I Say Hello

By Stephen Ewashkiw | April 15, 2014

12,782 km so far.

When I was a child, I used to LOVE waving to boats that went past our summer cottage. It made me so excited when people waved back.

I would sprint from the dock up to the cottage deck to wave at a boat I had missed. When the people taking a cruise around the lake on The Segwun noticed me and waved back, it was the best feeling ever.

I never thought about why I liked it so much at the time. But now I know that I was thrilled by the feeling of connection you get with someone when you make eye contact, smile, and wave.

The Segwun on the water in Muskoka, Canada. Photo by Paul Hamilton.

The Segwun on the water in Muskoka, Canada. Photo by Paul Hamilton.

That small human connection meant a lot to me. In fact, when I am fortunate enough to spend time at the cottage, I still wave, and it still fills me with happiness.

Waving Not Drowning

Riding through Cambodia, therefore, is pure bliss for me. Children scream when they see us, running out to the road to wave and say “hello hello hello”. Some of the young ones jump up and down squealing with pure joy when we wave back.

A few even know “goodbye”, and some even come out with “What’s your name?” or “How are you?”. Of course, I am long past them before I can answer.

The joy the children exhibit is the same pleasure I got from waving at people on the lake. I can see it in their eyes, in their smiles, I can hear it in the shrieks of happiness. Their smiles spread in a ripple across everyone who is in earshot – what adult can resist smiling at the unadulterated joy of childhood?

Girl with a giant pink bike, Pursat.

Girl with a giant pink bike, Pursat.

Riding in a place where the children, and many adults, are genuinely excited to see you and to make that brief connection, makes me feel so happy, so alive, so young again.

Better Roads Coming Soon

Battambang to Pursat runs along highway 5. It’s a long ride, and we don’t have much time to stop and take in the sights. But the ride is punctuated with endless waving and hello-ing, which spurs us along.

People live right along the highways here, and instead of being a dead zone dedicated only to automobiles, it is a lively space, with every kind of human activity you can imagine.

pursat cambodia market

Market in Pursat.

Highway improvements are badly needed, but they are also encroaching on the lives of people who live here, sometimes quite dramatically. We went past a couple of villages where expansion had pushed the road right up to the front door of people’s houses.

While the roadwork is underway, they are left with a pile of dirt pushed up outside their house, non-existent drainage, landfill overflowing in the ditches, and a cloud of red dirt and dust billowing onto any and every surface.

When rainy season begins in a few weeks, these areas will become an impassible red mess.

More people are sure to cycle here in the coming months and years. I hope the hellos pick up your spirit as you ride. I hope you know that waving and hello-ing back with all your might warms the recipients’ hearts as well, and helps make everyone’s day at little brighter.  

Want to see the route map? View it on Ride With GPS.


  1. Comment by Malcolm and Elizabeth

    Malcolm and Elizabeth April 23, 2014 at 11:40 am

    Elizabeth wants you to know that even though she is in her sixties if she is on a land-line phone call she will say, “Gotta go. The Segwun’s coming by.” And she dashes out to the deck to wave enthusiastically….like a young child.

    Thanks for sharing your warm memories.

    • Comment by Stephen

      Stephen April 23, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      I knew you would both appreciate this post. Love you, miss you, and miss the cottage!

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