After a few weeks of trying to wrap my mind around the latest and difficult personal events, yesterday I finally understood and found the key that explains everything. It’s very hard to find the real core personality of someone else (even for yourself actually), but when you do, and every event falls into place logically, and you know what must be done, you are finally able to get to sleep 🙂 Having your days devoted to a repetitive activity like cycling really helps in getting your brain to work full time.
Kampong Thom, where we started, is a busy town, so we escaped by van before putting the bikes back together and starting the ride. Along the way we passed a district with a lot of stone carvers, making mostly Buddha statues of course. As unusual as the temple carvers of Mauritius! Before starting, I finally witnessed what I only knew from comic books : Buddhist monks praying for foot offerings. Then we started the ride, with three legs of around 20kms. Exercise started taking its toll, as we jumped to four people down, traveling by van, meaning only seven were doing the whole journey.
We never really left civilization today : there was always houses around the road, generally spaced out, and a bit closer together when we went through villages. We saw the first slopes early on, still gentle though, around 2-3%, and very short slopes of 5-6%. The countryside at this stage was turning into rubber trees plantations, where we made our first stop.
After another run, we stopped inside a Buddhist monastery. These monasteries are open to the public, mostly for religious business of course, but also for travelers. They are very large properties, with several buildings, including housing, and of course temples. Once again, lots of kids around 🙂
Rain started as soon as we stopped there, and embraced us for the third bit until lunch. It was drizzling at first, then got stronger, to a real downpour, the kind of like I only experienced once in the US. At some point I had to remove my glasses which didn’t help anymore, and choose which eye to clean alternatively to continue seeing something. Up and downhills were also on the menu, until we reached the Mekong, turned south, and entered another monastery for the break.
The fourth leg of the day was supposed to be a strong uphill, but short : 12kms. I was a bit worried, as 12kms uphill is very, very long. I did that only twice last year : to pass Cedar Breaks, and the Rocky Mountains! The whole morning I was looking out for some mountain in the distance, but there was really nothing of the sort. We started moving, 2,3,4kms, still along the Mekong and flat. 5,6,7, nothing in view. Then I understood : we were going to climb a small, but steep indeed, hill, to reach the Han Chey temple and a view on the river. Everyone but the locals ended up walking, and France topped the charts!
We reached our destination an hour later, still following the river, with a more busy road, cows and dogs all around the place. And of course, children. I checked : half of the population is less than 22, and probably a quarter less then 10. In rural areas, women have on average more than 3 children. It’s also interesting to note than almost all children aged less then 7-8 wave at us, and almost none above 10, including the adults. One should never grow old.
Today is about being loved. I had this chance only once up to now, and it was the best period of my life. It feels like fundamental yet elusive component of happiness : you are extremely lucky, or you are not, especially if the feeling is mutual.
Being loved means that someone cares about you, perhaps more than about themselves. Saying it like that also implies it is a big responsibility to accept this love and care about the person who offers it. It means being respectful and honest in return, at the very least. You would of course try not to hurt, and baske in the chance of feeling loved.
Being loved is like being in a warm bath, with foam and bubbles, and not having anything to worry about. Being in a welcoming, peaceful environment where you can forget everything and simply enjoy the moment.