January 10, 2013
This morning was full of false starts. We stopped into the restaurant attached to the big hotel in the center of town. They claimed that they did not have eggs, which seemed rather strange for such a bustling spot. The only two options for us was chicken soup or bread and jam. We ate bread and jam and decided that wasn’t enough fuel to get us too far so we stopped a few hundred feet down the roads and ordered omelettes. Unfortunately, they came with bacon, piled on top. Good for Chan, bad for me. So Chan got extra bacon and the half of my omelette smothered in the evil bacon grease. Not too big of a deal, but having to stop twice ate up a lot of time.
My flat tire returned once we finally started. I had checked the inside of the tire, but wasn’t able to find anything the first time I fixed it. While Chandler looked for the hole in my tube, I looked for the cause of the flat in the tire. While we did this, a group of about 8 young men began gathering around us. I was able to find a little metal sliver in my tire and Chandler patched my tube. I started to put everything back together when one of the dudes watching took over. He was not interested in my help and put everything back together for me. That was actually very nice. Then they traded turns pumping it up, and even insisted on tightening the axle nut once the wheel was back on.
The rest of the ride was hot and hard. The heat was blazing at 10am. I did the impossible and put on a long sleeve shirt because my arms were burning and sunscreen had stopped working. As usual, there was wind. The headwind has a way of zapping all of our energy. Riding against a steady wind for hours is way worse than climbing a big hill, because you get no sense of accomplishment when its over. The prevailing wind seems to come consistently from due east, so we have been quietly cursing our west to east route, which has made tiring days out of otherwise completely flat rides.
The traffic here in Cambodia is pretty crazy, but manageable and fairly predictable. However, the constant honking is annoying and frustrating. Normally, people give a quick honk to let you know they are going to pass. However, some people, usually the dreaded taxi vans, see you in the distance and start honking manically, until you are no longer in their rearview mirror. The trucks like to blast their air horns when they are right along side. Some like to honk when they see you and they are going in the opposite direction. Our favorites are the hardwired honkers, ALWAYS a Lexus or a Landrover, traveling twice as fast as even the taxi vans, in their own special lane, which is the middle of the road, horn on ALL THE TIME. Another frequent Cambodian traffic maneuver is the “layered pass” ex: I am passing a slow tractor that is passing a child on foot while a semi full of bricks passes me while a tour bus was passes the semi. Is that really necessary?
I keep an eye out all day for sugar cane juice while we ride and was just not seeing anything today. Commercial offerings are decidedly heterogeneous in Cambodia. Towns seem to specialize in one thing or another. One village had 40 stands selling rice cooked in bamboo stalks, then we see only two more in the next 200km, the same with fried snakes, roasted and flattened rice, carved stone figures, I’m sure there are others. Anyways, finally, around 1pm, I found a sugar cane stand and quickly ordered two drinks. The woman just nods her head and tells me to sit in the shade. Chandler was a few minutes behind me and asked if I ordered when he arrived. I thought I had so we waited and waited. I tried to order again and nothing. I tried to buy some cookies, but she just nodded her head. We pulled out money and pointed, and that didn’t work. What kind of store won’t sell stuff? It was getting awkward so we just left.
We finally made it to Skuon around 230 sunburnt and tired. We took wonderfully cold showers and relaxed by watching a movie about surfing penguins. The Lonely Planet guide book says that Skuon is famous for their fried tarantula. Chandler extensively searched the market but where unable to find this delicacy. Bummer.