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Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh, Cambodia - Should I Stay or Should I Go_

Traveling by motorbike through Southeast Asia has been one of the most amazing experiences we have had in our life.   There have been perils however, and 4 wrecks on Shelly's part.  We have been lucky on every one and after Shelly's last wreck on the highway in Cambodia, we were not sure we wanted to continue with the tour of Cambodia. We were close enough to ending our trip anyhow and to stop our tour without serious incident, we figured it might be a good idea to call it quits.  We did however want to get to Phnom Penh to sell the bikes in a better seller's market than Sihanoukville where we had spent some time.

Getting Last Minute Instruction

We were a little apprehensive to make this trip in one day due to some negative urgings of our new friend Soly from the Queenco Hotel & Casino in Victory Beach, who said we should break it up into two days.   We have heard dissuasion this entire motorbike tour . If we had listened to every Southeast Asian that told us not to do something, we wouldn't have ever left Hanoi.  As we head out of the hotel, the front desk manager Vivi, said the same thing to us which got us thinking that maybe highway 4, where Shelly wrecked, might be too dangerous at high enough speeds to make it in one day. They were right!

On Our Way

Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh
Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh
Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh

Heading Out of Sihanoukville

We got on highway 4 for the trip to Phnom Penh to sell the bikes. We had another 290km which would be our longest day yet. I think from Koh Kong to Sihanoukville was about 280km. We rolled along highway 4 at a pretty good rate.  Shelly was doing well, and started to get used to driving on this road. It's a busy road with a lot of traffic on a two lane road. The most dangerous and white knuckled part is that when traffic passes slower traffic on the other side of street. We have little options of where to go but off the road. Shelly and I would need to slow way down when we saw others trying to pass big trucks. Looking for slower traffic clued us in to tense up and get ready to react because someone is going to pass it.

Listening to Our Intuition

We actually began to get used to the road yet it was exhausting and not how we wanted to end our bike trip. Cambodian drivers are very aggressive and seem to be in a hurry. It takes a lot out of you when you travel down the road tensing and relaxing, tensing up again and relaxing. After about 270km it started to get dark and started to rain. We decided to stop for the day.

I wanted to push on and make it to Phnom Penh and Shelly felt it was too dangerous to do so, and after what Soly and Vivi urged at the hotel that morning, we felt we were simply not meant to make it to Phnom Penh that day.  We always pay attentions to the "signs" and go by our senses and intuition.  Our senses said we were not meant to get to this place in one day and we stopped 40km outside of Phnom Penh at a roadside town called Kampong Speu.

Kampong Speu

Nothing great about this place. Dirty and seemingly unfriendly to western travelers. The town is small and shuts down completely at 9pm, the mosquitos were insane, and the general grime of the road gave everything a clay dirt hue. People simply stared at us with straight faces.  The way were being looked at was disbelief. They simply stared at my tattoos, my mohawk, my size, my dress wondering why and how I got there. Strange to them I must have seemed.  We ate a decent dinner at a place where more people simply stared at us from tables in all directions and left in the AM when we woke up for the final 40km.  I told Shelly she needed to take the lead. Shelly did great on the roads and I feel her wrecking days are over.

The Bikes

Sihanoukville and Serendipity Beach
Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh
Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh

Arriving in Phnom Penh

When we arrived in Phnom Penh and headed by the Tonle Sap River and we saw a nice place to eat called Fish, and sat down in the sidewalk seating section to decide what we wanted to do.  Shelly got her Doc Marten Boots shined.  There was a boy with a shoeshine box and asked if we needed our riding boots shined.  My boots were canvas outside and couldn't be shined.  Shelly's nearly knee high boots were filthy and leather.  We asked how much, and the boy said $5.  When she took her boots off and he saw how big they were, you could see a look of disappointment and surprise as to how big they were.  We told him we would give him more after he begrudgingly honored the original price. 

After lunch we decided to look for a place to stay. We drove to many hotels, and each one had something we didn't like. We rode around for about 2 hours and found a place we liked called the Asia Palace Hotel on the main street in town.  While looking around town looking for a hotel, the aggressiveness of the drivers in Cambodia were again evident.

Getting Hit By a Car In Traffic

While sitting in traffic on a main street in Phnom Penh, a car was honking behind me.  I looked behind to a guy who was trying to wave me to the side of the road.  I ignored the man in the car and inched down the road with the rest of the traffic.  Suddenly, I feel a huge surge behind my bike and realized the driver bumped me with his car.  He didn't ram me full force, but definitely hit me hard enough for me to wonder if my life was in danger the next time he would do it.  I promptly got over and placed a disturbed look and possibly a middle finger a the driver.  I was in disbelief that someone would do that in stop and go traffic. 

The Blue Cat Restaurant

Sihanoukville and Serendipity Beach

Deciding To Continue

That night we went back to the waterfront to a great little place called the Blue Cat Restaurant.  Stylish and with sidewalk seating, we ate a great dinner and ice cream and went home to get up early.  We decided to go to Siem Reap the next day and scrap the bike selling.  We just couldn't end the trip.  We set out to do something and Shelly did really well riding to Phnom Penh.  We talked it over and realized that if we didn't finish this trip in Saigon, we would regret it someday.  We weren't quitters and we were going to make it through this challenge.  We also liked riding and didn't want it to end.  There is something special about the freedom you feel while on a bike riding from place to place.  We grew to love it.

Booking the High Speed Ferry To Siem Reap

We found out that there is a 6 hour speed boat ride to Siem Reap where Angkor Wat is located. We were skeptical about having our bikes transported on a speed boat, but decided it was the best way to get our bikes, us and Buddha to Siem Reap. We bought tickets through our hotel, 35 dollars each plus 15 dollars for each bike. We would leave at 7:30am. We didn't get to bed until after midnight for some reason.  Which really set us back in the morning and heading to the ferry dock to catch our boat.

Change of Plans

Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh

Change In Perspective

Things change in an instant on the road.  We really were ready to end our trip until we pushed on and realized we weren't ready.  You have to follow your gut on these matters.  Our gut told us to quit while in Sihanoukville.  Who knows why?  When we left Sihanoukville, our gut told us to stop for the night in Kampong Speu.  We could have pushed on, but something told us to stop.  We made it to Phnom Penh and now our gut tells us to continue on.

In life, we don't know why things happen the way they do.  Have you ever had something happen and say to yourself... "had I only left 2 minutes earlier", or "if I had only left two minutes later"  this wouldn't have happened.  We shouldn't think this way.  Life is meant to happen the way it does.  Go with your gut and life will happen the way it does.  This all goes into our philosophy of The Art Of Letting it Go

Maybe had we ignored our gut and continued on to Phnom Penh, we would have had a horrible crash, or maybe we would have got there just fine, and then got mugged that night.  Who really knows.  All we know, is that our intuition told us something and we follow, blindly at times and it works out the way it is supposed to.  Trying to analyze the reasons, and the "what ifs" is futile.  We have learned to just go with the flow. and enjoy what life offers us.

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