Back to basics

Riding to Skun from Phnom Penh I went through areas of no villages at all, just some little make shift stalls on the side of a desolate highway with various skinned animals hanging at the front,  dogs, cats and rats is the best I can make out.

I ended up stopping in Skun, just because of the distance I needed to. I rode past a multi level hotel on the outskirts of town thinking I would get something closer to town. Once I had ridden another 5km it became apparent there wasn’t going to be another hotel. I saw a sign for a guesthouse and I headed down a laneway and came across a guesthouse. I took the room for $5, I looked at the room first, it was okay. You get what you pay for. I took the room as the thought of riding back 5km did not appeal. The manager, and that is a term I use loosely, seemed more like a guy that was just hanging out gave me the room key, I am not sure why, there was not a lock, thankfully I could dead bolt the door from the inside.


I went for a walk around the central market of Skun, only famous for its tarantulas, both live and cooked.  Fortunately I didnt see any, I found myself not looking very hard for fear someone would assume I wanted to see the local delicacy. Skun is an unremarkable place, the town is a junction town for the eastern provinces and north to Siem Reap, its dusty and dirty and I was happy to be up early and on my way to Kampong Cham.
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I arrived in Kampong Cham, starving hungry and went to the Smile Restaurant on the riverfront  for an excellent breakfast of bacon  and eggs, the Smile Restuarant is run by the Buddhist Development program for training of orphans and vulnerable children, the staff were lovely and it was lovely sitting looking out over the Mekong River.


I headed out of town over an expansive bridge crossing the Mekong, heading towards a homestay in Chiro village. The ride was lovely, following along the opposite side of the Mekong to Kampong Cham. This was truly rural Cambodia with the farmers going about their day working the fields. It took me a bit to find the homestay, riding past it by many kilometres before heading back. Eventually I found it, easy to see why I missed it, it truly was a homestay, there was nothing that identified it as being any different from the other homes I had passed by.  It was a Khmer home with the bamboo slatted floor, the family are farmers and I had a room at the front of the house. The family were lovely, made me feel very welcome despite the language barrier, we sat on the floor for the family dinner and the viewing of a Cambodian soap opera.


I went to bed early, tired from my early morning and the ride, the room had a fan and I slept under a mosquito net, I fell asleep early despite the overly loud TV and the people talking loudly under my room. I awoke about 11pm to the fan stopping, I heard that of Cambodia, the power being shut off over night. The whole village was in darkness. No longer having a noisy fan to mask the outside noise I could hear everything, first it was the dogs barking, not just one dog, several, it sounded like I was staying over a dog pound. Then there were babies crying and people coughing and spitting,  and long before the sun rose the roosters awoke and crowed endlessly, the cows started mooing, the wireless radios went on and people started their days. I don’t know why I thought a village would be tranquil. I am not surprised midday finds the families laying in the hammocks under the houses getting out of the midday heat, probably having a much needed sleep.


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