Thursday, December 29, 2016

Phnom Penh - My Favourite Mistake

An executive suite for $5.00 a night!
We've used Booking dot com quite a lot lately, to book guesthouses and other accommodation. The results haven't been that good but we found others even worse. Especially so called 'cheap accommodation sites' have proven to be more expensive. Two things about the service we don't like is not being able to ascertain if we will find secure bike parking, while the address details and experience has learned us that the GPS coordinates of booking dud com being correct is about a 50/50 chance. Today though they made a mistake for which we'd like to thank them... They gave us an executive suite in the heart of Phnom Penh for 5 dollars...including a buffet style breakfast!

We found it by pure chance, looking for cheap accommodation outside Phnom Penh the Live Long Hotel came up with a room for $5,- a night... surely a mistake, I thought. Book it! said Mike. I thought it would be a dorm bed but looking at it showed an executive suite... So we booked it and got the confirmation via e-mail that the room was indeed reserved for the grand total of US$5,- including all taxes! There was only one question from booking dud com: would we like the complimentary buffet style breakfast as well... why not :-) The secure booking form also showed it had been reserved and that we'd opted for the breakfast too... Right :-)

The road from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh was boring. The first section was ok surface wise, but then it became interesting when the road works followed. Some 70 km of red bulldust, holes, compacted mud cakes and other fun... combined with people who should have never attempted to drive. The driving is certainly very different from north Cambodia! Good test for the new suspension on the Bonneville though... At the end of it, just before Phnom Penh, we were covered in red dust from head to toe and looked like a couple of red haired miners. Our gear looked at least 20 years older and the bikes were hardly recognisable. 'Been on the Dakar Rally mate? Nah just a bit of main road in Cambodia :-) Of course I had strapped my not yet dry washing on the back, thinking the sun would dry it... it didn't, but the red dust liked my wet clothes very much!

So what was the new suspension like? To put it in proper English: bloody brilliant! The front has never been this good. More suspension travel and much better damping means it now no longer feels like riding a jack hammer on roads like this. It's much more stable on gravel and even corrugations can now be done without the handlebars vibrating out of my hands. They have done an absolute miracle with this bike! To top it all off my Bonneville now has the same ground clearance and more suspension travel than a Triumph Scrambler!

The local petrol station...
The rear suspension needed some minor adjustments on the damping to make it perfect, but having 70 settings to play with made it easy. It is miles better than anything I've had before (Ikon and Hagon). I thought the Hagons worked fine, and compared to the Ikons they did. Having replaced them with YSS though puts the suspension on a whole new level. Mike reckons I was going about 30 km/h faster on the worst sections than I would normally do, and yet it still worked better! At the end of the day I didn't have any neck or back problems either. Am I happy? You bet! Should have had this in Kazakhstan... but then again, now I appreciate it even more :-) The good news for all Bonneville and Scrambler riders out there is that the setup I have is available... so if you want to fit your Bonnie or Scrambler with panniers and take it off-road, or simply had enough of the state of the roads, then can set it up for you! 

Arriving at the hotel, all hell broke loose... They didn't want to give me the room for $5,-... They were shocked when they saw the booking. Apparently the executive suite normally goes for $65 a night...(!) 'Not my problem' I said 'I booked with Booking dud com, not with you. You have a contract with them, not me. If you have any problems with it then you have to sort it out with them.' Booking dud always states on their confirmation contract that it is binding, so that should work both ways. It took an hour to get it organised, whereby Booking dud com did their utmost best to get out of the contract, but in the end they could only accept and pay the difference :-) In short we paid $5, the hotel received the full $65. With all the problems we've had with booking dud com, all the incorrect addresses given and incorrect coordinates which had us searching all over the place lately, it was now time for payback. 

So what did we get? An Executive Suite of 9 metres long with two fully equipped bathrooms, two flatscreen TVs, two toilets, a separate bedroom and living room, three couches, air conditioning and a fridge! Great! We tried to book an extra night but they didn't want to hear about it :-) As it turned out the other suite was booked as well, for the same price by another lucky camper :-) and both suites were booked throughout the weekend too :-) As the TV also had a USB port, we decided to have a break from photos and writing and have a movie night!