Overnight Harley Ride to Bokor and KepNovember 12, 2011
(For any Khmer440 members interested in doing this overnight Harley Tour a special rate of $200 per motorcycle will apply until further notice. If interested contact Murray. Phone; 012 948 529. Email; firstname.lastname@example.org)
It must be 8 years since I last rode a motorcycle up Bokor Mountain. Back then it was a two hour slog on a trail bike for a novice dirt bike rider like me. Finally, after a few years under construction the road to the top is finally open on a permanent basis.
A group of four Harley enthusiasts (all local expats) joined me for this ride. We got away just after 7am and were soon joined by another expat riding his own Harley. With most expats not used to driving large bikes through the chaos that is Phnom Penh traffic the first 30 odd minutes of the tour would be the most nerve wracking. We travelled down Street 271 and then past Northbridge. Soon we were past the Airport and on the newly refurbished Route 3. And might I add what a beautiful track route 3 is these days.
Our first and only drinks break was at Ang Sa Saom (please excuse my spelling), just before the road splits in two for either Kampot to the right or Kep to the left. By around 10am we were having coffee with the affable Eric at the Bokor Mountain Lodge in Kampot.
By 11 am we had left Kampot and were on our way to the Bokor National Park. Our next stop was to pay the Park’s $5 entrance fee; from then on it was clear riding all the way to the summit.
The new road is, in a word, brilliant, it is wide and smooth, however, already sections of the road are being dug up and repaired: a bit of a worry for the future. There are also a few kilometers that are not yet finished.
During the entire trip up and down the mountain we passed only a handful of private vehicle and a similar number of construction vehicles. Roads are yet to be marked with lines but no doubt will be in the near future. As we all know it is very important to have double yellow lines for Khmer drivers to ignore. One small part of the road has already been lost in a small landslide, which I hope is not a sign of things to come.
On top of the mountain the old casino is now surrounded by scaffolding and there is a massive new building under construction which is probably a casino/hotel. As we were in the clouds and it was quite cool, a jacket is probably preferable to the t-shirts we were all wearing.
From the old Casino to The Rusty Keyhole is about 40 kilometers and took us about 35-40 minutes. As with all the Harley tours I do, speed is never our objective.
Once we reached Kampot our days work was almost done. For the umpteenth time I failed to get through the now “infamous” large ribs put on by Kristian and Com at the Rusty Keyhole. We did however, manage to get through a couple of cold beers before the ride to Kep. The picturesque 25 odd kilometers of road between Kampot and Kep was once a pleasant ride. Not these days, even by Cambodian standards the road is a disgrace. Hopefully it will be ripped up and replaced sometime soon.
In Kep we stayed at The Beach House. I have stayed at many places in Kep and I am now convinced that The Beach House at $35 a night is among the best value in town .
That night we went to Kep’s finest dining experience, the crab shacks. Although the crab shacks are changing – there is now a bar and a pizza shop – it still has the best value quality seafood in all of Cambodia. For 6 people, with beer, a bottle of wine, plenty of shrimp, squid and (unfortunately small) crabs, the total cost was around $80. Some of the more energetic partied on till around 2am, which is a great effort in a quiet place like Kep, the rest of us were in bed around 10pm.
The next morning we departed around 10am. After a drive around Kep for a few photo opportunities we set our sights on Phnom Penh. Again we stopped for a 30 minute drinks break at the same Tela service station in Ang Sa Saom. We were back at the rooftop bar at Murray’s Place early afternoon for a few cold beers, and the usual stories that must be shared after any good ride.
The whole crew plus 1……Can you spot the ring-in?