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Pedal-powered visits to the countryside keep it green, lean

Pedal-powered visits to the countryside keep it green, lean

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Enjoying the gentle pleasures of Cambodia’s rural daily life and picturesque environment.

Bicycling to the beach lets you soak in the views – and your shirt – for an eco-friendly road trip

Having been in Cambodia for one month, I was curious to explore the countryside. For me, the best way to see a country is by bicycle as it is eco-friendly and good for the body.

I chose an itinerary offered by Grasshopper Adventures as they offered the best value. Grasshopper Adventures is part of Vicious Cycles, a business co-op on Street 130 that includes a cafe, bike-repair shop, and laundry service. I chose a 320-kilometre tour that explored the south coast. Costs covered bike rental, guide, accommodation and most meals.

Day 1 – Phnom Penh to Takeo (82 km)
I was greeted at the shop by my guide, Sokhom.
Although the tour starts with a stop at the Killing Fields, I opted out because I wanted to spend more time cycling.

Sokhom said, “Would you like to visit my hometown?” He was referring to Takhmau, a town 9 kilometers southeast of the capital. A highlight of this leg was seeing the vendors in different areas selling their local specialties. One group sold fried frogs that tasted like crisps. Others further south served fresh BBQ frogs – tasting like chicken.

Right before Takeo, we took a detour onto a dirt road to see rice paddies. In the middle of a lake was a house that once belonged to Khmer Rouge chief of staff Ta Mok.

Day 2 – Takeo to Kep (104 km)
We headed out at 7am and after about two hours we turned into a rural road surrounded by rice paddies and rolling hills with temples atop.
This leg provided a more “countryside” feeling as we passed through remote villages.

Pit stops were rewarded with sugar cane juice and fresh fruit. We had minced frogs and salted fish for lunch.

It started to rain as we rode into Kep in the late afternoon. We checked in at the posh Beach House. Look forward to dining on succulent, sumptuous seafood by the Meas Pov restaurant on the beach laden with dreamy hammocks and breezes.

Day 3 – Kep to Kampot (25 km)
I started the day with a ride to Kep National Park, which offered spectacular views of the coast.
We passed boat villages and towns composed of Cham Muslims. The many mosques and Chinese-style graves made me appreciative of Cambodia’s diversity.

As we arrived in Kampot, heavy rain appeared. Covered in mud, we checked in at Sen Monorom Guesthouse. I wanted to see a rehearsal session at the Kampot Traditional Music School, but the school was closed on Saturdays. I did get a massage at Seeing Hands Massage 5, where blind masseurs/masseuses can give you a shiatsu treatment for $4 per hour.

Day 4 – Kampot to Sihanoukville (108 km)
The final leg of our journey was all rain and big hills. Riding with a poncho is as cumbersome as riding with a parachute so I didn’t mind being drenched. Knowing that our final destination was awaiting us motivated us to complete the leg faster than anticipated.

Day 5 – Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh (bus)
Normally, customers choose to stay longer in Sihanoukville, but I had to return back to Phnom Penh for work.

In my final day, I woke up at sunrise and strolled along the beach and watched fishermen cast their nets. I got back to the guesthouse for a Western-style breakfast before browsing the assorted stores in the town. After enjoying some ice cream at Gelato Italiano, I visited dive shops on Seredipity Beach for tour information.

The tour was enjoyable, providing lots of cycling time while allowing me my own pace.

My guide allowed me to stop for photos as much as I liked. So next time you wish to see Cambodia instead of driving or taking the bus, do consider cycling.

For more information, visit Grasshopper Adventures/Vicious Cycle, 29 Street 130 opposite the Indochine 2 Hotel, 016 337 363, www.grasshopperadventures.com

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