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Cycling Holiday in Cambodia!

Holiday time so that means my wife and I like to travel. I just put her in a box (with holes) and flew to Bangkok. No drama. A little ride from Bangkok across to Cambodia around that country and back into Thailand.

(The Dead Kennedy's said don't forget to pack a wife!) great album!! FFFRV

Diary Entries

Tuesday, 23 May 2006

Location: At Home in Hangzhou, China

At least for a while longer...
I thought I'd better update this page as the University is currently holding an exhibition of my photos. Quite flattering really. I'm getting a lot of feedback as well and students and professors alike seem to dig the photos. All very nice!

Getting fairly close to time for me to fly back to Australia and visit Sydney, for the first time in nearly 3 years. Even though I was away for longer last time, I was coming back from Canada, albeit via India and Bangladesh. This time I haven't even seen a western city - except on TV (Which I try to avoid!)

It's been a good start to the year with many friends coming to visit and of course the trip to Cambodia, which was very enjoyable. A highlight was finally getting to visit Beijing with my mum and brother, Roger a couple of months back.

But this latest chapter is drawing to a close fairly quickly. It was a wise decision to come east to the Chinese coast and in particular to choose Hangzhou. It really is a lovely city and a wonderful place to host visitors. Saying that, there're many things I miss about Yunnan and Xishuangbanna in particular.

But I know I'll miss this place equally. I've made quite a few good friends and the sad part is that some I've only really gotten to know in the last couple of months. I'll miss them.

Of course I'm going to miss this food terribly. True, I'm going back to Sydney - one of the great gourmet capitals of the world BUT, it's not China, and I suspect the food just won't taste the same. (Truth be I just couldn't face another bowl of rice - or anything rice-based, and have just devoured a tasty pizza!)

So....amigos y I sit in a lovely cafe overlooking gorgeous West Lake and raise my coffee cup to you all!

Saturday, 28 January 2006

Location: Koh Chang Island, Thailand


Still bumming about on this lovely island off the coast of Trat in the southeast of Thailand. Stayed longer than I thought I would. Little desire to head back to Bangkok, and Hangzhou is still chilly.

I stay at the far end of White Sandy Beach (imaginative name indeed), and you have to actually walk out through the surf to get there so it's very quiet.

Basically my arduous daily consists of:

(1) lying in a hammock and reading, or day-dreaming with the roll of the surf (if the book is too heavy)
(2) swimming (lots of nice fishies) & riding my bike (lots of horrible steep!)
(3) drinking 1 delicious coffee at 11am
(4) eating delicious Thai seafood curries..mmmm..
(5) writing my memoirs of said activities

and, feeling particularly exhausted after such toil, I am

(6) sleeping a great deal!

Well, it all comes to end in a couple of days when I fly back to the reality of those crisp Hangzhou days. nice to see pals.

See some of you soon, and the rest.....just exercise your empathy in the interim.

Sunday, 22 January 2006

Location: Koh Chang Island, Thailand

Quite a while then since my last instalment! I am now relaxing on the lovely island of Koh Chang in the Gulf of Thailand before I head back home to China.

To recap on that wonderful last leg in Cambodia (NO PUN):

Jan 15th : Sihanoukville - Sre Ambel = 100km

Found a shortcut outta S'ville very early in the morning, got over the hills and outta town and then rerode the road (sounds odd!) back to the town of Veal Rinh. Here I hooked up with the main P.P. - S'ville highway and its the best road I saw in Cambodia so I flew along to the Sre Ambel turn-off.

Sre Ambel had become one of those mysterious places that captures the imagination. It was a smugglers port but doesn't seem to be very important these days. the road instantly turns to dust off the highway but it's not too hard to S.A.

Went for walk at 7:30 but everything was completely closed-down so no chance of food. 4 boiled eggs for dinner.

Jan 16th : Sre Ambel - Ta Tai (4th river) = 120km (not easy)

This was the biggest ride of the trip and not easy. Hot, hilly and dusty I was slightly worried that there would be nowhere to stay in this part of the country. It was a fear not unfounded.

The total distance to Koh Kong was not as great as I'd thought. From S.A. just 144km! But not an easy ride. No shade and no good surface. I crashed pretty early in the day as a went downhill over a sandbank. Not really hurt but a few scratches that began to sting in the afternoon heat.

Also ran over a slithering snake in the morning (first time!). It was a great ride and more challenging than other days in the country so i was happy. Reached the 3rd river after about 90km and had had enough really but found there wasnowhere to stay in the small town. tried to find locals to take me in but no luck.

I met a German, Peter, travelling from his home in S'ville to his other home in Bangkok and he told me of a German guy at the next river who had a room I could stay in. Wasn't too clear and the distance to the next river was at least 30km over some more mountains so I wasn't sure I could make it before night but I had little option but to try.

So took off again and just as darkness started to fall hit the descent to the river after a tough ride. The river was bathed in moonlight as I reached the ferry and asked for "German Hans". Locals told me to cross the river so I did. (4 ferries in one day is another record!) Jesus would've had fun!

Off the ferry on the other side and found the little place easily. Peter had told Hans I might arrive and Peter had decided to stay too. We spent the evening chatting on the bank of this beautiful river. I slept in the floating hut after a swim in the river to dust off being warned about crocodiles rather belatedly. A great day ended and I wasn't eaten.

Jan 17th : Ta Tai - Koh Kong - Ban Mai Rut (THAILAND ) = 55km

the morning ride was steep over the largest of the mountains on this dirt road but adter that it was okay. The road improved as I hit Koh Kong. I decided not to stay and just headed straight for the border. A long bridge and a viscious headwind and then... Thailand. No poblem!

Back on the fine roads and the fine food.

Jan 18th : Ban Mai Rut - Trat - Koh Chang Island = 108km

Pleasant enough riding but not particularly interesting. After Cambo Thailand is pretty dull and modern. reached Trat and was a little surprised by how small it is. So, uncharmed by the town, I elected to make for the ferry and the island of Koh Chang. And that's where you'll find me to this day!

Note : cycling in Cambodia is wonderful and made me recall Myanmar. there is so much life roadside and so many smiles that encourage you. I LOVED IT!!

Friday, 13 January 2006

Location: Sihanoukville, Cambodia

9/1 : Phnom Penh - Choeng Ek (Killing Fields) - Chhuk = 120km

It was fun hanging out in Phnom Penh. Stayed near the lake in the north of the small city and relaxed quite a lot. It's a pleasant city reminded me slightly of Vientianne in Laos. Had enough after 2 days and a bit so left and on the way outta town stopped in at The Killing Fields (Choeng Ek). Pretty chilling to see the place where the Khmer Rouge executed so many thousand.

Finding my wayfrom there back to a main road south was difficult but after a number of dirt roads and lanes I reconnected with the road south to Takeo province. Enjoyable riding again but hot come the afternoon so decided to stay at Chhuk (yes..that's pronounced "CHOOK" for all my old mates) Dreadful place unfortunately. Lots of insects and no food.

10/1 : Chhuk - Kampot - Kep = 88km

Early start again and easy ride to Kampot which was rather drab and disappointing. Decided to skip the Kampot experience and ride onto the beach area of Kep. Good choice. Stayed in a hammock on the beach and drank juice and ice coffee. kep was a French resort area through the 60's and until Pol Pot's mob ran amok. It's still in decay with lots of buildings in cluding the palace riddled with bullet holes.

Took a boat out to Rabbit island and that was fantastic. First time I'd been in the sea for 2 years! Stayed out there all day, hammock. eating fish. Lovely! Highly recommended.

12/1 : Kep - Kampot - Sihanoukville = 129km

Got up at 4:30 next morning as I thought it would be a long day on the bike. Not that bad really. Some crap dusty roads but nothing I'd complain about (all things considered) Some hills coming into tourist town Sihanoukville but wow! the beaches are lovely and the water is great. So that's where I am right now. After this dispatch I'm off to the beach for an afternoon dip and an Iced Coffee.

What are you doing?????

Saturday, 07 January 2006

Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

This entry has been entered belatedly - mostly in the case of other cyclists checking out info.

Battambang -> Pursat -> Kompong Chnnang -> Phnom Penh

Jan 3rd : Battambang -> Pursat = 109km

Road improves on this stretch as I'm now on the better highway. Flat as.. and reaching Pursat is no drama. A drab and uninspiring town, it has a nice restaurant - The Co-op place. Nice food and fruit shakes!

Jan 4th : Pursat -> Kompong Chnnang = 96km

Nice riding again and pretty easy, just gets hot around lunch time.

Jan 5th : Kompong Chnnang -> PHNOM PENH = 91km

A very straight-forward and quick ride to Phnom Penh. Road gets quite smooth near town and it's not hard to ride into this small city. Found the lake area pretty easily and stayed there a few days.

Tuesday, 03 January 2006

Location: Battambang, Cambodia

Very tired so this entry will be short. Now firmly in Cambodia. I left Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) this morning and took the boat across the lake and up the river to this lovely little town. In fact it's the secnd largest city in Cambo!

Late night last as I ran into an old mate - Nathan from Uni and Bondi. We just spotted each other at Angkor Wat. SO beers last night and then very disorganised this morning.

The part in Thailand was straight-forward. Got to the border and kissed the good roads and the mod cons goodbye and into the old Cambo. The change is pretty startling and charming in a way.

To recount...

30/12 : Road the afternoon from Poipet - Sisophon (60km) rough.

31/12 : Sisophon - Siem Reap = 107km very silty road.
Next morning up early and very hard road (DUST!) to Siem Reap. What a change tourist dollars bring! Smooth roads again and pancakes and pizza. Spent 3 nights in the Sydney Hotel. (Great)

An afternoon and best part of the next day were spent tooling around Angkor. It's a beautiful place but I found the time enough.

Home to bed now - early start tomorrow for Phnom Penh.

Photos - Click Below

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Recent Messages

From jebon
hi courtney ,it's my first time to come to your's interesting.unbelievable ,you have been so many place!
you are a energetic guy!
Response: hi jebon! glad you got to see it. yes i get around but i think i'm starting to get tired now....
From Cathy
Mr Cook,
How have you been? I miss you very much ,I hope you are
very happy every day
Moday,1 May 2006
From vic
him, sir what's up these days?a week ago,i saw you in the school with a beautiful girl.haha..... i think you are happy!i miss you so much!
Response: thanks vic - i'm enjoying my may day break. see you around.
From Stephanie
hi!courtney,i 'm so happy to recieve your emails,i'm thingking you must forget me.i haven't surfing in the internet for a long time ,so i didn't respons your emails untill now .i have watched your wonderful photoes in Thailand,you always full of energy as before,knowing you and your wife are well ,i'm so happy.i'm in jinghong now,every thing is well,hopping you can happy every day and take care of yourself! and say hello to your fiends! (my email address didnt
Response: my pleasure! how's things out there? i'm getting ready to leave china in june. everything fine.
From sid
Mr.Cook, you big tart...are you back...wheres the girl...all good more work and I got the bonus..everything cool..I'll e-mail you...Sid.
Response: howdee former pardner

glad to hear you're cashed-up for the dash from yangshuo. good luck with the half-better
From Angel
Hello, Courtney,
So nice to hear that. After tow days, we welcome the sping festival. I also want to go to travel, but I don't save up enough money. Hoho.
Response: this year i hope you can travel. have a wonderful spring festival and see you soon in hangzhou. i'm relaxing, reading on the beach and swimming!
From bryan moylan
great photos
happy trails and safe biking for the rest of your travels
thanks mate! the biek get ridden every couple of days. mostly i'm swimming a lot. smoe nice riding but very tough - steep and dangerous!
From zinnia
hey when are you coming back to bangkok? cant wait to see you again. hope enjpying the trip. take care and see you soon. send email.
i emaiiled you twice but you didn't reply. i'm not sure yet but quite soon i think.
From Sunny
The pictures are beautiful,now I know why you like travelling.I hope my next holiday aslo can have a trip
Thank you Sunny! yes I have had a great time and wiil return to China soon. See you then.
From brie
have a wonderfull time am very jaleous x bier
Response: yeah thanks i'll keep up the hard work!
From Vicky
Hi, Mr.Cook , i have seen your beautiful and lovely pictures. How i envy you! Have a good time and take care of your wife !!!haha....
Response: thanks vicky, i am having a nice time here and enjoy the warmth and sunshine! c u soon!
From freddychef
whaddayaat....yeah keep er steady big biker...who ya travellin with now???
I am watching your every move
Enjoy the trip. See you April.
Love from your mother.
Response: hello dearest mother
all is going well as you can see. love you too!
From rainbow lang
hi,i have seen your pictures in Thailand maybe and learned some about your wonderful journey.that looks so nice that i'am longing for mine...haha
then, may you all be fine!
Response: thanks miss lang
have a great time on your trip too. next time take your bicycle, perhaps?
From penguin
Could you hide your small kangroo in your pocket,please?You look very nice,boy.Have lots of fun and lots of luck.Say hello to your new friends you had on the way.Love you!J.J
Response: of course ms li, i always look good - especially covered in dirt! love you too. all fine here in cambo.
From Holly
Hi!Mr.Cook.Thank youfor you tell me your email.I will write letters to you.May you everything is fine!
Response: thanks holly! everything is fine and i'm well
From Holly
Hi!Mr.Cook.How have you been recently?I think you are very busy,I hope you can enjoy yourself in HangZhou.Can you tell me you e-mail? But if you feel unconvinient ,you can not tell me?Thank you!
Response: hi holly!

my email address is:

i'll try to answer your messages when i can. good luck with everything. it's nice to here in hangzhou but it's a big city!
From Holly
Hi!Mr.cook,I am your student .Do you know Jim and Steven,I am their classmates.I feel sad when I know you will not come back Jinghong .You are a good teacher ,I will miss you forever.You teached us so long that we learned lots of knowlege.Thank you very much.May you are fine everything .
Response: Hi Holly, thanks for writing. I'm fine and living in Hangzhou. I'll start teaching soon. Sorry I had to leave Jinghong but I know you guys understand.I'll miss you all too! Good luck.
From Lee
Hello.Mr.Cook,i miss you so much.你在哪&#37- 324;?
Response: hi dude! i'm in hangzhou and this is where i live now. how are you all?
From Big Ray
hi court,
great to here from you!!
as its the first i,ve heard from
you since we received your postcard have you been informed about Paul Kennedy.
please email me
Response: g'day morc from orc
i sent you an email last night. drop me a line monday eh?