Day 10 - Meltdown on Arrival - One For the Books - CycleBlaze

March 3, 2020

Day 10 - Meltdown on Arrival

Siem Reap to Anlong Veng

Today was nothing short of epic.  I slept for a very long time and didn’t get going until well past 10am, swam in the pool for a bit, and packed my stuff.  With well over 130 km to ride, there was no way I’d get to Anlong Veng before dark but I couldn’t care less. 

That amazing hotel had been so good to me for the time here.  Paul and Ashley had left a day earlier.  I reluctantly biked out then into the city center.  There were tons of things I could have stopped for but I didn’t, including the Starbucks.  For whatever reason I was on a mission and was just going to bike this thing like a son of a bitch.  Having turned off the smartphone for most of the entire ride it was actually one of the more efficient choices I’ve made and was astonished at how less often I dilly dallied and delayed at coffee shops. 

For this stop it dawned on me how lucky I was to have the chance to do this. It was a major perspective shift.
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Lunch at some overpriced tourist stop. Cost $5. Not worth dwelling on, in the grand scheme of things this was minor
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There were no winds and it was gradual uphill the entire way so I was surprised at being able to crush the entire ride in 8 hours and arrive in plenty of time before sundown.  None of this was really making any sense.  Why was today’s ride going so much easier than the others?  My only guess is there was now more of a plan in place and some direction.  The previous few weeks, as nice as they were, didn't really have any direction for obvious reasons.

The initial part was riding through the outskirts of the Angkor Temple complex and it is truly an amazing sight to see.  Now would have been an especially tempting time to make another visit to the temples because of the lack of Chinese tourists that normally mob the place during this season.  But there just wasn't the time today for a visit.   

Still, there were plenty of western tourists anyway.  One tuktuk after the other passed by with them.  This had a tourist trap vibe and lots of children rode by on bicycles saying “Give me a dollar”.  In more pristine areas where there are no tourists, the interactions are a lot more genuine than this which is why I cycle tour.  One funny part was some kids called me “Mr King” on a bike.  To be honest, I’d make a terrible king.  If a virus outbreak occurred in my kingdom, I’d force all the gyms open 24/7 and make everyone do required exercise.  I would also abolish any of this quarantine and lockdown stay-at-home crap.

Kidding aside, if everyone was active we would see an amazing natural inoculation and prevention of the virus spreading from the start with built-up immune systems.  Now we certainly don't.

Things got much more pristine once past Bantay Srei and the traffic thinned out.  It only made sense because this was the road to the Thai border and not much else.  The interactions with the kids on the ride were absolutely priceless and my arm nearly fell off from all the waving and greetings once that picked up.  There were also tons of weddings taking place or people getting set up for one.  If the timing was right, I could have easily been invited but it was too early in the day.  The water and coke stops were plenty and cheap as it was also getting very hot.  Thankfully there was more overall cloud cover today.

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As things got quieter and quieter on the road, my mind once again reverted to processing all this coronavirus-related stuff with no solutions in mind.  I just started spinning around in circles mentally and accomplished nothing.  The solitude of the open road was all I needed at that point.

On arrival at the dusty town I found a hotel and checked in.  Later I went for food.  It was at that point I had the first major emotional meltdown of this trip.  The real surprise was how long it actually took before this happened.  The trigger was sitting in a beer and restaurant joint and the staff changed the music for me, as they assumed I would like western music.  They were not wrong.  Some Cambodian light remake versions of the latest hits came on.  As I started singing along, I started balling for no reason whatsoever.

Spent 24 hours, I need more hours with you

You spent the weekend, getting even, ooh ooh

We spent the late nights, making things right, between us

But now it's all good baby, roll that Backwood baby and play me close

Cause girls like you run around with guys like me

Till sundown, when I come through I need a girl like you, yeah yeah

It was quite simple really, the environment and music triggered an emotional reaction.  I began to miss Sophia and wondered when we'd ever be together again.  Memories came back of our time in Vegas together, how we ended up proposing, and all the memories in Shanghai before that.  I felt so fortunate to have found her, and yet now due to this fucking coronavirus shutting down China I was planning to find a job in Malaysia without her and effectively abandon the relationship.  The ideal situation is she could join me wherever I got but due to a lot of reasons that's not possible.  None of this was working out in any positive way.  If I stayed working in China I would be miserable even with such a special girl like her, but if I quit China then we would have to break up and it would be a huge heartbreak.

[Update Nobember 2022]  Unfortunately a new variant of that same dilemma began to surface all over again during and after the Shanghai lockdown in 2022

During that time I thought nobody saw me.  The waitress behind the counter in some corner was watching me discreetly the whole time.  I felt embarrassed when I looked up and saw her, but she gave a knowing warm smile.  We all have our moments.

Today's ride: 138 km (86 miles)
Total: 975 km (605 miles)

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