Friday is a transfer day. I take the BTS skytrain and a taxi to Bangkok's old airport and fly to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Another tuk-tuk gets me to the hotel. It is new year's day, so I walk over to the royal palace and see many people out celebrating and eating and having picnics. I try to greet as many people as I can and smile at them. And finally I find a seat to observe. After a while a guy from China comes over to talk to me to practice his English and later I flag down a guy to come and talk with me. It turns out he is Korean. Both Tony from China and Kim from Korea are going to be spending about 30 days in Cambodia. Eventually it is getting late so I walk back to my hotel and have decent sleep.
I wake up early and fairly refreshed on Saturday and get the day started by walking to downtown Phnom Penh to rent a bicycle. I start heading north wih the bicycle and there is a morning headwind. I'm excied to be back on a bicycle and I've got this one fit well, so I end up overdoing the way out. At the 90 minute mark I stop for a tangerine drink and turn back for the hotel. I've overdone this ride and the last 30 minutes are just a matter of keeping the pedals turning and making progress home. I take a cold shower to cool off and have a nasty cramp in my left thigh for a while. When I've rallied some strength I walk to a mall to buy supplies and end up on the back of a motorcycle for the ride home. I send the entie afternoon relaxing and recovering from the ride. Near 10 pm I grab a tuk-tuk for a club. Initially the music is hip-hop, top 40, and 15 year old songs. I'm getting disappointed. Just after 11:30 pm the music gets better but is still not good enough. Thus at 12:15 am on Sunday morning I get out the door and get a ride back to my hotel. What a disappointment!
Sunday starts with breakfast and then another three hour ride. Today I start a bit slower and there is the slightest tailwind helping me get going. Today is another ride out a national highway and there is another stretch of road reduced to dirt and rocks for construction. I bet if I return in two years the road will still be under construction. And these are not just local roads, these are national highways right near the capital city. Nonetheless I ride out for 90 minutes and turn around and get back to the hotel. I take two water/picture breaks during the ride. And today I am glad when I see the bridge which means there is about 12 minutes of riding back to the hotel. But recovery is quicker today and no leg cramps. In the middle of the afternoon I slowly walk towards the royal palace and stop for a medium pizza. I am completely out of muscle glycogen and glucose. I have half of the pizza at the restaurant and I have the other half later in my hotel room. Some of my contacts flake and so I relax in the hotel room.
After breakfast on Monday I start riding out national highway 2. There is no construction on this road and I just keep on pumping away. I stop for a couple of water breaks and try to explain to people that I am riding for fun and exercise. This ride turns out to be 4 hours and the last 5 minutes are a matter of just keeping the pedals turning over. I jump ino the shower for a cold shower and spend the afternoon recovering. Tra calls me and soon I am in a tuk-tuk with my laundry to go visit Tra, Donald, and Tra's mother (who has been ill recently). We have a nice dinner and I'm back to the hotel before 9 pm.
I'm up a bit late on Tuesday and grab breakfast and start riding the bicycle. I expect to quit after two hours, but I feel okay and continue on for a total ride of three hours. I'm wiped out when I get back to the hotel, but it feels good to have four long, hot rides in on the last four days. After relaxing for a while I meet up with a new Cambodian friend named Richard. We go have Cokes at a cafe and talk about him becoming a dentist even though that is not what he wants to do. I keep telling him that he hs to be excited about his work or it will only be work. Near 6 pm I go drop off my rented bicycle and do some other shopping and return to the hotel. Duke calls near 8 pm and we go have dinner. I expected Duke to pick me up on his motorbike, but he comes in a car. I assume it was his Dad's car who has passed away within the last 6 months. Duke and I catch up on the things that we missed since I did not see him the last ime I came to Cambodia. Duke is always fun and entertaining! And when I get back to my hotel Richard has left me a message saying he wants to get together again but it is late.
Wednesday is a slow day. I grab breakfast and just lounge around. Later in the afternoon I get a taxi to the airport and fly back to Bangkok's older Don Meung airport. Then catch a taxi and the BTS skytrain to my hotel. As I'm dragging my bag to the hotel from the BTS skytrain stop I see a food wagon in the hotel parking lot and my eyes zoom in on "vegetarion burrito". So I check in, drop off my bags, and go back and get a veggie burrito to bring back up to my room. It is very good though a bit small. But being small is probably for the better right now.
On Thursday I get up and go to the hotel gym. I don't feel like lifting weights today, so I do two aerobics machine, work the abdominals, and sit in the sauna for 12 minutes. After a shower I run some errands and just relax in the hotel. This has been an incredible trip but now I am getting ready to be home on my real bicycles and back in my bed. Near 5 pm I leave my hotel to meet up with Myo again for dinner. We go to MBK center again. I took Myo there for the first time a couple weeks ago and now he always wants to go there. We have a nice dinner and walk around a bit. Then we take the skytrain towards my hotel and walk around the area for a while. And then we go for sleep.
Myo wakes up before 4 am so that he can get to work on time. I walk with him to Sukhumvi, the main road, so that I can show him that neiher the skytrain nor the busses are running this early and that he has to take a taxi. I get him into the taxi and help him negotiate the directions and the price. And then I walk back to my hotel well before 5 am to try for more sleep. I get up and pack, take two different trains to the airport, and get checked in to go back home. Both flight are uneventfull and I get enough Kava-root enhanced sleep to avoid jet lag. I make it thorugh immigrations acustoms without a problems and still have to wait 45 minutes for an un-apologetic Person Ti_Ca to pick me up. When I get home I do a load of laundry and start in on everything that has to get done to get back to real life. How is it that I am able to travel for 5 weeks, carry my own bags, walk everywhere, ride bicycles on terrible road conditions, and do everything in third world country environments and barely get a blister, yet the moment I get home I bang my head on a shelf in the closet when putting away luggage and start some head bleadding?
Saturday starts with a good 40 mile bicycle ride past the Whittier Nrrows dam and back down thw San Gabriel river trail. I feel good and dont get bothered by the headwind on various legs of the ride. After a shower I run some errands, pick up lunch, and do some grocery shopping. At home I start in sorting mail into recycle, shred, and take further action piles. Soon I am done with the 5 week mail cleanup and can relax with a football playoff game. During the afternoon I spend two hours reading through five weeks of work emails so that I can get a running start on Monday at work.
Sunday starts with rain and drizzle. I have not heard from any cycling partners, so I take out the mountain bicycle and ride down to the old yacht club and return with a few extra miles thrown in. I ride strong today with good legs and lungs. After the ride and a shower I clean up the mountain bicycle from the rain and mud and deposiit a check in the bank and pick up lunch for later. There is a bottle of wine that is opened that I use to help me cook lunch for the week and watch the football playoff games. In the middle of the afternoon I get down for a nap and don't wake up until 6pm. But then I start preparing things for my first work day back.
I go back to work on Monday. Many people welcome me back and ask me how the trip was. Today I have periods of good productivity and insight as well as some downtime. But it's a start. When I get home I lift weights with a reasonable set of weights to get started again. And then I go walking for 30 minutes with a stop at a liquor store to buy lottery tickets for a massive powerball jackpot.