EASY RIDER: Chris Idle takes a break from the saddle outside Phnom Penh's National Museum.
Atrip with a diffference across Cambodia came to an ignominious end for an Australian
Chris Idle, an air traffic controller, spent two-and-a-half weeks attempting to cycle
from Bangkok to Phnom Penh.
But after hundreds of kilometers in the saddle he was defeated by Cambodia's infamous
roads when he was just hours away from the capital.
His adventure came to a halt on National Highway 5 between Pursat and Kampong Chhnang,
after he had cycled more than 700 kilometers.
He said: "I was setting off early in the morning so I could go most of the way
out of the heat of the afternoon sun. I had not slept well at all before my final
day so wasn't feeling good and then I came across a stretch of road works where the
surface consisted of large rocks and muddy sections.
"If I cycled over it I figured I would have either broken a wheel or my neck.
"I had planned to get a pickup truck only to Kampong Chnnang but when the driver
said 'Phnom Penh?' I just thought, 'that sounds good'.
"At first I felt pretty disappointed about the whole thing because I was looking
forward to cycling into Phnom Penh with a sense of achievement, but I was so fatigued
after two- and-a-half weeks on the road I'm sure I did the right thing."
Idle's route took him from Ayutthaya, an hour's drive north of Bangkok, to the Cambodia
border at Poipet and into Phnom Penh via Siem Reap, Battambang and Pursat.
He says more and more tourists are choosing to cycle across Cambodia because of its
flat territory and the world class attraction of Angkor Wat.
"Cycling gave me the chance to see the real Cambodia; in almost every village
where I stopped for a cold drink people gave me a great welcome and I found sugar
cane juice to be the best form of refreshment ever!
"The people were the highlight of my trip; everywhere I went children were popping
out to shout hello, and young people on motorbikes would even ride up alongside me
and start a conversation while I was pedaling furiously.
"The lows were the heat, the dust and obviously the roads. The stretch from
Poipet to Siem Reap was one of the worst, and it was so dusty that days afterwards
I was still covered in orange mud no matter how many times I showered.
"I spent a week at Angkor Wat and could have easily spent two there. It was
supposed to give me a break from riding but there was so much to see I spent day
after day on my bike exploring."
Idle kept an online diary, where visitors can also view a map showing the route he
Internet links: http://members.optusnet.com.au/cidle