Tuesday, January 14, 2014

26. Battambang - Anlong Veng, or:
Battambang - Nang Rong, Thailand

350 km, 9.5 hours

I gave myself until Banteay Chhmar on Highway 56, some 75 km north of Sisosphon, where Route 56 would turn into a dirt road, to make a decision to continue to Anlong Veng, former hometown of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge leader, or whether to turn towards O'Smarch, a small border crossing into Thailand.

Well, it all turned differently.

I should have been warned when I stopped for a drink of water at a roundabout in Sisophon and I saw the road sign: 

BANTEAY CHHMAR: 61,200 km! Well, that doesn't sound good!

Of course, a small crowd quickly gathered to see what's up, like always.

Directly after the turn onto the new direction towards Banteay Chhmar the road starts to turn horrible.
Since there is some construction, mainly water main and sewer work going on I thought the road gets better when I leave the town. 

I was wrong.

The road condition slowly but steadily deteriorates.

When I meet trucks going the other direction or when they are in front of me, visibility is less than 10 meters. Not good.

The gravel road starts soon having sections of very fine, flour-like sand. I pass extremely slowly through those without going down (!), some 5 km more and I come to an extended narrow sand bed, where I decide to turn around. There is no way I will ride another 70 km just to get to the turn where -according to my map- the road condition is supposed to worsens. 

This causes a 100 km detour, more or less, and soon I am at the most feared border crossing between Thailand and Cambodia, Poipet. As usual, the Cambodian side poses no problems whatsoever, but the Customs and Immigration handling (And the game: Here comes a Farang, lets have him struggle, sweat and wait a little!) on the Thai side is as inconvenient as everybody says. After almost 2 hours at the border I am back in Thailand. One has to keep composure.

The road from the border at Poipet/Sa Keo to my destination tonight, Nang Rong, Buriram Province, leads through a very nice, hilly landscape, large eucalyptus plantations and rice fields. I was lucky enough to have a few big lorries in front of me which just unloaded fresh cut eucalyptus wood at the processing plant. The scent is amazing if you follow them. And the roads are very good!

Tomorrow I will continue to the famous ruins of Preah Vihear. I will try an access from the Thai side; my attempt to reach the temples from the Cambodian side failed. So what.

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