Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Day 5 Cycling:
Battambang to Pursat
Total 111.04km
7:02 hrs ridetime
Average speed: 16.09 km/hr
Total (between towns): 441km ;
Odometer total (i.e includes within towns): 662km

Today's cycling was a struggle, and especially gruelling in the heat. I zipped along for the first 60km, but then just seemed to run out of puff. I plodded on, inch by inch ... the last 20 km was an eternity - like a line that never quite reached the asymptote ... nearer & nearer... 101...102 ... "omigod ... will this never end ..." .. and then the last 10km... the last 5km .. and so on ...

Finally reached the destination - Pursat, and checked in to the Phnom Pich Hotel. Such relief, such an oasis. It was a superb room, very quiet hotel, quiet town, no other tourists to be seen. I decide to take the next day off from cycling, and spent the time washing clothes, reading, and generally resting. The prospect of a further 2 x 100km rides was not pleasing.

The next day, I strolled (well, toiled is perhaps more apt - it was like being inside a huge sauna) downtown for some lunch & arrived at the Tep Machha Restaurant (also known as the Magic Fish Restaurant, as mentioned in the LP guide). The stir fried vegetable dish (5000 R) was uninspiring but the view of the river out the window was fabulous - people swimming, fishing, washing ...

People here are so very friendly, and as noted previously, while cycling along you're constantly bombarded with "hello" (and the occasional "what is your name?"), usually accompanied by delightful smiles & waves (in fact, the kids enthusiasm sometimes seemed to border on hysteria - was it really that exciting to see me (at times I felt like a cross between Santa Claus, Mr Whippy & Lady Di returned from the grave) ... perhaps they were just bored...?). I estimated that on average about 3 people a kilometre said "hello" - and typically, especially if kids, they would yell this out at least 3 times .... so during a 100km journey you're confronted with near enough to 900 "hello's"... Sweet, and well meant, to be sure, but like the so-called Chinese water torture, each "hello" became like an arrow to the brain after a few hours. It was a good challenge for me to try and remain graceful about it all.

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