Monday, January 5, 2015

Sihanoukville - Cham Yeam (Cambodia) Border Check Point, Ban Hat Lek (Thailand)

The ride to the border leaves Sihanoukville on the infamous Cambodian Highway No. 4, the same road one would take when going back to Phnom Penh. The traffic is typically pretty heavy, the great number of big Angkor beer trucks coming from Angkor's (Carlsberg) only Cambodian brewery going mostly to the capital Phnom Penh add to the mix.

The heavy and at times crazy traffic changes completely when turning left from No.4 to the rural highway No. 48 towards the Cardamon Mountains and Thailand. Last year's ride on this road was a challenge, maybe a good third of the stretch from the Cambodian-Thai border to the city of Sihanoukville were still unpaved gravel, or worse, construction sites. Last year I had a near miss on a gravel road when some adventurous Khmer motorist in his old Toyota Camry was passing a truck, gravel was flying everywhere, and he either didn't see me on my lane, or, more likely, he didn't care since two-wheeled vehicles have to go off the road if necessary. However, there was nowhere to go because of the gravel shoulder, and a steep drop.

Now, one full year ahead, much has changed. The road is, with the exception of about 25 km total, in relatively good condition, and best of all, there isn't hardly any traffic. The signs which warn of elephants and dangerous curves add to the entertainment.

Water buffaloes keep nicely to their side of the road.
Cambodia has right hand traffic like the US and Europe, Thailand left-hand traffic.

Overall it is a very pleasant ride through dense jungle territory, few fishing villages, and across nice, well-built and long concrete bridges crossing the rivers, and one long one near Krong Khemara Phoumin, just before the town of Pyam, and reaching the border.

But I wasn't too much contemplating the road condition. My mind was preoccupied with the border crossing technicalities. The motorcycle was an 'undocumented', foreigned-owned vehicle for one full year in Cambodia, and I was not sure what to expect, especially from the Thai Customs people.

Thai border crossing at Ban Hat Lek

I am back in Thailand!
I can now take off my home-made headlight screen, necessary in Cambodia since riding with the lights on is illegal.

After some 4+ hours of pleasant rural countryside riding I reach the border.

The border formalities, my visa and the so-called Thai 'Simplified Vehicle Importation' and 'Thai Conveyance Information' documents (the 'Visa' for the motorcycle were easily obtained, filled-out and stamped, I was completely surprised how easy everything went.

I am now back in Thailand on my way to Bangkok.

Next stop my hosts Chin, from Nantucket and Judy from Canada, the little 'paradise' resort in Mairood, Trat Province, Thailand.

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