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Text and pictures by Bernhard Heiser

    Part 10:  Phnom Penh and around  -  The Alory Trip
We have both been in Phnom Penh before, so we are not too keen on visiting any tourist highlights. We use most of the day for sleeping, shopping, banking and checking e-mails in one of the numerous internet cafes. This photo is taken from the brand-new shopping mall just around the central market. Here they have in fact the first escalator of Phnom Penh, and it's fun to watch people who have never used such a thing in their whole life.
The most of the following day we spend on the motorbike with our driver Sokun. We have decided to do a special trip with the funny little "bamboo train", which is called "alory" by the locals. At 10 in the morning all three of us jump on the bike and we drive north-west to the airport. Not far after we passed the airport we turn right at a gaz station and continue on a small gravel road for one or two kilometers. When we cross the rails for the second time, we stop to ask someone for the alory "station".
Sokun is a very experienced driver and he is in the business for a long time, but he never did this before and he was quite surprised when we asked him about alory rides.

We have a drink in a little restaurant and wait for something to happen. After a while we go back to the tracks where another alory is assembled for us. The funny platform consists of axles, some wooden planks and a small tractor engine with a self-made belt-drive. Quite simple, but these things go really fast!

It takes only minutes to prepare it for the ride. We help Sokun with uploading the motorbike and sit down. The engine is started and here we go. Perhaps the most relaxed way to travel in Cambodia, as there are no potholes and no dust. We ride faster and faster and only stop at some makeshift stations or when we have to clear the way for another alory coming from the opposite direction. We ride through the scenic surroundings of the capital with approximatly 50 kms per hour and feel like sitting on a flying carpet!
Near Udong we leave the railtrack and continue in "normal mode". We visit Udong mountain, where everything is prepared for the visit of King Sihanouk and Prime Minister Hun Sen tomorrow. Later we drive back home along the river, passing by the infamous K11, also known as Svay Pak.

We have dinner in a good French restaurant, the Lyon d'Or. In the Tonle Sab Restaurant we have a beer with icecubes and watch the locals with their funny Khmer disco dance. Later we end up in the Heart (of Darkness), clearly my favorite place this year for drinking, dancing and having fun.

It's already late night when we jump on Sokun's bike for the last time and go home to the guesthouse. We had another long and very enjoyable day in Phnom Penh, for sure not the last one on this trip!

Tomorrow we have to get up early to catch the 7 am train to Kampot. We believe this trip might be boring after our alory experience today, but see yourself on the next page...


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© 2003 by Bernhard Heiser
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