man with a Kupiah was chatting us up. He is the local Imam, Hj Zuhli.  A little bit later, we were joined by a comparatively fluent Malay speaking gentleman. He introduced himself as Hj Ali, a brand new Haji as he had just returned from the pilgrimage. Alhamdulillah. He is now a Malaysian, having migrated to Johor under the UNHCR about 16 years ago. He performed the Haj though via Cambodia, a faster approach as the waiting period to perform the Haj is much shorter in Cambodia. He originates from this village and returns often, helping the kampong to raise funds to build a new mosque.

The near completion mosque @ Kampong Therpiangchuk
We later took a short tour of the almost completed mosque, accompanied by the Imam. It was indeed very near completion. Sadly, there was no work in progress. There was no work because the fund had run dry. They wait for fresh injections and it's individuals like Hj Ali who gradually and patiently helped to raise the fund. See you in Malaysia Hj Ali!

A little bit short of fund for final completion
With Imam Hj Zuhli
We said goodbye to the Imam and proceeded on. Much later, we came across a stretch of road where big square boulders were laid by the road side and village folks were chiseling and sculpting statues.

Rocks in boulder size waiting to be sculpted
The job was both noisy and dusty. I was covered in dust just videoing them up close for a short while. I do hope the masks they wore were effective enough, or else they would have really dusty lungs.

Skilled craftsmen sculpting a figure

We stopped for a short rest at a wakaf and I took the opportunity for a short nap while Khailani was busy taking shots whatever he fancied, including my siesta.

the good old well

A short nap
Another quick stop for mini watermelons by the road side. Here, they eat watermelons with sprinkles of salt. We did the same and I quite like the taste. Guessed it was okay to have some extra sodium as cycling is a great hydrating hobby. In my case, when I sweat heavily I could feel the crystals (salt) lining my arms and face. We relaxed a while at this place as Kampong Thom was less than 5 kms away.

The sweet mini watermelon
Soon we were entering Kampong Thom and looking for hotels was not a problem. There were numerous hotels and we were happy with our choice - hot water, air-cond and of-course wi-fi and CHEAP - US$10 twin-sharing!

Cycling into Kampong Thom

The Guest House in Kampong Thom


Distance : 95 kms
Cycling Time : 5 hrs 58 mins
Average Speed : 15.8 kph

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