Day 4: Battambang to Sisophon: a peleton forms

Battambang to Sisophon

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Distance: 69.2km

Total: 262.4km

Cambodian FOD: the Cambodian flag has changed six times and is the only national flag that features a building.

Everyday Randomness: passing a school called the “Basic Bright School”.

Our plan was to spend another half day in Battambang and then head to Sisophon after lunch because there’s nothing to do there and it’s only 70km or so away.

We headed for a very hipster breakfast in Kimyie which was clearly a favourite of the local expats. This spot was a treat for us in terms of price but we most certainly enjoyed it! Our breakfast consisted of “Street Lattes” which were superb, a tomato bagel with exquisite coriander pesto and perfectly balanced salmon and caper bagel. 

Unfortunately, the rain came again and fortunately we were once again covered from it. We had hoped to ride on the Bamboo train that morning, videos on YouTube will explain all, but the weather did not permit it. The whole thing would have taken at least and hour and a half anyway so I think the video will have to do for us! They’ve been threatening to close the train for 5 years now, every year’s marketing slogan has been “last chance to take the Bamboo train” but alas it remains.

Having spent the morning having a rare relaxed breakfast​ we weren’t feeling too hard done by until the rain continued and continued. This meant we had lunch in the hostel which was surprisingly good and decided whether to stay or go. There wasn’t much point staying in Battambang if it was raining and it would have been a waste of one of the spare days that we had pencilled in so when the rain eased off a good bit we geared up and headed out.

It turned out to be absolutely grand, especially by Irish rain standards. The cycling was also grand, but just about. The rain had converted the hard shoulder into more of a soft shoulder and the handling proved difficult in places. The reason we frequented it quite a lot was because this road was very busy and the driver’s seemed to particularly enjoy driving on the opposite side of the road for extended periods (turning a two lane road in opposite directions to two lanes of traffic facing us at relatively high speeds). To get mental respite from the heavy traffic we briefly cycled along this dirt track which was thought was to be a side road for motorbikes and bicycles but we had to turn off as it was quite bumpy. We later saw workers laying rail lines on it so turns out we were quite wrong. Speaking of workers, it’s worth noting that they have female builders here would you believe, I couldn’t even imagine that in Ireland unfortunately!

As with everyday we seem to have in Asia; when there are downs, there are also ups. Children seem to leave school in Cambodia at all times of the day which leads us to be unsure as to whether they actually do much there and when they go to school. Today, after cycling past the “Basic Bright School” we were accompanied by a group of cycling school kids. We formed a most disorganised peleton where drafting options were limited, but this is an experience I’ll never forget captured by the following picture:

Sisophon was exactly as described by the lonely planet. It simply exists as it is the intersection between two highways. The Butuom hotel was suitable spot for us and thankfully they had a decent hose so that we could clean the substantial amount of mud we had acquired throughout the day. We could have done with a good hosing ourselves; the caked mud gave the impression of a very good tan. Most importantly, the flag survived most of the mud!

We had dinner at the pyramid hotel as it was essentially the only option. The restaurant was on the rooftop and would have been cool if the view of Sisophon was a tad more remarkable. The menu was labourioisly long, I went for the yellow noodles in the end which was a good choice!

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