It was an intense day! We did quite a lot of great off-road, and pushed the limit to over 100kms!

We had an option today, depending on weather. In any case we would be going down to the coast in Kep, but that was on paved road or off-road. The second option would have been tricky with rain, but it had the attractive prospect of visiting a pepper farm. So of course we went for it – and we didn’t get any rain today.

Before getting any closer to this farm however, we had a whole morning on paved road, and a bit busy all the way. Three segments of around 20k each. The scenery remained more or less one of small villages, large factories, rice fields. For the first bit, Boeun let loose the dogs of war, pushing speed to the max, and I got distanced by Nils and Malcolm, as it happened last week! But I wasn’t too far behind. We continued pushing until lunch break, at a small restaurant along the road.

For the morning breaks, we didn’t stop at monasteries, rather the equivalent of small chapels, just like yesterday afternoon : small open air buildings, with paintings or statues of Buddha. For the more elaborate ones, the donors are listed and detailed. On the second break, we were right below a school, and as it was 11am, children stared pouring out, on foot or on bike 🙂

This dad was waiting for his kids to get them back home on motorbike. I see a lot of dads along the way, caring or playing with young kids, or carrying them around. That’s really comforting.

After lunch we hit the off-road, and it felt like another country! Small steep hills typical of south east Asia, corn fields, pastures, cows… And much fewer houses and people than usual. It was also a great riding experience, on a small, firm and smooth dirt road, slaloming between puddle and going up and down at high speed! This was very intense until the pepper farm, located a bit uphill. Everyone’s legs were caked with orange dirt 🙂

The pepper farm itself was a quick visit. Apparently this part of Cambodia is famous (since the French colonies) for making good quality pepper, either black or white, or red. The black one had been left in the sun to dry for two weeks, the red one just a couple of days. And the white one is the red one boiled and the skin peeled off. They don’t produce a lot but sell it for a premium. There’s a lot of manual work involved. They use natural fertilizers : cow manure of course, and bat manure! So this is bat pepper 🙂

At this stage we could go on on bike until the hotel, another 17k on top of the 88 we just did, or call it a day and finish in the van. Peer pressure pushed half of us to keep going 🙂 It was a speed competition from the start, and Robert beat me at the last kilometer. I had secured a healthy lead, and didn’t see him coming back. I had been too arrogant, as is my divine right as a Frenchman!

Tonight we went to a seafood restaurant, a nice change, and a great crab curry!

Another couple days of cycling, another couple subjects to go after this one : mending love. Or, how to emerge through crises.

In a long term relationship, there are difficult moments. I have never seen or heard different, and that would even seem strange : life is complex, and life in a couple even more so. Communication, understanding, trust, events, anything can slip at any moment, willingly or not. What matters is how these moments are lived, and how they are experienced upon, to make the relationship stronger.

In my previous personal story, nine years long, we had quite a few difficult sequences, even leading to temporary breakups a couple of times. As the previous post said, it is a matter then of putting your ego or the relationship itself first. Do you think the first of the latter has more value ? Can you take some distance to what happened, place blame where it should and not elsewhere, differentiate between outside events and real mistakes, assume your own responsibilities ? All of these points are critical to get through on top, and it takes some maturity to process them correctly.

After that, the main question is about forgiveness. Can you forgive the mistake ? Was it acknowledged ? Truthfully ? Were amends done ? Did you, and the other one, learn from what happened ? Did it make you stronger ? Are you able to accept apologies and start again ? I’m not a Christian believer but it like the concept of forgiveness : we all make mistakes, what matters is to recognize them and learn from them. This is how you keep growing and become more mature. As a couple it is a major test, and at the same time a major way to improve the bond.


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