Jan 17-18, 2020 — days 45, 46 — 4h7m — 65km — Σ 2,862km — border crossing — flat tires — tranquility
Our Vietnam adventure was about to end. To step into Cambodia, we cycled nervously to the border gates just outside Ha Tien. We were the only ones at the visa counter. The officer demanded $35 per person to give us a 30-day visa; we didn’t argue. Goodbye Vietnam, you’ve been very kind to us.
Traffic disappeared dramatically on the Cambodian side. We entered Kep, a small beach town. There were picnic shelters along the shore, and we took a break to admire the view.
We had done a bit of research before the trip for Vietnam, but not for Cambodia. This is going to be a different experience. The language is totally foreign, the script they use is practically illegible. Even Google Translate doesn’t offer much for Khmer; no download for offline use, no image based translation…
As soon as we reached Kampot, I had another flat. And another one an hour later. It turns out, I’m not very good at patching. Maybe the pre-glued patches I’ve been using are melting in the heat. We needed some local cash to buy water and went to an ATM, but it dispensed USD. Around here, US dollar and Khmer riel are both accepted. In small villages, it’s better to use riels so we exchanged a few dollars for local currency at the bank, just in case.
The next day I’ve decided to find a bicycle repair shop to get a pack of decent tube patch kit, but found a motorbike repair shop instead. The guy looked at my deflated tire and reluctantly began to repair one of the holes I pointed at. He took a metal saw and proceeded to rub it on. After a while which felt like way too long, he applied a generous amount of glue. Then he took a lighter and set the glued area on fire. As I watched in horror, he waited a few seconds before blowing the flames off, then put on a patch and beat it with a metal bar. He couldn’t inflate the tube as he didn’t have the proper adapter, but I was satisfied. I mimed a bit to get a couple of patches and a tube of glue he just used. Turns out he’s selling boxes of those. I paid him $5 for a box and for the job he did.
In theory there are a couple of nice places one can visit while in Kampot. But in practice, all those places are either too touristy, already detoriated, or it’s the wrong season. We chose to cycle along the river to observe the village life just outside the town.
The river was a bit low due to dry season, but there were a few people kayaking. After watching a group of people zip-lining across the river, we took a ferry across and returned to town through dirt roads.
Kampot is overall a quiet nice town well geared for tourists. You can tell some visitors are here for the long term.