A new year, a new country: to Cambodia

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Khao Lak to Khao Sok National Park

Cycling away from Khao Lak after such a great Christmas wasn’t easy, but we knew we were in for a treat as we headed towards Khao Sok National Park. The roads wound around forests and up hills to reward us with some super views.

Khao Sok National Park

Today was the day of local cyclists: one man on his mountain bike stopped us, gestured to a bridge, stopped his friends who must have been cycling not far behind us, and beckoned us to follow. Just wide enough for our loaded-up bikes, we cycled across the bridge with the mountain bikers (stopped while they took some photos of us), through a village, and only then realised it was a short cut to where we needed to be. Later that day, whizzing down a hill past a group of cyclists, what we thought was a friendly wave was a flapping to get our attention. We only realised this after the road cyclist caught up with us to ask for some help. For the second time in our trip, we had to use our tyre repair kit and pump: again for someone else that we met by the side of the road: these guys were doing a reccy for an upcoming race. Their parting message as we said goodbye was: “You’ve got a hill coming up.”

We didn’t have far to cycle before we would reach our destination; however, there was a mountain between us and Khao Sok. One that took us around 40 minutes to climb.

We arrived at the viewpoint where a bus had dropped off some tourists admiring the view, and as we admired the view, the tourists looked at us. We looked at each other and realised what a mess we must have looked like, and burst out laughing! One of the tourists must have realised our feat, and handed us a free bottle of water.

Khao Lak to Khao Sok National Park
Khao Lak to Khao Sok National Park cycle route

Around Khao Sok National Park, and to Ratchaprapa Dam

With views of the jungle, the Morning Mist resort was a great base while we explored the National Park. Along the trails through the giant bamboo forest – one of the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world (at over 160 million years old, Will says) – we watched monkeys pounce around in the trees, monitor lizards, dragonflies and fish in the rivers.

The cycle from Khao Sok wasn’t as hilly, but still an awesome road to cycle, and the Cheow Lan Lake was breath-taking.

Khao Sok National Park to Ratchaprapa Dam cycle route
Khao Sok National Park to Ratchaprapa Dam cycle route

Ratchaprapa Dam to Surat Thani for New Years

Getting up early and cycling while the sun rises is great, especially for photos. Heading back towards the coast, we were on our way to Koh Samui to celebrate the beginning of 2016 with Helen and Steve, a couple who we met during our trekking in Nepal. Thai whisky and buckets: that’s all I’m saying.

Ratchaprapa Dam to Surat Thani cycle route
Ratchaprapa Dam to Surat Thani cycle route

Surat Thani to Bangkok

After an early-morning ferry back from Koh Samui island, we cycled from Don Sak pier to Surat Thani and broadened our experience by catching a night train back up to Bangkok: this was justified to avoid cycling along the same route. With a curtain and a blanket, I was very cosy in my bunk. While we got our bikes serviced in Bangkok the following day, we reminisced about our time diving by going to the Sea Life Centre. Now all we want to do is cycle tour to the best dive sites.

Don Sak to Surat Thani cycle route
Don Sak to Surat Thani cycle route

Bangkok to Chachoengsao

Cycling out of a city takes much longer than it should, and this city went on for miles! Along a long, boring dusty highway full of traffic, we were delighted when a car slowed down alongside us, wound down the window and handed us each a bottle of water. He was our support vehicle and we were so grateful.

Bicycle is simple solution to solve some of the world’s problems
Bangkok to Chachoengsao cycle route
Bangkok to Chachoengsao cycle route

Chachoengsao to Pranchin Buri

Although the highway doesn’t provide the most interesting of landscapes, we were on our way to the Cambodian border. During our ride, an expat driving a moped on the wrong side of the road warned us not to continue along Highway 304: it was the most dangerous road in Thailand. Well, moving towards us and flagging us down was the most dangerous thing we encountered. Plus, I found 20 baht on the floor. Maybe it’s a lucky highway.

As we stopped for a rest, a lady brought us 2 more bottles of water. The people here are so friendly. One of the reasons we didn’t want to leave Thailand.

Chachoengsao to Pranchin Buri cycle route
Chachoengsao to Pranchin Buri cycle route

Prachin Buri to Sa Kaeo

The highlight of the day was a delicious kiwi smoothie: it was bright green, ice cold and tasted of acidic health. These are the small things you crave for during a cycle, and pedal faster to get it sooner. These then make the small moments that can change the entire mood of a cycle day.

Prachin Buri to Sa Kaeo cycle route
Prachin Buri to Sa Kaeo cycle route

Sa Kaeo to Poi Pet (border) and Sisophon, Cambodia

A bit of research told tales of scams at the Poi Pet border from Thailand to Cambodia. The manager of our guesthouse had also warned about the potential stings. When I woke that morning, I was a little anxious. We stayed close to the border so we could arrive early and have maximum cognitive power to decipher scam from certainty. With a hesitant moment while we tried to identify which official building to aim for, we were pounced on by two different groups, telling us to go in two opposite ways, where we could ‘buy our Cambodian visa’. We cycled past the shouts and found the sternest-looking officials to stamp us out of Thailand (boo), register us into Cambodia, and stamp our arrival into the new country. Relieved that we had sailed through, one very long, straight road took us to our first stop: Sisophon. There were approximately zero corners. Had it not been dusty, we would probably have been able to see Sisophon from Poi Pet.

Sa Kaeo to Sisophon cycle route
Sa Kaeo to Sisophon cycle route

Sunrise Koh Samui


Posted by Lindsay

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