It hurt to see our bikes being savagely strapped to the back of a pickup. Little did we know that worse was still to come. The scheduled 7am departure didn't happen till close to 9am, giving us time to relax over some breakfast and coffee at a nearby restaurant. Six gigantic bags of bananas were loaded on our first stop, and everything else was moved to rest against our bikes. At another stop a third bike was strapped to our bikes in the back - there was little we could do. The driver was in a big hurry, and he proceeded to ignore our pleas to salvage what we feared was left of our bikes. He then flew over potholes, and narrowly dodged oncoming traffic, occasionally playing chicken with scooters. Three little babies were being passed back and forth between adults in the back. I found it challenging just to hang on. Crazy ride, but fun!
Surprisingly, when we arrived in Kampong Thom, we found our bikes relatively untouched - with one exception. My back rim was whittled down to half of its original thickness in one spot, and there was a hole the size of a dime in my knobby tire. We made a point to show the driver what happened - he appeared concerned. Myles fixed the tire on the spot - MacGyver style, using a plastic water bottle. We had an audience of about 20 curious onlookers (mostly guys). We made it in one piece.
Kampong Thom is a bigger town, with a paved road running through it - setting it apart from the dirt road towns of Cambodia that we've seen thus far. It boasts a fancy gas station stocked with everything from real milk to beer to ice cream. The town itself lacked that 'inviting feel' when we first arrived. However, we did manage to score a nice room for cheap - and that always adds to the ambience of a place.