From February 18 2009:

"Good Morning Asia"

Welcome to Asia (Thailand and Cambodia).

We left Melbourne, Australia on Jan. 16, 2009 at night and woke up in
Bangkok, Thailand.
Did I say we woke up? We had left 3 1/2 months of the English
speaking countries and the comfort of good water, good vegetables and
normalcy, as we call it. We had entered Asia, our sixth continent.
When I thought of Asia I thought of the movie "Good Morning
Vietnam." I was right.

Our first impressions of Thailand were quite nice, considering that
the Bangkok airport had been under seige with 10,000 protestors just
6 weeks earlier. People are friendly and wished us a Happy New
Year. We didn't tell them they were 16 days too late. In fact, they
were early as they celebrate the Chinese New Year around Jan. 25th.
So much for me knowing my Chinese New Year.

The highway leaving the airport had an enormous and very ornamental
arch stretching across 6 lanes of traffic. This was a symbol of all
of the temples and arches that were to come. The royal family's
pictures are everywhere.

Australia and New Zealand prepared us for riding on the left side of
the road but we were not ready for the traffic of Bangkok. As we
rode from the relatively quiet airport into the chaotic city we knew
our nerves would be tested. I still recall the fear in Jacky's voice
as we approached the city center.

Let me see if I can describe what she was feeling:
1. 4 lanes of heavy traffic
2. large black exhaust spewing from the trucks
3. thousands of scooters
4. hundreds of 3 wheel type taxis
5. overloaded bicycles carrying 4ft wide loads
6. deafening roar of the traffic
7. constant sounding of the horns

This is not so bad if everyone decides to go the same direction. But
no, we have scooters,
3 wheeled taxis and bikes coming at us in our outside lane and people
are double parked. So, 2 lanes of traffic have to crush into one.
Welcome to Asia. Oh yes, our map was in English and the street signs
were in Thailand which is a different alphabet with different
sounds. Our map was worthless because no one could read it. By the
luck of God we found the International Hostel and decided to blend
into the culture at a little slower pace.

We noticed the food was a lot spicier but cheaper. We also noticed
our eyes were burning and our throats were sore. The pollution
reports we see on the US television are very true for Indochina.
Many, many people wear masks and we should but they restrict our
airflow for cycling.

Our friends, Frank and Anna Marie from Thunder Bay, joined us on Jan.
19th. We started cycling out of Bangkok the morning of the 20th on
our way to Cambodia. Three days of solid riding put us at the
Cambodian Border. We enjoyed the exceptionally tasty Thai food, the
very aggressive Thai massages, and the hospitality of the road side
stands that we depended on for our daily noodles and rice.

Once in Cambodia we noticed a step down in general economic status
and general cleanliness of the country. We saw millions of boring
rice paddys in our route. But, a real gem for Cambodia is the temple
of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. Its the meca of Wats and a must see for
the world traveller.

Hotels were priced from $6-$25 per night and usually came with a few
geckos. Sometimes the $6 room was as good as the $25. Our best
value was in Phnom Penh. It was $16 for a very clean and safe room
with air conditioning, refrigerator, and TV.

Frank and Anna Marie were on a 3 week vacation and wanted to include
some resort beaches. Sihaunkville was a great place for this.
Gorgeous beaches, lots of cheap restaurants and hotels and 50 cent
beers. From the beach we took a boat to a near by island. We rented
bungalows for the night for only $15. We did a sunset fishing trip.
I caught the first fish with a hand reel but it was much too small to
eat. Watching the sunset over the Thompkin Sea with friends while
fishing and singing songs to Frank's harmonica just
doesn't get any better.

We were fortunate to stay at the island of Bamboo and see it how it
is today. The island has been purchased by foreigners and in May,
2009 they are going to start to construct large five star resorts.
Right now there are no flush toilets, no roads or vehicles, and only
electricity from 6pm to 10pm (generated power). Food is prepared
over a charcoal stove. You sleep with mosquito nets. It is very

Upon returning to Sihoukville we were able to do our "Pedaling For
Pencils" program at a nearby school. Shirley, a new friend that we
met on the island, is a recent retired Australian
business woman who volunteered to teach English at the school for a
year. Frank played the harmonica and we sang songs and, through the
help of a translator, we told about our travels.

Then it seemed like Ground Hog's Day. We all got sick (except for
Jacky. She was ill while back in Bangkok). We all had a fever
accompanied with vomitting, diarrhea, fainting and general malaise.

Five days later we were back on the bikes. The previous sick days
cut into our cycling time with Frank and Anna Marie. After 1 more
day of cycling together we wished each other farewell. They needed
to put their travel into high gear using planes, trains and
automobiles. They headed to Vietnam on bus and boat and we headed
towards Laos on bike.

We headed back to Phnom Penh in our route to Laos (needed to get our
Laos visas). In Phnom Penh we took in the genocide memorials of
the "Killing Fields". This was our third genocide site in our trip
(Auschwitz, Rwanda, and now Cambodia). The Khmer Rouge, under
direction of Pol Pot, were hailed by the population of Cambodia for
freeing them from the conflict of Civil War. This backfired on them
as Pol Pot wanted a totally agrarian society. So, the learned and
those who wore glasses or could speak a second language were killed.
Two million people were killed from 1975 to 1979. The many Khmer
Rouge killers were very young during this time. Today they walk the
streets as normal Cambodian citizens (now about the age of 47 to
50). The removal of all the intellectuals does effect a country and
it is easy to see the brain drain from the 1970 genocide.

We have found the Cambodian people to be very friendly and the
children take great pleasure in yelling "hello" as we ride by. Some
days we wish we had a parrot to respond to all of the "hellos" that
we hear (maybe 500-1000 a day). It is very heart warming to see a
little child racing to the edge of the road just to yell in an
ecstatic high voice, "hello, hello". Because the houses are on tall
stilts to accomodate the excessive amount of rain during the monsoon
season, most families use the area below their house for additional
covered living area. The entire family is basically outside all day

Recap of our food...rice and noodles, rice and noodles, rice and
noodles, a spicy pepper paste,and lots of soy sauce. Protein is in
the form of chicken, pork or touch meat. the unique items are
grilled rat and snake with beetles and fried grashoppers as
appetizers. We are trying to be careful with what we are eating
because there isn't any refrigeration in most of the communities.
Items are kept cold in coolers with minimal ice. (Remember, temps are
in the 90s to 100s).

The scooter represents the biggest form of transport. We saw up to 6
people on one scooter. The most 2 unique things that we've seen
carried on a scooter have been; 1) a scooter taxi with the driver, a
mother and her baby on the back. The baby had an IV in and the
mother was holding the IV bottle. 2) a 500 pound squealing sow
strapped to a board on the back of a scooter for delivery to the

Some interesting political items are that the country is being sold
to the highest bidder at the benefit of current political leaders.
Corruption is very prevalent and the numerous NGOs are doing the best
they can but it still requires red tape. Also, Cambodia is known for
its child sex slave activity. A top government official's sister is
the ring leader of this. (sick)

On a fun note, we saw one market area of Bangkok that had cock
fighting and also fish fighting. To see grown men staring at 2
little fish in a fish bowl and betting on which fish would win was
totally different and amusing.

Thailand and Cambodia provided us a great experience. Now we are off
to Laos, Vietnam, China and South Korea.

Until next time. Take care.
Ward and Jacky