Sunday, 15 January 2012

On Your Bike in Cambodia


A guest post by Sarah Wilkins


On Your Bike in Cambodia

There are several things to consider before a holiday in Cambodia. And it really depends on what you’re planning to do when you get there. What time of year do you go? What activities can you enjoy out there? What do you pack? Many people come to visit the famous temples at Angkor, stopping in Siem Reap where they’ll stay for the duration of their guided or un-guided tour.

From a landscape point of view, the Angkor site has many Banyan trees twisting among its ruins. The Banyan tree is actually a fig tree and is the national tree of India. The name comes from the Guajarati word for merchants, who it is said took shade underneath the leaves when selling their wares in the day.

Cambodia, as with much of Southeast Asia, is warm year-round. It is in the tropical zone. The monsoon season lasts from June to the end of October and during this time it’s (unsurprisingly) pretty wet. Happily, the fact that the country is so warm means that unlike places like the UK, where wet often means cold and wet, the rain here is warm. That considered, it’s best to bring a waterproof breathable jacket with you, preferable with a good hood. A lifesaver too, is the wondrous dry bag, which you can put all your wet clothes into and fold the top over to keep the clothes that aren’t wet  still dry. Cambodia, like the rest of Southeast Asia has an abundance of launderettes and it’s well worth handing your clothes to them regularly. They’ll return smelling of roses (or nice at least), dry, and neatly folded in a bag for you.

If you’re feeling adventurous, there are many places that will hire out bikes to you. You can use them to explore the temples. Remember if you choose to do this, to take plenty of water with you, as physical exertion and dehydration definitely do not mix.

If visiting temples by bike in the country, there’s no real reason to stop there. Cambodia is a beautiful place to cycle through. Beyond Angkor there are miles and miles of roads, sided by lush green rice paddies, and wooden houses on stilts with friendly families either seated in them or working outside. There are Asian horned cows working on the land and chickens running about. You can head north along the Mekong Delta, watching life by the river along the way until you reach the place where the famed Irawaddy dolphins gander, or go west to the ever popular Battambang, where it is possible to take lovely boat tips and see hills and mountains with pagodas dotted across them. Cambodia also has some fantastic beaches. The fact they aren’t raved about that often means they are not yet overcrowded too, head south to see for yourself.


While these adventures are fun with just one other person, there are many tour operators who offer a more supported trip. They can provide introductions to the country and guided trips around the sights.


Sarah Wilkins loves to travel. Whether it's hiking in the Scottish Highlands to exploring Australia's Gold Coast, Sarah wants to see it all and hopes to spend a lifetime fulfilling her travel dreams.

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