Cambodia , a small populous nation south east of China is famous for its rich culture , pre historic works of art and a bloody civil war under a barbarian regime. Up until recently Cambodia was still considered one of the darkest places on earth , courtesy the Vietnam War which spilled on to its soils too( Vietnam , Cambodia and Laos are close neighbours) , an equally devastating and brutal regime of Khmer Rouge. It did not see much of the outer world till late , only a few bunch of odd tourists were found visiting there marveling the old sculpted temples dating back a good few hundred years in history. Its virtually untouched civilization and bizarre ways of life almost shunned from the growth witnessed in other regions brought the unconventional tourist looking an out of world charm in an equally ‘out of world place’ . That was until someone figured out the terrain of its inner regions and chanced upon a dirt bike to explore its mountains and valleys.
Suddenly in the 90’s, the charm of Cambodia broke upon the world , nature enthusiast’s flocked in droves to experience the latest thrill of ‘ joys on a toy’. The rough rugged and wild terrain of mountains in Cambodia bought new tourists to its shores , few out of sheer curiosity and few to experience its blast from the dirt bikes. Till date Textiles and Tourism remain the main contributing factors to its small economy. A great country for adventure bikers to explore ,pump adrenaline with cruising through rainforests dotted with waterfalls , crossing rapids with your bicycle in tow , whooshing past rice paddy fields with friendly locals cheering as you make your way through uncharted territories or if your lucky enough an occasional sighting of wild elephants grazing in the grass. Cambodia offers many adventurous avenues to let your hair down on a cheerful holiday with like minded tourists without worrying about being stranded during emergencies or breakdowns.
Since the growth of adventure bicyclists many reputed travel agencies have set foot here designing a comprehensive pocket friendly tour package depending on the nature and size of travel. Bike here are available for cheap , less than 6$ for a day which you can use for off-roading or trail biking. Many roads still remain in bad conditions but the potholes are generous and best for biker, with flat unpaved pathways adorned with the tracks of previous cyclists. Don’t want to follow a conventional path? Your tour guides can arrange one for you with a small fee, a troupe heads out into the wild everyday with a dedicated van following with essential supplies (for a flat tire or a breakdown) and enough edible ‘ammunition’ to last you for days while you seek the calling of your heart. Night halts are provided hotels lined on the ways or if you want a taste of the local hospitality (locals are very hospitable and friendly), a stay with a family in the villages can be arranged. Ensure you have enough mosquito repellents and a strong stomach to digest the food. Tours are also organized between cities( Phnom Penh to Angkor or even to Saigon in Vietnam) apart from local destinations . The ride takes one along temples dotting the country side(architectural wow’s) especially Ta Phrom temple on the Siem reap-Angkor complex which is embraced by the gigantic roots of the fig trees and enormous creepers or from Sihanouk Ville to Chai Phat along endless curls of mountain ways lined with shady trees and sugarcane plantations, untouched by civilizations due to its hard unapproachable routes and terrains and yet bicycle friendly . A night halt in a jungle cabin complete with hammocks and bonfire replicate pictures once found only in fantasy destinations ,a long day of pedaling through a wide territory culminates with a warm shower and hot soup before you tuck in and ascend on another trek tomorrow.
The terrain in Cambodia is mostly flat , ideal for both novice and expert riders but can choose harder terrains based on their comfort at cycling. Just a fifteen minute ride from capital Phnom Penh brings you to the outskirts with series of shimmering paddy fields as company whilst you zoom past them in a cloud of dust towards the more majestic rainforests and temples. A typical tour might involve cycling at at a leisurely pace with steady ascends , waging through wet fields and waterfalls, encountering rocky terrain and possibly a flat tire too(help is behind you ), tugging your bike when the terrain is rough and slushy and sometimes crossing a river in a bamboo thatched boat alongside postcard scenery , clear blue waters and lush green mountains. A stay here with the locals is a must if you’re willing to try their authentic dishes and old folklore from their rich history they take pride in
For a few dollars more you can lay your hands on a dirtbike too. These badass monsters offer double the pace and ruggedness than a conventional bicycle. Treaded tires means its easier to push through dry sands and slush , encounter stomach churning flips and playing dirty. Few annual dirtbike races are also held here thanks to the perfect weather and conditions aplenty.
Cambodia truly is a bikers paradise, no enthusiast has ever gone back disappointed or without an upbeat mood . A biker can spend time snorkeling, kayaking in rapids , cross country cycling through wild terrains, back flipping into waterfalls after a long day of pedaling to enjoying conversations and food on a bonfire before retiring to a well earned sleep on a lazy hammock only to wake up and do the same albeit at a different pace and a different place.