[YEAR 7!] Quit our jobs, sold our home, gone riding...

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We walked into a restaurant and because we didn't speak Khmer and were unable to read the menu, we just pointed at what other people were eating

I have no idea what it was, some kind of stir fried meat and vegetables topped with a fried egg on top. It was delicious! And so glad they also had our favorite beer in stock: Black Panther! Yesssss! What a great end to a fabulous day of dirt-riding!

That night, we slept the sleep of the dead. So exhausted!

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The next morning. Preparing to leave Pramaoy

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On our way out of the Cardamom Mountains. The Chinese have graded the gravel road back to civilization. Nice!

What a ride! A little bit of adventure, plenty of beautiful untouched nature, delicious mystery meat and exciting dirt roads. This was hands-down one of our favorite experiences in SE Asia!
 

wildorange

Observer
That last YT clip Is brilliant, Its interesting to see how quiet those roads are.

Neda, walk the bike to the hotel (18km)

Gene: What!

Still laughing getting stuck, all part of the experience and enjoy.

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We wheel into the bustling city of Battambang feeling weary, dirty and exhausted. Did I mention we were tired as well?

From here, it's merely a day's ride away from the Thai border and good thing too: our export license on our bike expires in three days. Thailand want's our Thai-registered bikes back in the home country. Such a strange rule...

It's been a hectic ride through Cambodia, but we made it!

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View of the temple next door to our hotel

Battambang is the second-largest city in Cambodia, but it doesn't have nearly the same amount of traffic and congestion. We like that.

Our hotel that we booked online is right downtown on the main street. Close to all the shops and restaurants, nice buildings in the area, but we're not that happy with the noise from the trucks passing by our window and the rooms are not that nice or clean. We don't like that...

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After checking in, we go walking around Battambang. This is not our hotel...
 
We found a stall that served some fluffy crepes with bean sprouts, chicken and vegetables stuffed inside.

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Although her English wasn't that good, the woman cooking was cracking jokes and making us LOL!

Her English was much better than our Khmer, and it goes to show you don't need to master a language to have your good humour show! Great food too!

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Neda found a cross-stitching friend in the market!

We spent one night in the hotel on the busy main street. With a couple of days left on our motorcycle export papers, we went out in search of a nicer place to stay.

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Relocation time
 
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Look what we found! It has a pool!

We found another place a bit further from the centre of town, it was like a resort! Perfect, tranquil setting!

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Neda gets a chance to work on her cross-stitching. It looks like she's almost done!

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Wheeling the bike out to go in search of food
 
There are very few tourists walking around Battambang. It doesn't have the cosmopolitan appeal of Phnom Penh, nor the pull of the magnificent temples in Siem Reap, and it doesn't have the beaches that the sun-seeking Barangoes flock to in Sihanoukville. We like that a lot!

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A local restaurant around the corner

On the menu we saw "Happy Pizza" and "Happy Milkshakes". What makes it so "happy", you may ask?

Cannabis!

Although marijuana is technically illegal in Cannabodia, it seems to be tolerated and there are some restaurants and bars that spike their food and drinks with pot. Then they label it "Happy" and the authorities turn a blind eye to it. That's pretty dope.

The best kind of Happy Pizza is vegetarian, since it's specially made for Herbivores. Each pizza comes with 2 cans of Pringles, and a whole tub of ice cream. You know, for after...

Besides getting stoned, there little draw for tourists to do in Battambang. The biggest attraction is Phare Ponleu Selpak, the Cambodian circus!

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We sneak backstage to watch the young performers train before the big show.

Phare Ponleu Selpak is more than a circus. It had its roots in the aftermath of the Khmer Rouge genocide, which decimated the adult population of Cambodia. In 1986, a French humanitarian worker came to work with the kids left behind in the refugee camps. One of her approaches was art therapy, allowing the children to express their trauma through drawing.

That small group of kids grew up and eventually went on to found an arts centre here in Battambang. In 1996, a music program was added. In 1998, a circus was added and it has grown in leaps and bounds (pun intended) since then. Graduates from the circus program eventually go on to perform around the world, ending up in world-class troupes like the Cirque du Soleil, and then often returning to give their time back and teaching the next generation of kids at Phare Ponleu Selpak.

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Every evening, the school puts on a show, showcasing the young students performing talents in music, dance and acrobatics
 
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Taditional Cambodian dance

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And then the circus begins!

After what this country has been through, watching these kids fly through the air, I felt a bit proud to be supporting them in some way. Our admission fee and donations from sponsors allow 1,400 students a year to receive free schooling and basic education, plus the ability to attend any of the arts, music and performance classes.

If you feel like supporting them, please visit their site:

https://phareps.org/make-a-donation/
 
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Some music, some slap-stick comedy, very entertaining!

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And then more eye-popping aerial gymnastics!

Tomorrow we leave Cambodia and re-enter Thailand. Then one final push and we'll be in Chiang Mai.

Although we're really looking forward to the long, extended break, we're also a bit sad that we're leaving this beautiful country. Something about it really resonated with us. It had just the right amount of exotic appeal and adventure, it was friendly and inviting, but most of all, it seemed undiscovered and under-the-radar - due in part to the complications in overlanding across the border.

And we also enjoyed the pace! Over the last few years, we've either felt too rushed or too slow. The perfect pace seems so elusive. And despite our initial misgivings about only being given 14 days to see this country, it was actually the perfect amount of time for us, just enough calendar room to give us a goal to ride towards, but not short enough to make us feel rushed.

Strange, isn't it?

Thank you, Thai customs people!
 

wildorange

Observer
Gene & Neda,

Great images of your travels, I'm not sure if your aware however Chang Mai has recently had small protests so it maybe worth checking for local updates.

I believe the protest related to 'real estate' disagreements in the area.

It maybe isolated and you not see it but just thought you might want to know.


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The yo-yo is coiling back up the string, returning to the hand that spun it out so long ago.

For non-nomadic travelers, every trip is a loop. Whether by motorcycle, car or plane, you always go back to the place you started. Just like a yo-yo, what goes out, must come back in again.

Because we're storing bikes in Croatia and Thailand, we now have places where we know we'll have to return. So now we've gotten little bit of that yo-yo mentality. Different if we had stored cellos in different places. Then we would have the Yo-Yo-Ma mentality...

(Cello, is it me you're looking for?)

That start/end point is now in sight. It's been over ten long months since we left and Chiang Mai is now only a handful of days away.

It's looking like an oasis of rest in this desert of fatigue that we've been crawling through.

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We're reversing our route out of Cambodia, so back to that funky motel
that we staged at the day before crossing over


The O'Smach border post, the same one we crossed to get into Cambodia, falls behind us without incident.

After worrying so much about customs, corrupt border officials, etc. the whole thing turned out to be so anti-climactic.

Not complaining.

In the morning, before we embark on this final leg, I replace the fuses on our bikes to re-enable the daylight running lights, the reverse of what I did before we entered Cambodia and that sense of unwinding returns.

The mood today is a quiet weariness. We pack in relative silence with the end of our long travels within sight. We should be in Chiang Mai within two sleeps.

It's comforting to be back in Thailand after two weeks in Cambodia. Although it's not as exotic and alluring, there's a certain familiarity to all the 7-11s, PTT gas stations, smiling Sawadee-kahs, driving on the left once again, etc. Also, the food is a lot better. I remember the first thing we did yesterday upon crossing the border was to find a food stall and order our favorites, Pad Thai, Pad See-Ew...

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Lanna temples, lit up at night in Kohn Kaen

It's a long day's ride to the city of Kohn Kaen. The last time we were here, we stayed a bit outside of the city. Now, we find a place right in town.

Gotta change *some* things up a bit!
 

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