Caution: long post, long day
Day 6 started with so much promise. We were riding high after our day at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom (Day 5) and had an off-the-beaten-path adventure planned, courtesy of Danny's Motorcycle Cambodia book. Look how happy we are before we start!
We sped off from Siem Reap around 8:30 and hit our first single track dirt road about 45 minutes later. I was leading the charge early on when dirt turned to sand faster than I could react. Crash 1. No problem. It's sand. No blood, no foul. Lesson learned. 60 seconds later. Crash 2. Still no problem. It's sand. But I'm starting to feel like an idiot. And I busted my helmet face guard. Luckily Charlie bit it a couple minutes later, so I started to feel better about myself. Not to long after that we encountered our first major obstacle: a creek. After some reconnaissance, we decided that there was only one way across - straight through. With our shoes off and pants rolled up we walked each bike across. The water level was just below the engine. Carry on. Another 1k later, we ran into a family of 4 walking in the opposite direction. Despite the fact that we know 3 Khmer words and they knew 0 English words, they were able to explain to us that an impassable creek crossing lay ahead. So we turned around, followed them and recrossed the previous creek. Net creek crossings: 0. After we got a further explanation about how to get around the creek, we parted ways with the family. The little girl was so cute that I had to find a gift to give her. I gave her a bell that I attached to my bike on day 1. My aunt gave me the bell as a good luck charm. She loved it. I'm not sure if it made her or me happier.
Back to the adventure. We got off the single track trail and back onto a "main" road. There was no relief from the sun or the dust and we were already approaching midday. So we decided to alter our adventure. We headed back out to highway 6 towards Battambang. We stopped for lunch near the intersection of highway 6 and route 68. The owner of the restaurant informed us that is was a 50k trek north to route 56 and then a 50k trek W/SW to Sisophan. By this time it was 2:30. We figured this was a doable before sunset. But we hadn't applied the Cambodian actuarial adjustment factor of 1.7 to any estimate of time or distance. 85k of dusty, bumpy road later, we reached the intersection of route 66. It was an amazing ride through the Cambodian countryside, so we weren't too upset about the extra distance. Danny got some pretty good footage on the helmet cam and we have a bunch of pics of the rice fields.
It was approaching 5:00 when took a little gasoline/Fanta break break. We had a sense that we were in for more than 50k again.
About an 45 minutes down the road we were forced to pull over to watch the sunset. Even though we were a little nervous about being far from a major town in a foreign country at dark, we couldn't help but be grateful for the amazing view.
Another 45 minutes. Still no sign of Sisophan. But we did find a sign in Khmer that probably told us where to go.
As we were pondering our next step, a boy on a scooter pointed us in the right direction. So we forged onward. More dusty, bumpy, dirt/gravel roads. We pulled over around 7:00 for a little breather and to take in the view. I don't think I've even seen the stars brighter and clearer than I saw them last night. It may have been hallucination because I was completely exhausted and dehydrated after 11 hours of riding. The same boy as before passed us by again and informed us that we had less than an hour to go. By now, we understood that in Cambodian time, this meant at least 90 minutes. We continued on. Dusty. Bumpy. Dark. Bumpy. We pulled over again around 8:30 when we passed a roadside stand. The man spoke no English, but wrote 2kk on a piece of paper. He turned out to be correct. We rolled into Sisophan shortly after 8:30 and stopped at the first guesthouse we found.
Relief overcame exhaustion initially. We got a room and unloaded the bikes. A more careful look around our room and the guesthouse revealed that this guesthouse was the creepiest and most bug infested place we've ever seen. But we had no choice at this point. We couldn't find another guesthouse and didn't have the energy to go any further. So Danny sprayed Deet around his entire mattress, I quarantined my bed with upside down duct tape to trap any would-be insect attackers, and Charlie slept in his mosquito net.
Stats on the day:
3 creek crossings
1 broken facemask
1 flat tire
-1 JT t-shirt
3 very tired actuaries