Posted by: Megan | July 4, 2007

Deer Antelope Muscle Enhancer for Intrepid Cyclists?

Peak Hour Traffic in Phnom Penh

Given that cycling in Cambodia is a way of life for the locals, as an avid cyclist myself it seemed the ultimate way to get to know the real Cambodia with all its rustic charm. So, I booked myself on an epic Intrepid cycle journey across Cambodia, farewelled my usual beach bike path route to; soak up Cambodia’s scenic views and endless vistas, take to the quiet back roads and meet the local people, devour the local food without guilt, and have fun with some new fellow Intrepid travellers in the interim!

The range of cyclists in the group was about as vast as the landscape of the country. From Ally who had not been on a bike since her mother took her training wheels off to Amanda who gave true meaning to adrenalin to her fellow riders and locals nearby to … the 2 Italian professional triathletes who certainly gave me a run for my money!

Characteristic of a typical day of riding was starting the day by fuelling the body with energy from either fresh baguettes, fried rice or noodle soup, riding anything between 20km and 105km, sighting amazing temples and landscape, responding to 1000s of ‘hellos’ said in passing, surviving insane traffic conditions, bargaining for lunch in the local markets, being eternally grateful for the invention of ‘wet wipes’, feeling great and … moderating standards along with accepting new ones!

Probably one of my favourite recollections from a day of cycling was what arriving into Takeo (the place you ride to when you really feel like being the adventure traveller!) after an 83km ride had install for us! The thought of having a nice cool glass of Sauvignon Blanc was just that in Takeo – a ‘thought’! Besides beer, the only other alcohol on offer in the small town was that of a muscle enhancer made from deer antelope and thought to provide all the goodness and well-being one could ever need (was Takeo aware of these foreign cyclists touring the region?). The thought of having a nice cool ice-cream was just that in Takeo – a ‘thought’. Visions of ‘Mr Whippy’ was only a mirage in a pool of sweat to which the reality of crushed ice with weird wobbly jelly blobs covered in condensed milk seemed a tasty treat! As a group we headed to the ‘Riverside Restaurant’ for dinner. To especially weary cyclists, a ‘Riverside Restaurant’ sounded like a tranquil place with a menu to match only to learn that any such menu was in the same mirage as ‘Mr Whippy’. Cow’s intestines, fried frog were on ‘the’ menu amongst a few edible dishes. The waitress probably still wonders to this very day why we all simultaneously cheered when a plate of salted nuts came to the table!

I absolutely loved the energy of this trip. In spite of poverty and such a turbulent recent past, the humor, trust and friendliness of the Cambodian people shone through, and cycling was the best way to experience it.

Hmmm … I think that cycle Morocco could be the next trip ….


The Group


Intrepid Tour leader John


Local school kids on their bikes!


Much needed rest stop!


Gorgeous rural scenery


Testing out a local bike for size!


There is relief at the end of all the long days of riding in Sihanoukville …

Read more about Intrepid’s Cycle Cambodia trip …

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