13,357 km so far.
This morning, I was on the brink of staying in Sihanoukville for one more day. The food we had last night was so delicious, and the sleep I had last night was so lousy, that I couldn’t quite bear the thought of leaving.
I knew my legs would be heavy for every single stroke of the 100 km we faced, but lingering somewhere so unappealing was… unappealing.
We set out at the late hour of 9:30am, when it was already blisteringly hot.
Quiet Fishing Village
It shouldn’t surprise me by now, but I am always amazed at the change a few kilometres of cycling can reveal. With barely any effort, we left the tourist-centric city and found ourselves in a quiet fishing village. Our road looped around the Gulf Of Thailand, but we couldn’t see the sea. Between us and the water were rows of little shacks, made of corrugated steel and found wood, holding all of modern Cambodian life inside.
Families crowded around bowls of rice and meat soup for breakfast, children called out to us, women wove fishing nets, and dogs scurried underfoot.
Occasionally we caught a brief glimpse of the beach and the water beyond the houses. The sea is a tropical blue you only see in movies and other people’s vacation photos, but the beach was a pile of rubbish, some of having been thrown from the houses along the shore, and much of it washed in on the tide.
Without proper garbage collection and disposal services, and with the ubiquitous use of plastic bags, cups, bottles, and straws, this sad sight is not a new one for us – not just in Cambodia, but all around Asia.
The villages finally gave way to open beach and we soon found ourselves abreast a beachside park, complete with promenade and shelters for picnicking. The beach was one of the prettiest we’ve seen, yet, being on this side of town, it was empty.
That is, except for its own collection of disposable plastic.
As we circuited our way around the hills near Sihanoukville, a storm started brewing up on the slopes. Ominous clouds gathered, and soon, zippers of lightning were splitting the sky in two. Thunder claps were not far behind and soon sheets of gray rain raced across the hillsides.
A miraculous cool breeze swept down over us, and we rode the edge of the storm for hours, until I started to think that someone had built this road to perfectly skirt the edge of the hillside storm systems.
A few minutes later, I realised how wrong I was.
Suddenly, our sunlight blinked out and sharp needles of rain pelted into our skin. We went from sticky and sweaty to being in need of a good wringing in about 60 seconds. The great thing was, unlike the rains in Europe, this was a welcome change, cooling us off, taming the dust on the roads, and allowing us to keep pedalling harder than we normally would.
Eventually, when we started to feel like those ridiculous TV reporters who stand around in hurricanes, we took shelter in a little drink stand, sipping Cokes until the blue sky regained control. ♥