The Wolfborn Tour
Part 1.1 of the bikepacking journey from Asia to Europe
Starting the Wolfborn Tour from Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam was a big thrill for us. Big unknown was ahead and we were extremely excited to find out, how is it going to feel to dive deeply into the new environment of Cambodia. What we experienced bikepacking through this country, showed us, how amazing people can be and how much honestly welcoming they are. This part of our tour was mostly about these interactions with the locals.
Riders: Thomas Calcagno & Rafal Ramatowski
Distance: about 690km
Duration: 8 days of touring
Gear: TRESHOMBRES the WOLFBORN
Wheels: TRESHOMBRES 3.8
Shifting Group: Shimano 105 & Shimano Ultegra hydraulic
Bike Bags: Blackburn OUTPOST Series: Carry All Bags, Frame Bags, Seat Pack & Dry Bags, Handlebar Roll & Dry Bags
Tires: WTB Riddler 37c x 700
Ho-Chi-Minh / Vietnam - the beginning
We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on the 10th of April, excited to get a little taste of Vietnam and about visiting our Friends Mateusz and Aga, who live there. We spent these 4 days in Saigon working and preparing for the upcoming tour, assembling the bicycles and planing the route to Cambodia. Good times, good food and great company gave us what we needed to hit the road!
We left Saigon on the 14th of April, making our way through the intense traffic. It was actually super fun and soon the landscape started changing into the countryside. We were planning to get as close to Cambodia as possible. The pace was high and after 95 km we were close to the border. We turned into a small gravel road and found a place to pitch our tents. Local couple noticed us and insisted that we go with them and stay somewhere else, because of the mosquitos. It wouldn't be an issue for us, but they seemed so motivated to show us an alternative, that we decided to follow them and see what happens. Eventually they took us the the small and very affordable guesthouse/farm. We stayed there with the totally fascinated owners, who probably had the opportunity to see the westerners for the first time:)
We reached the Cambodian border in Mok Bai the next morning. They gave us a brand new visa for only 35$, haha, we had to take it ;) All went smooth and we continued towards Phnom Penh. The road to the Capital is rather uninteresting honestly. Intensive traffic, endlessly straight with barely any vegetation on the sides. Fields, sun, heat and a lot of noise. Well, you've gotta go through this to enjoy the paradise the other day.
The dusk came and we turned into a little road, where we wanted to find a place to pitch the tents. It was more difficult actually then we thought, but then for the first time we had the opportunity to experience, how great local people are in Cambodia.
Khmer couple found us trying to find a nice spot to spend the night. Quickly they made us understand, we should follow them. A few kms later we were suddenly at their house. They invited us for dinner, we had more food and drinks, we could ask for, they let us wash ourselves and finally even invited us to their home! Actually in their bed, while they slept on a thin mattress on the floor despite us trying to refuse. The next day they prepared breakfast for all of us, before we left. We could only exchange signs and smiles to communicate. It was an overwhelming experience, we shared with these people. Nothing was fake, it was genuine kindness! Happily for us, it was not the last such fantastic relation we had with the locals!
That day we reached Phnom Penh after 120 km peddling along the motorway. As you might imagine, we were very happy to sleep in proper beds! The plan for the next day was to fix our camera and leave the town asap. It turned out however, that planing during the tour like this changes almost as often as the passing landscapes..
We woke up in the morning and made ourselves on the way to the Canon shop. What we forgot was the fact that it was the last day of the Khmer New Year! Many shops were still closed, unluckily including all the canera shops in town.. Well, it seemed, we had to stay one more night in PP, so we decided to cruise in the city on our Wolfborns and enjoy the special vibe from the Capital, which is really very nice! Not too busy, comparing to the other big cities in SE Asia, lots of cafes, good food and the beautiful Promenade along the Mekong!
The next day we managed to tick out all the Phnom Penh TODOs. We left the capital and found a very pleasant change from the city riding through the Cambodian countryside. The dusk showed up, when we found a lake and a row of empty bungalows/huts at the nearby lake. Not thinking twice we took over one of them and spent the night swinging in the hammocks.
Next morning the weather was really indecisive, sunny, rainy and then suddenly sunny again. We had more time to chill in our little hammock paradise, so we couldn't complain:)
On the way to Siem Reap
The next bigger city on the way was Siem Reap, which we were approaching quickly. The night before getting to the town we stopped by the road in a little shop, exhausted and thirsty. It got dark suddenly, so we asked the owners if we can stay at theirs. Again, amazingly kind and positive people seemed even delighted to have us there, and prepared the beds next to the shop under the roof. Warm feelings were filling our hearts as we were falling asleep.
After having a little breakfast snack with our hosts, we continued to Siem Reap. The Angkor Wat temple complex was awaiting us! We got there relatively early, having, as always, a couple of coconuts on the way :) We had a chance to enjoy the vibe of the town and see what's around. It turned out, to our little disappointment, much more touristic, then we expected, in a bad way it is.. It's pumped with fake, profit-focused intentions somehow, offering typical night party attractions. You might like it though, so don't care reading our impressions, as everyone has their own, and maybe Siem Reap is the place to be for you!
Anyway, Angkor Wat is really impressive, that's for sure! 35$ for the day ticket is quite pricy, but still worth spending the day cruising along these unbelievable ancient wonders!
After the ride through the entire complex, we moved on towards Thailand. We spent the night somewhere in a little village, covered in case of rain under the roof. The Thai border north from Siem Reap is located on a mountain plateau, which gave us a proper wake up punch the next morning:)
Surprisingly however, it felt good to climb again, after all these flat lands of Cambodia! We were excited to see what Thailand had for us!
When bikepacking through Cambodia and generally through most of Asia, you know what toilets are in use.
Don't say a bad word about them! Bless them, 'cause all of them are equipped in a little water shower!
..for after you're done. So use it as a shower as well! You'll be sweating like crazy riding here, so don's hesitate
to get this awesome way of refreshment almost everywhere and for free!
Talk to the locals, smile to them, joke with them! They'll love it and will respond with the same and more!
We stopped hesitating right away, and when in need, we always received help from them!
Daily Average: 70km