It's more than 14 hours of flying to China during which I make a new friend from the University of California at Davis and sleep a fair amount due to the usual kava root extract dosage. Karl and I connect with another flight and get to Phnom Penh near 11 am on Tuesday. After getting settled in the hotel we walk to the riverside area and find the bicycle rental place from last year, a fun restaurant from a few years ago, and stop in for a snack at another restaurant. We walk back to the hotel and Karl goes for a swimming workout while I go walking for another 45 minutes. After a shower Tra comes over and the three of us go have dinner. We go to a restaurant that we have been to in the past and enjoy the conversation and atmosphere. But both Karl and I are starting to drop off since it has been a long day, so we walk back to the hotel and call it a day.
We have good bicycle rides on Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday's ride is wet and muddy from rain and Thursday's ride is a bit hot, bt they are good rides. The Thursday ride sees us "egged on" by me to get farther off the beaten track. We finally end up in Prek Pnov village where the people are very poor. All of the little kids in the village rush out to scream "Hello" at us as we ride past - this being a big event - foreigners riding bicycles through their village. Of course we respond with our own waves and "Hellos" and "Sour sdeys" to them. Both Wednesday and Thursday dinners are with Cambodian friends - Wednesday with Tra at Karl's favorite restaurant on street 136 and Thursday with Duke, January, and Da at a restaurant near Aeon mall. It is good to catch up with friends. And I manage to get in a juice meeting with a new friend, Person Ch_Ca. Person Ch_Ca is a young artist wth some of his posters displayed in various cafes in Phnom Penh.
Friday is a weird day. After breakfast Karl and I get the bicycles out of the hotel safe keeping place and the rain starts bucketing down. So we stay at the hotel under an awning hoping for relief. But it doesn't come. So we put the bicycles away and walk over to the hotel across the street to pay and use the fitness center and pool. I get in a good workout on the weights machines, ride out 35 minutes of aerobics, and sit in a steam room for a few minutes to sweat out the toxins. As I get back to the hotel and finish with a shower, Person Ch_Ca texts me and soon we are hanging out at a different cafe. We also go relax in the hotel for a while before the evening activities. The evening activities include returning the rented bicycle, dinner with Tra and Donald, a bit more rleaxing in the hotel, and a night out at Heart of Darkness. The lady at the bicycle shop decides to tease me today since I was teasing her when we rented the bicycles and I think she is starting to remember me from last year. She keeps hiding my driver's license and saying she lost it and teasing me about other things. It is a sincere and friendly teasing and we both enjoy it! Person Ch_Ca has to go home before the night of clubbing, so Tra and Karl and I go out and try to enjoy the spstic DJ and his changing of the song every 30 seconds - just like last year. After 2 am Karl is getting tired so we grab a tuk-tuk for the hotel and call it a day.
Saturday is a transit day. Nonetheless I get out walking in the morning and run some errands. Before noon Karl and I meet up with Person Ch_Ca and have a two hour visit before we head for the airport. Construction is horrible and it takes us one hour to get to the airport - good thing we left early. At the airport Karl engages in a conversation with an offshore banker and I listen in just for the heck of it. We have a smooth flight and taxi/train rde to our hotel. After a few minutes we walk along Sukhumvit and observe that they have cleaned up many of the street vendors and made walking easier, rather than an obstacle course. A nice dinner finishes the day.
I'm slow on Sunday morning but get some food, drop off some laundry, and get in a workout in the hotel's fitness center. karl and I go to the MBK center for lunch and then we visit Wat Pho with the giant reclining Buddha. We also do a lot of walking and eventually take a water taxi back to our skytrain station. Late in the evening we decide where we are going tommorow and make the hotel and flight reservations.
Monday starts with a morning weights workout in the fitness center. Whereas I can get up and go cycling or running first thing in the morning, my body prefers later day weights workouts. But today I have no choice and do my best during a morning workout. Before noon Karl and I take the skytrain and a taxi to Bangkok's older airport for a flight to Chiang Rai in northern Thailand. Chiang Rai is a smaller city where the temperatures are cooler (downright chilly at night) and the sex tourists have not arrived.
Upn arrival and check-in at the Chiang Rai hotel, we walk to our favorite bicycle rental business (in a new location) and get mountain bicycles to ride. We ride a bit but then drop them off at the hotel as we lose the sunlight. We then walk to a restaurant we've been to before and enjoy dinner as the same guitar player/singer as last year plays music and sings. We stop in at the night bazaar and then stop at the hotel. I change clothes and we're off to three different clubs. Tere are three clubs within walking distance of each other with one being brand new. We start with the new club with live music and enjoy the people and atmosphere until te next table over gets drunk and starts throwing up. At 11:30 we go over to the Isaan music club and mingle with the crowd. At 12:15 we walk over to the Par Club. This club I enjoy the most. I start wandering throught the crowd and as one table starts a toast, I hold up my glass and toast with them. They immediately pull me into their crowd and offer me rum and coke and friendship. I do a lot of smiling at people and see other people I could be interested in. And have a conversation with a cute androgynous girl where I keep holding her hand and not wanting to let it go. But she has a girlfriend and wants to get back to her so I finally relent (with big smiles at each other). Karl and I finally call it a night and grab a tuk-tuk to the hotel for sleep near 2 am.