Cambodia Year 5
   Cambodia Year 5    
15 SEP 13 - 10 MAR 14
20 FEB 14

Filming began this month for the well known [in Cambodia] book, The Gate, by famous [in France] film-maker [of French language films], Régis Wargnier (did that kill it?). Dan and I had a chance to be extras for a couple scenes which involved a 70s wardrobe and distraught foreigners following around an equally terrified Francois Bizot and Khmer Rouge soldiers. Since all direction and language was in French, we often had no idea what was going on or what we were supposed to do. This is likely the perfect expression for foreigners caught in the middle of a bloody revolution so we expect to be front and centre when the film is released in 2015.


Posing with some Khmer Rouge soldiers
Steve and Dan outfitted
Our transportation (and props) for the day
Dan with one of the sets
30 JAN 14 - 02 FEB 14

I've been dreaming and planning on biking this route for a couple years now. I thought it might be possible but never heard of anyone actually attempting it. There was nothing easy about it and I wouldn't necessarily recommend anyone else try but it sure felt great to adventure through it! Until anyone else claims otherwise, we're the first to succeed!


Ready to head out from O'mlou falls
Passing preferred local transportation
Tree duck
Biking onto the plains
Day 1:

Meet at 4:30
Super fast transit on HW 4
Turn down kirirom road
Arrive at chambok
Set up bikes, depart
Nice road
Worse road
Terrible rocky washboard road
Several creek crossings
Secondary path
Hearing gibbons
Flat tire
Back to main path
Flat tires
Riding around a mountain range
Open plains for a bit
Purifying water
Through the forest
Dan takes a tumble, knee wound
They're clear cutting forest
Nice logging road!
Abrupt end to logging road
Found the trail
More flat tires from rock pinching
Stream crossings
Matt wins for most ground time
More forest, rocks, questionable trail
Exit the forest, wow, cows!
Small shop!!
Bridge ahead in m'plet
Through a village
Wide open area, riding fast
Another village
Fuel, food, water, a random truck
This is the longest m'plet ever
Where's the stupid bridge
More village
Ahhh nice river!
Sleeping shelter!
You brought wine?
Couldn't have worked out better for sleeping
Lots of farting all night
Brect's double gunshots after night pee

Day 2:

Beautiful trail heading out of P'oom Stung
Lost the track
Found it again, off to Kamlot
Nice bridge, avoid middle
A pagoda, must be getting close now
a couple more nice bridges
This is not as big as I imagined
Your tire repair people went where?
We have no food for you.
What about those noodles? ok.
Jolanda gathers local intel
Delicious meal
Villager repairs tire, ties piece of garbage around hole
Johns Hopkins says....
Off again, unprepared for what's next
A couple briges
Unoccupied ranger station + gate
Random house
Stream crossing
Purifying water
Flat tires
More river crossings
Bamboo jungle maze
steve gets lost for 20 mins
Around a mountain
Can we get to jars site from here? too risky
Down, down, down
Huge river crossing, actually same one we will later camp at night # 3
A little swim, snacks
2PM, climbing up, up, up, 100m
Walking bikes more than 50%, 200m
Bamboo arch, hitting head on it often
Carrying bikes over huge rocks, 300m
Jolanda's rear bike hub loose
Nearly out of water
Up up up, 400m
Flat tires
Water source with bones in it, gather anyway
The top!! 550m
Clearing, snap! steve's derailleur hanger-bolt breaks
Take chain off, continue by scooting bike along
Rediculous down hill section as sun goes down
Must continue in case there is water
No water, camp anyway
No water, no fire
Reluctantly drink bone water
so you have a point and 14cm....
Matt has longest hammock ropes
Eat a bunch of snacks
Questionable J&B whiskey
Strange sounds in the night

Day 3:

Synchronous bowel movements
Convert steve's bike to 1 speed
Off we go in the beautiful morning
Steve scoot/run-biking
Ack! water 500m from camp!
Nice clearing in the dewey morning
Matt takes first picture of the trip
Hit the Aurang-ChiPhat super highway
Wait a minute, this path isn't great
Stream crossings
Purify water, Royal D
Unexpected 200m climb, pushing bikes
The top!
Steep downhill section
AMAZING downhill for 15km
Hmmm... no village there
When are we going to eat breakfast?
Signs of civilization
Stream crossings
Random group of hiking barangs
Stream crossings
Still amazing downhill
Swim, clean, relax, oats breakfast, cliff jumping
Split up, Brecht Dan Jolanda go on ahead
Steve half on half off bike, walking bike mostly
Scorching hot sun!
Nice ride into Chi Phat village
Order food, relax
Buy water
Fix jolanda's bike
Buy tires
Steve rents a new bike
Off again, seriously, we did this?
9 km beautiful ride to river bend
Set up camp at 1.5h before sunset, a first
Leisurely cooking and camp prep
Swim, wash
Dan - fire in the middle of river please
Noodles + veggies, apple desert, more J&B + rice wine
Purifying water
Moto passes by
To sleep early
Jolanda - what is that?
Dan - two eyes and horns looking right at me!

Day 4:

Oatmeal breakfast on the rocks
Pack up camp
Beautiful start in the misty mountains
Herd of buffalo
Stream crossings
Pass camping site
Park bikes
Sore butts
Bat cave
Disturbing the bats
Ladders up to burial jars
Lots of guano
Karma foundation discussed
Eating all the rest of our snacks
Can't find the right trail, decide to attempt longer loop
Trail gets bad, decide to go on anyway
Trail gets better
Big hill, pushing bikes up 150m
AMAZING forest biking section
Hearing gibbons again
Stream crossing
Going up, filter water, um... we're lost
Lets go back to the stream
Attempt a trail.. woohoo, it's the right one.
Never see landmark campsite or waterfall
Down, down, down
Zigzag through bamboo forest
Brecht supermans into the bushes 2m in front of bike
Dan flat tire
Down, down, amazing zigzag trail
SNAP! Steve's bike rack breaks
Reconfigure group possessions, continue
Down, down
River crossing
Purify water
Parallel to big river, going south
Big river crossing
Split up, steve+brecht bolt for chi phat to order lunch
Stop for a Coke
POP! Brecht last flat tire, grand Total 15 now
Steve races ahead
Hot sun!
Steve orders lunch
Reconvene at sugarcane juice stand
Quick swim + wash
Back to chi phat
Naam baay
Find our driver
Cross the ferry
Matt takes second picture of the trip
Dump wrecked possessions
Assessment of bruises + cuts
Back to phnom penh, the front country
Selective amnesia begins
01 DEC 13

Ever since we arrived in Cambodia, I was always aware that the Angkor Wat half marathon was one of the premier sporting events in the country. Finally in our 6th year in the Kingdom, I decided to give it a go.

The biggest problem I had was the fact that I despise running. To combat this, I decided to explore by running and never went down the same road twice (see last picture). This brings me to my hatred of explore-running in Cambodia - dogs. Solution, run with a rock in your hand. The second worst part about running in Cambodia is the heat. I often went for a spontaneous training run as soon as it start raining - about the only bearable time. The best place to train for running was barefoot along beaches. A quick dip every couple of km is essential.

In the end, the race itself was a mere fraction of the time commitment required for preparation. My goal, being a complete race newbie, was to get below 2 hours. It ended up being a perfect day and I ran as well as I ever have. Final time - 1:59:47 woohoo!


At the finish line with parents
I generally avoid selfy's but no time to stop and ask someone!
Running through the temples
Running practice
14 NOV 13 - 24 NOV 13

We’ve been fortunate to have had a fall packed full of visitors, including Steve’s folks and Aunt Sharon and Uncle John followed by Amie’s parents for Christmas. We’ve been spoiled by our loved ones AND we have gotten to show off Cambodia and everything we like about this country.

Highlights included ticking Lazy Beach on Koh Rong Samloem off our bucket list and hitting up our favouritest places (Kep and Kampot) once again.


Lookout above Lazy Beach (Koh Rong Samloem)
Sheila and the Grand-daughters
Wayne + Aya at Kep sailing club
Aya kite flying with Ta at Kep beach
Hugh with one of his favourite granddaughters
Faith with one of her favourite granddaughters
15 SEP 12 - 15 SEP 13
24 JUL 13 - 25 JUL 13
01 OCT 12 - 31 MAR 13
Life is pretty routine these days but also pretty busy. Our active toddler keeps us on our toes and for some reason we decided that our lives would be better with another one! Here's some of the more interesting things that have happened in the last couple months.
Easter ended up being quite an event this year. It started very early for a sunrise sevice near the river and then an egg hunt for the kids.
Penguins of Angkor
After a trip to Mondulkiri last year, we heard that the infamous Banana's Restaurant shut down. It's colourful owner moved to Kampong Cham to start fresh. Apparently tourists that just came from Angkor Wat are so stupid that when you ask them if they saw penguins during their visit, they respond in all seriousness that they must have missed them this time. Aside from great conversation like this, the Europian home-cooked food can't be beat!
Bamboo Bridge
Every year, Kampong Cham's famous bamboo bridge (which can support trucks) is rebuilt to connect the provincial capital with a nearby island. We had the pleasure of checking it out with Steve and Jodi.
Phnom Baoh Dambang
We've known about this old coal mine mountain not far from Kampot for years but never had a chance to check it out. You can see it from the road on the way to Kampot from Phnom Penh and it looks like a fortress on top of a mountain. There is also an old French-era railway bed that spits off the Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville line and ends at the mountain so 50 years ago this would have been a buzz of excitement.

Finally, Tim and Steve had the chance to ride our bikes out to this mysterious hill and check it out. Most of the area is in ruins but there is a creepy stairway up the mountain and a bunch of abandoned shafts and caves. The views from the top of the mountain are also spectacular.

BPPPH 2013
Every year we help to organise and attend the Big Phat Phnom Penh Hat - our invitational ultimate frisbee hat tournament. This year featured the the theme "royalty" and included the wildly popular slip 'n slide contest.
Hanoi Conference
Steve attending a recent conference in Hanoi which was not very exciting and left ample time for walking around town.
Solar Work
Steve working with a project to install a Scheffleur Reflector pilot project in Takeo province.
Being Pregnant
More of an issue for Amie rather than Steve, the final weeks are now approaching as we wait for Aya's sister to join us.
We definitely wouldn't have made it more than 5 years in Cambodia without our great friends and communities. Recently our little group of parents with young kids have been spending a lot of time together. Parenting might not be possible otherwise. Our expat communities in Phnom Penh can't last forever but we've lucked out with a great core that have been around for 3-5 years. We've had some tearful goodbyes recently in the case of Stephanie and the Fowlers but also some highlights, like the return of Julia and Charlie, who left just after we arrived in Cambodia.
Bokor Mountain
Probably due to its proximity to Kampot, we often check out the atrocities by Sokha Group on top of Bokor Mountain. This trip, we had our typical dose of horrible construction projects and then enjoyed biking down the new road which switchbacks down the mountain.
Kep Dam
Even after 10 or 15 trips to Kep, there are always new options for adventuring. This time Steve discovered an old abandoned hydrodam, hidden in the mountains which looks as if it's been dried up for half a century at least.
This is definitely our default weekend trip. Kep is off the tourist track and the seaside town is perfect for a relaxing weekend with the kids while also offering the potential for a little adventure. Recently we had the whole gang out for some hiking in the hills to explore some new trails and a boat excursion which ended at the sailing club just in time for cocktails at sunset.
Kirirom Hiking
Steve never tires of returning to Cambodia's little known and undeveloped Kiriom national park. This trip, Logan and Steve had the pleasure of taking three Hagar staff to check out some Western-style camping, biking, and hiking. The "near death" expeience was at least unforgetable for the guys.
Pool Parties
Due to the relentless heat and the enjoyment kids have in water, we end up scheduling one kids pool party after another.
Wayne + Sheila Visit
A visit from Wayne and Sheila all the way from Canada was a recent highlight. We spent Christmas together, fit in a trip to Kampot and Koh Totang as well as a travels to Myanmar along with Christie and Chris. Aya very much enjoyed her time with grandparents and still discusses it from time to time.
Aya's daycare closed down at the end of 2012 and fortunately we found a quick solution. We hired a babysitter along with Charlie and Julia so that Aya and Samea could be watched together during workdays. Phiny regularly tells us that it is much easier to watch the girls together rather than individually. Aya and Sam regularly treat each other like sisters and occupy much of one another's toddler thoughts and dreams. Sam just had her first word - Aya!
Mekong Boat Rides
For our first couple years in Cambodia we never had any events on the Mekong. Then we made friends and now we seem to be on a Mekong boat cruise every other month. Bringing Aya along is always good exercise. One of the boats we were on had such poor baby-proofing that we had the kids dance on the table all evening.
Koh Totang
We thought that Koh Rong was the frontier of Cambodian tourism but that was before venturing to Koh Totang! This place is way way off the map about a six hour drive from Phnom Penh on a remote island off the coast of Koh Kong.
We end up returning again and again to Kampot for it's close proximity to Phnom Penh, great restaurants and gateway to many activities. There is always a unique experience to undertake. Recently, we visited the questionable Tuk Chhu zoo with Wayne and Sheila and Tim and Steve finally snuck past security guards to get a peek at the new Kamchay hydrodam.
Wonderful adventures, wonderful friends!
04 April 2013 at 21:23