How many times have friends, or relatives of a friend of a vaguely remembered work colleague who is mysteriously a Facebook friend, come to stay in Siem Reap and called on you to show them the sights?
You do your best to show them as much as possible: trudge through every temple, eat yucky spiders, get fleeced at a market, devour a delicious amok, and have way too many massages, not that this is actually quantifiable.
Finally they leave, thrilled with their experiences, but all too often they haven’t really seen the back and beyond of Cambodia, the villages and the beautiful countryside.
But now, with the application of a little “Vorsprung durch Technik”, this needn’t happen again thanks to new company, Khmer Ways. The business was started by German Benny Kremer and Swiss Jordan Kunder, who acquired a small fleet of 125cc Honda scooters to take people on guided tours to places they’d otherwise never see.
But the Hondas are not just any old motos. The back wheels have been tricked out with knobbly tires, and there are gorgeous little lunch baskets at the front.
These features are very much part of the logic of Khmer Ways.
“We don’t want to sell only a tour,” says Alex, another member of the team. “People want authentic experiences. They want to feel like locals, and the motos are the way the locals move about. So, to integrate, to get to know the country, to go to the places where they go, this is the best way. We try to make customers comfortable, but a little bit adventurous as well.”
Jordan adds, “We never go on the main roads, we only cross them.”
Customers don’t need to know how to ride a moto before going on a Khmer Ways tour. Guests are collected, given a briefing, and then taught how to ride the bike if they don’t already know how.
Various tours are available, from half-day and full-day journeys to a three-day trip to Preah Vihear and a five-day Mekong Discovery Tour.
The routes have been planned based on the experiences of Kremer as he’s been racing along the back roads of Cambodia for years.
Every detail has been attended to as well.
“We spent a fortune on helmets until we got to the ones we liked,” says Kremer. And there’s even sunscreen and a branded scarf in each lunch basket.
The Countryside Adventure tour is a full-day, 75 kilometre trip that takes in Phnom Bok and ventures up to the highest viewpoint in the area. From there, it’s on to a remote, recently restored reservoir for a gourmet picnic by the water. Continuing on, guests then visit Chao Srei Vibol, a lovely forest-covered temple.
And as Alex stresses, “It’s astonishing what lies just a few kilometres outside of Siem Reap.”