A real mood shift. Not necessarily getting on Strava, but being on a MOUNTAIN BIKE!!!! Clif notes: I biked from 2-8pm, crossed 3 ferries, biked around 15 miles, and was primarily on Koh Dach, nicknamed Silk Island, on the Mekong River.
Everything here takes energy. Crossing traffic, converting USD to KHM, recalling how to say "Thank you" vs "Sit down" (Ar kun vs Ang koy)...pretty great when a student does something kind for me and I'm repeatedly telling them to sit down. :) So, me getting to have 5 whole hours on a mountain bike felt SO good and EASY.
No one needing to instruct me or try to use hand gestures or broken English and I to them Khmer. I just mounted that baby, and like old friends, we were off!
I went with a guide, Narith and then we picked up another chick, Diana from San Francisco. Diana and I couldn't have been picked up in more different lodges.
I am in a guesthouse, which means that I am literally a guest in someone's house. No AC, you already saw the toilet situation (which is still going great!), a stray cat that kinda lives in the kitchen (which I am generously sharing my dinners with, obviously) and mini fridge in the hallway that is housing only mold.
Diana, on the other hand was picked up from this resort where the gated driveway was about 1/4 mile long, lined by trees perfectly spaced with lights elegantly hanging on them. The guarded parking lot was full of Rolls Royce's and Lamborghinis. The resort/hotel had giant white pillars and gold painted Ankor Lions guarding the door and a gentleman ready and waiting to open the door.
Anywho, the juxtaposition is just worth noting. You could stay at her place for one night or mine for 2 weeks for the same price. Choose your own adventure.
Back to the bike ride. It was absolutely lovely and very restorative to my spirit. It's the first time since I left on my trip that I've been in nature. I biked through Eucalyptus grooves, ornate pagodas (we removed our helmets while on these grounds and still biked!), saw men making yuba (a dried soy "skin" that they will be using heavily in soups for the upcoming Chinese New Year), drank coconut water out of a coconut, met women who weave silk in their home and was invited in for a demonstration, and witnessed a gorgeous sunset.
And the company of Narith and Diana was needed. Narith would fit right in with the friend crew in Montrose and was easy to connect with and ask questions. He has the biggest smile, as so, so many Cambodians do. And Diana, we didn't really connect until the last tuk-tuk ride home. She opened up about her life being at a juncture and shared that she was so inspired by what I was doing. I was able to speak some kind and hopefully encouraging words to her and wish her safe travels as she is presently already headed back to the US.
I will leave you with a smattering of photos from my beautiful evening. Gratitude for kind humans, trees, the wind that blows thru my hair and the silence that exists while on a bike.
This is the soybean "skin."
Mr. Thong, the owner of Vana Travel, GIFTED me a matching jersey to this one Narith is wearing! My smile couldn't have been any bigger. They would not let me pay for it. Tears came to my eyes. They were SUCH kind humans.
Reclining Buddha. I don't know if you can really see the perspective, but these two statues are HUGE!!!
There she is. This girl, she's back. :)