Cycling in Cambodia: what a bike trip to Phnom Penh’s newest tourist attraction reveals about how lives in the capital are changing

The new US$12 million Win-Win Memorial in the capital’s north provides an enticing destination for one Phnom Penh resident fresh off self-imposed isolation.

A bicycle ride in Cambodia is guaranteed to offer the following: waving children shouting hello, boys on bikes too big for them trying to race you, dusty tracks past dusty fields, and someone selling cold Coca Cola and Carabao from a large red cooler.

On a recent ride, however, anti-Covid-19 scarecrows – a traditional rural response to sickness, using old clothing stuffed with straw to resemble people (some even with plastic guns for extra menace) – hung outside houses to ward off the virus. The lack of face masks and social distancing, however, suggests the people in Cambodia do not feel too threatened.

Earlier this month, as my self-imposed isolation was coming to an end, I yearned to escape the four walls of my flat and once again see life outside Phnom Penh. A cycle ride from the heart of the capital, an ever-growing city of 2 million people, through its rural suburbs and eventually leaving the city behind would be the perfect opportunity to once again stretch my legs, get my too-clean bike dusty and explore the different sides of Cambodian life.

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