I have spent the better part of the last three days reading blogs. I’m talking hundreds of them. They ranged from travel blogs, to leisure, literature, young writers, backpacking and even blogs that specialise in nothing and everything at once. Naturally I followed the ones I liked and some of you even followed my little blog in return, to those I say a sincere and heartfelt thank you!
It really is a wonderful thing this exploratory community we have here and the stories, tips, adventures and mutterings of all of you are beautiful both individually and as a collection. I’ve learnt years worth of travel knowledge in a matter of days and in particular the ins and outs of backpacking by yourself in foreign lands. I’ve discovered cool little tips and tidbits on writing and some of the finer qualities of a publishers mindset. When I started this thing it was an outlet for my passion of writing and a way of finally expressing myself to a wider audience then that of close friends. Now I hope to make this somewhat of a kick ass career move, and so with no further ado let me tell you a story of when I was in Siam Reap, Cambodia.
The quick lowdown would read that we (my girlfriend Caysha, her sister Shelby, and our friend Sam) were a part of the Cambodia and Vietnam G Adventures tour in early 2016 and we had booked an aptly named ‘Adrenaline Bundle*’ when we booked the trip. I can truly recommend this if you do decide to go with G Adventures as both our guide Dara** and the experience was fantastic from start to finish. To cut a long story short, on this day we were set to ride quad bikes through the Cambodian village of Siam Reap.
Truthfully I don’t remember if too many of those in the group that joined us had pre-booked but I do know that before long we had convinced a few others to take the chance with us and after settling into our hotel we set off to find out just what kind of trouble we’d got ourselves into this time. We were joined by Todd, Gabby, Charmaine and Jess and of the entire group only Todd had ridden a quad before – gulp!
The guy who ran the business was quite nice and his English was formidable so that certainly helped the process, it was so good that when he said that we would be riding each quad individually we all kind of looked around at each other in a kind of fear stricken daze. This was furthered by his next statement “before we can go anywhere, you all need to sign these waivers saying that if you damage the bikes the cost is on you, and we absolve ourselves of any damage to property and persons”… This was when we started to doubt ourselves. I happen to believe that everyone there that day seriously wanted to walk away and just cut our losses, but as is the case with peer pressure and pack mentality, we all gathered ourselves and signed away. This quickly turned into one of the best decisions of the trip.
The whole preparation stage of the adventure is pretty simple; you’re given a helmet and a dust mask and you fit them to yourself…done. Here is where I recommend that you bring your own sunglasses as the visor on the helmet isn’t great for that pesky sunset. The introduction to the bike was simple enough, we got on, and we drove the things. We were assessed in a matter of metres which didn’t help with nerves but we’d come too far to back out now. Once everyone’s intensive crash course (thankfully not literally) had finished we were ready to embark.
Now, being Australian, I think I should mention I am accustomed to driving on the left hand side of the road, typically on bitumen, and with a sense of order to the traffic. None of these things existed as we were soon to notice. The right hand side of the road makes no sense, the people do not stop for anything and the temptation to brake constantly is sometimes overwhelming and if you add in the eight novice western (all Australian) drivers who were all pretty interested in their brakes you can imagine the chaos. The dust was strong and the driving was sometimes hilariously awful but my goodness what a blast.
The countryside was spectacular and the locals would grin so wide when they saw us it looked painful. We were able to stop and take photos of the beauty that Cambodia has to offer everyone. Overall we probably travelled through 7km of town and farm land causing havoc where we went and we eventually found ourselves in the heart of the countryside, covered head to toe in red dust, and witnessing a beautiful sunset. The guides in true Cambodian fashion offered to run off to buy us all beers the moment we stopped and for a few dollars between us we sat there watching the light fade away with a cold one in hand.
It probably sounds ridiculous, and you might think to yourself, “why would I put myself through that for a beer?”, but I can assure you that it was truly worth experiencing if you’re in the area. It really was safe if you were sensible and aside from one mighty friendly buffalo there were very few incidents. I think the most important thing about this little venture was how quickly the eight of us bonded. We barely knew each other and by the end of this we had found friends that to this day I speak to. All in all I can’t say enough good things about this trek, and if I had the option you can bet your bottom dollar I’d be there again in a flash. Don’t miss out if you get the opportunity!
*In addition to the quad bike tour we also LOVED the tree top zip lines through a Thai Jungle to the north of Bangkok, and probably the best of all was the abseiling we enjoyed in Vietnam – Can be read here: taking-my-breath-away
**We loved him so much we dragged him with us to Laos once our tour had ended in Vietnam. Best guy!