No visit to Cambodia is complete without a motorbike ride through the countryside
No visit to Cambodia is complete without a proper motorbike ride through the countryside. Motorbikes are an integral part of the daily life for people living in the country that is home to the famous Angkor Wat temple.
As majestic, ancient and incredible as the temples of Angkor Wat may be, it was the motorbike tour with Sabai Adventures that became a highlight of my visit to the kingdom. My day out exploring the rugged countryside was a memorable activity. Setting out from Siem Reap with my knowledgeable Cambodian moto guide Sokpan, it didn’t take long before we left the hordes of tourists behind and the real journey began.
If you’re like me and enjoy getting away from the busy crowds of “package tourists” and the oversized buses they occupy, then consider a countryside moto tour with these guys. I realized long ago during my travels that anything titled as ‘wonders of the world’,’ ancient’, or ‘UNESCO site’ undoubtedly has an imposing entrance gate selling tickets and is packed full or crowds and diesel buses.
It’s just the way it is, and a fact that must be accepted. Don’t fool yourself and think you’ll be the only one there, because chances are if you visit any wonders of this world or the next, you won’t be alone. I always find it ironic when tourists complain there are too many tourists. However, with that said, Sabai Adventures showed me the world just beyond Angkor Wat. As my guide took me along the countryside roads, I discovered small villages that hardly ever see any foreign visitors. Children came running up to the side of the road enthusiastically shouting hello as we drove past.
During the tour we stopped at a few remote temples and we were pretty much the only people there. The first temple involved hiking up a steep staircase to an ancient site at the top of the mountain that offered stunning views of the surrounding countryside. As we returned to the bikes and continued driving along red clay roads through rural communities, I tried to absorb the beautiful scenery and unique culture I was witnessing. Seeing locals working the fields by hand using primitive tools and ox pulling wooden carts was an incredible sight. I thought to myself that little has probably changed in hundreds of years, other than the obvious introduction of items such as motorbikes and cell phones.
As we passed smiling locals and waving children, there was a sense of sincerity in their behaviour. I felt a sense of genuine happiness in many of the faces I saw. To come to the conclusion that poor countries should be pitied is a false sentiment. I’ve seen many people with BMW’s, iPhones, and large bank accounts who seem to be far less happy and content.
The village is their life, their homeland. It’s what they know and cherish.
Sokpan led me to another small temple with charm. The monks in the pagoda joined me as we hung-out on the fallen stones of the millennium old temple in the shade of the mid-day sun. My attempt at conversation with the young monks was met with confusion, on their part and mine. Nonetheless, we were able to share some laughs regardless of the language barrier before we set off again. What impressed me driving along the country roads were the kids heading home from school on their bicycles. Their school uniforms were incredibly clean, pressed, and worn with pride. I wish I could say the same for my homeland.
On the way back we stopped at a secluded small lake for a refreshing swim. During the drive back to Siem Reap, I thought of the great day I just completed out in the Cambodian countryside. As we were coming to the end of the tour, I couldn’t help but think, no visit to Cambodia is complete without a proper motorbike ride through the countryside.