Rising up, I wasn’t sure I would be up to the challenge : that was another sleepless night, where all the pills in the arsenal did not help a bit. It’s very hard getting a grip on your brain when it has decided to mull over everything it has in store. The upside is that it does produce result. But the downside, no sleep. Plus the B team for gear : my bike short, gloves and shoes were still wet. So, would I be able to get through the longest day for a year ?
We left even earlier, 7:30, to go north east, leaving the city on another path. We quickly escaped the larger paved routes to go back on dirt roads and enter the countryside. There was still houses along the way, some of them very nice, all constructed on stilts. Many children were waving at us 🙂 It wasn’t hot yet, I had a butt cushion made from another short, it was ok when we reached our first stop after one hour. Having regular stops with drinks and fruits makes the whole difference.
The second bit was more difficult, with mostly dirt road but with lots of rocks. But we really entered the countryside, with deep views, rice fields, cow cattle migrating form place to place. Lots of nice moments! Many views were postcard-worthy. I was getting a bit tired, but it was enjoyable. I was also cycling alone mostly : a pack of three riders was outpacing me, while I was outpacing the rest of the group, itself split in three parts. The second break was really welcome.
We then followed a larger, paved road, with some traffic, more housing again, up to our destination and lunch break. After ten minutes the group was split with the same logic. Boeun and his two fellow riders, plus the two vans, had a lot of work to make sure nobody got lost at intersections! We were now in a more forested, hilly environment. Hills were still very small and manageable. We were passing many children, leaving school with their uniforms, on bikes way too large for them.
Our main destination today was the river of Thousand Lingas (a type of stone pavement), a walk in a small mountain, in the jungle, to reach an ancient Hindu ceremonial site, where rocks in the river had been carved. I love walking in such old forests, with roots coming and going everywhere, the sunlight playing tricks, and a path where you jump, crawl or escalate. It feels like being in an old fantasy setting like in the movie Dark Crystal. Walking uphill was also a nice change and a good cardio exercise.
We did a last stretch by bike to visit a small Hindu temple, Banteay Srei, also known as the women citadel, dating back to the 10th century, a bit older than Angkor Wat, and built from volcanic rocks again. This gives the temples a sort of dark, almost evil atmosphere. During this stretch I tried sticking to the front pack. I reached Malcolm, who did not keep up, but was still a minute behind the other two. But hey, at least I try 😉
Then we jumped in the van to drop by a landmine museum : Cambodia has been stuffed by personnel and anti-tanks mines during the many years of war before, during and after the Khmer Rouge (strangely the name remains in French) period. Plus it got bombarded by the US during the Vietnam war to cut off the Ho Chi Minh trail. So there’s still a lot of risk finding explosive material in many areas.
We went back to the city by van, right as the rain started falling. Not today, rain! Strangely, I am still the only one to really use the pool after the ride. I don’t know of a better way to relax the muscles (apart from rough sex, obviously).
An easy question tonight ! What is love ? Once this question is settled, I’ll solve middle eastern conflicts and world hunger. I will limit to my own view, as the world literature revolves mostly around this question already.
Love is to me the strongest, most important feeling. It is a possible answer to the meaning of life. It is the only time where you don’t live for yourself, by yourself, but also for and through someone else. It makes the difference between a possibly enjoyable life, to a passionate, fulfilling life. As the poet said, all you need is love. And Internet added : and all you want is sex, and all you have is porn.
Love is thinking, caring and being devoted to another person, while at the same time enjoying its presence, its quirks, and reveling in its qualities. It is said love is blind, and that you tend to forget imperfections and downright defects. But this has not been my experience. Love is getting to know the other person and accepting her as she is, with her complexity and obsessions (for instance).
Love is to me a mixture of hope about tomorrow, pleasure of today, and joy of yesterday. Love is built on what you share, what you experience together. This is the point that was made today by Jennifer, while cycling in the countryside, about her 40+ years of marriage.
Falling in love is the best verb to be applied to the feeling. I have always felt that it is akin to jumping in a pool : at some point, you decide to let go. You can turn around the pool for a long time, getting to know the details, reassuring yourself about this or that, testing the water maybe. And then you fall, you forget about reason and let passion guide you. It is clearly, at this moment, the brain getting disconnected and hormones taking over.
I have had a tendency to fall in love relatively fast : a few days, a couple of weeks. Last time was a few minutes. I don’t like the English expression “love at first sight”, and prefer the French version “coup de foudre : thunderstruck”. Still, falling in love so fast could prove to be a mistake, but if it takes hold, then it’s real.