Zero dark hundred hours in departing from Chau Doc today for a 130 km day of cycling, with a border crossing In between. Initially following some hinterland, canals and seeing mountain ranges in the distance for a final look at Vietnam and with glimpses to the Cambodian border ahead. Nice views of the famous Mountain Lady Temple early hours on leaving Chau Doc with market sellers hard at it selling the local delicacy, pickled fish and shrimp, at the main gates of the temple.
We decided to push it a bit harder and further before a break (approx 2 hrs) at dawn to beat the heat and flies in this part of the world. Lots of gumtrees along the canal which made us feel like we're riding in South Australia or around Montville Sunshine Coast (according to Troy and Giles). So I thought it appropriate to put on a song " Bound for South Australia" by the Seekers, just to make the lads feel at home as we were cycling along.
Local trading along the canal (Rach) during the whole journey, as usual, but one unusual breakfast offer in this part of Vietnam; snakes, rats and bats. Giles tested a snake to see if it was fresh enough for the breakfast table but we all declined. Was it the selling price $12 USD or just the thought of eating those unusual commodities for breakfast???? Anyhow, we opted for baguettes and peanut butter instead.
Finally, we arrived at the border after 100 km of a fairly easy road , overcast, occasional sun, but very humid conditions which made my gel liner inside my prosthetic limb bring on a lot of sweating of my stump than normal. We said our final goodbyes to Prince (the guide) Zung and Neeson (the drivers) in Hat Tien before we crossed into Cambodia for phase three Kep to Koh Khong (Thailand).
After going through normal formalities at both the Vietnamese and Cambodian immigration, successfully getting all our gear transferred to another support vehicle, and meeting our new guide Phea, a Cambodian national, and driver Mr.Vong we got underway to start riding in a new country (30 km more onto Kep) for all of us who hadn't visited Cambodia before (new pastures).
There was hardly a car on the road to worry about, in comparison, it was a big cultural shock; not to be dodging and weaving in amongst motor bikes, cars, trucks, buses and people in general. I really had to scratch my head because the last 42 days was cycling in very dangerous cycling conditions at its very worst and now not a thing to worry about. I'm hoping it stays that way through Cambodia just to ease the stress for us all, for awhile at least. Hmmmmmmm!! Not sure what tomorrow brings.
The last 30 km in Cambodia onto our night stop in Kep was hellish. We hit a storm front and battled very strong headwinds and side winds all the way. Troy said he felt like Captain Dan sitting at the top of Forest Gump's boat in a storm at which time prompted him (Troy) to started yelling "You call that a storm !!! Come and get me !!!" For those that have seen the movie "Forest Gump"
A big day of riding, but a sad day for me , after almost 2 months on the road in Vietnam (42 days of riding), an outstanding send off by the Australian Embassy staff in Hanoi ( 12th May), meeting some marvelous people throughout the whole country of Vietnam, seeing and experiencing diverse cultures and sub-cultures, getting to meet and interview many Vietnamese War veterans , some disabled with physical and mental scars from their time at war, and finally closing a chapter to my life by meeting (in dialogue) with some former NVA and Vietcong soldiers from the Vietnamese War Veterans Association (Ba Ria) who I can sincerely say are now friends.
A new phase begins in Cambodia now before arriving in Thailand in 5 days time.
Kep is a tiny coastal province in southern Cambodia, known for its seafood and tropical islands. The relaxed provincial capital of Kep, or Krong Kaeb, has wide streets with crumbling villas that recall its former glory as a French colonial resort town. Kep Beach has calm waters and a promenade with statues, while vendors line the waterfront at the nearby crab market.
Area: 336 km²
Population: 40,280 (2009)
xin chao va tam biet
Truck, Troy and Giles on the long ride home .