It was April in Cambodia and we were half way through a two-week adventure motorbike ride across Cambodia. And an adventure isn’t an adventure without some rural camping thrown into the mix now is it? After spending the night in a riverside hotel in Stung Treng we got up early and bought provisions from the local market – 5kg of pork, an esky full of ice, 3 crates of beers… all the camping essentials. We all then jumped on our bikes and rode down to the ferry with our fully loaded support truck in tow. After a couple of hours riding north along winding dirt roads we arrived at our destination – a nature reserve on the edge of the Mekong River on the Laos / Cambodia border.
We (the staff) would be spending the next few hours setting up our home for the night – a campsite on a small uninhabited island in the middle of the Mekong river. We had arranged for our riders to have lunch with some locals and do some sightseeing, visiting the old derelict train site that was used to transport boats across the impassable rapids. After then visiting the rapids they would go dolphin watching on a little wooden boat…. That was the plan at least. After a very hot couple of hours, putting up tents in the midday heat and carrying all our food and beers from the boat to the campsite, our riders arrived. They had gone to lunch and hadn’t moved all afternoon! It turns out they got on very well with the locals and spent the afternoon drinking beer with them. But hey, at least they enjoyed themselves! And now they were all in very merry spirits for an evening on the island.
Once the sun started to set we got down to the most important part of the campsite – a giant bonfire! Luckily with a lot of dry wood lying around it wasn’t long until we had a roaring fire going – with the help of a fallen tree that the men had dragged over. We spent a fantastic evening playing beach games, drinking beer, chatting away and eating our body weight in BBQ pork.
After a good night’s sleep (most of us outside of the tents as it was such a warm night) we woke up at sunrise and went for an early morning swim. We then packed away the tents and caught a boat over to a small village on the Laos side for a breakfast of egg fried rice and strong Laos coffee.
Needless to say, we have some incredible experiences running these tours – but this is one that really stands out for me. It had been one of the best nights I’d ever had on tour and all our riders had extremely enjoyed themselves.
As we were making our way back across the Mekong to the bikes for another days riding, two or three of the Irrawadee river dolphins swam near us and were jumping out of the water – I thought to myself with a smile on my face ‘ah just another day at the office’.
Author’s Bio: Toby Jacobs is the founder and co-owner of Ride Expeditions Motorcycle Tours. He has been traveling Southeast Asia via motorcycle since 2007 and decided to turn his passion into a career in 2011 when he started this business with his partner in Cambodia.