The Missing Link - Unchained Melody - CycleBlaze

December 8, 2023

The Missing Link

Phnom Penh to Kang Meas

The Missing Link

We left Phnom Penh today at 6AM which is the time we have been getting on the road everyday due to the unrelenting heat and humidity.  The weather on my phone showed that the temperatures across the entire region are 6 to 8 degrees hotter than normal.  Climate change has come to stay.  It never used to be like this in SE Asia in the winter.  But, what can we do?  We're here and today we got back on the road after a boat ride and three days in Phnom Penh.  

It was nice leaving a big city before morning rush hour.  We crossed the Tonle Sap River on a big bridge very near to where it joins the Mekong.  Then we were on Highway 6 along the west bank of the Mekong, a big road but with a wide shoulder and few cars or trucks.  We hadn't eaten anything before leaving so we were on the lookout for a noodle soup place.  We've found that with this intense heat, some noodle soup is the perfect food for us early in the day.  We saw a nice place for a change and both of us thought, 'clean', we won't get sick'.  Not that we have been sick at all but we try to keep it that way.  So we stopped and had some excellent fish ball noodle soup.   

I thought I should capture a photo of Phnom Penh as a small city. It's on the move. We saw tall building after tall building under construction. This is the Tonle Sap River which meets the Mekong a bit downstream from here.
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Noodle soup with fish balls and love.
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I think the noodle soup restaurant had a side line in extinguishers.
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As long as we had a large, smooth shoulder to ride on, and there wasn't much of interest to slow us down, we kind of death-marched (death-rode) for the next twenty-two miles only stopping to take photos of the gargantuan housing developments along Highway 6.  The suburban growth outside of Phnom Penh went on and on.  It really wasn't until we had ridden twenty miles before we felt like it was starting to get sort of rural. The housing developments may as well have had, "Money Laundering" written all over them instead of the stupid names such as, The Natural.  A more appropriate name would have been "Corruption Estates."  Cynical?  Oh, yes, I'm cynical but in Cambodia this stuff is real.  Cambodia has to be the most corrupt country in Asia and possibly up near the top in the world.  All it takes is a Prime Minister (dictator) who has remained Prime Minister (dictator) for decades (Elections?  Who needs them? Opposition? Execute them!), who used to be part of the Khmer Rouge!  Supposedly he recently handed the reins over to his son. Yeah right.  He will eventually, when he dies.  They don't get any more slippery than Hun Sen.

There were lots of these new developments miles out from Phnom Penh on Highway 6.
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And they look like imprisonment to me.
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A typical roadside attraction for me. These are shrines made for in front of homes or businesses.
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That's a lot of baguettes.
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But anyway, we rode mostly in the shade of buildings and trees for many miles and it was pleasant.  We saw many big signs advertising Krud Beer and as we rode I made up a jingle for the company which I'm sure they will want to buy from me. There are better ways to become filthy rich than killing all who oppose you. The jingle goes like this; "When you've had a bad day, just remember, at the end of it you can enjoy Krud."  I'm so proud of it.  I can't wait to be rich.  I'll be so rich I already am making plans to build my own huge ostentatious and ugly as hell housing development - Boof Acres.

When you've had a bad day, just remember, at the end of it you can enjoy Krud.
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Gregory GarceauI've only recently gotten into the advertising game, but I think the key to an effective jingle is a good rhyme. I hope you'll forgive me for making a slight adjustment to your jingle.

Was it a hundred degrees? / Was your day a dud?
It can only get better / with a can of Krud.
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Gregory GarceauYes, I knew it should rhyme but I was too lazy to do it. You, however, have come up with the perfect jingle. I knew you would. Thank you. I was just trying to be cute.
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2 months ago
Ron SuchanekSo now I have to make you a Krud tee shirt.
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2 months ago
Mark LellmanI like that it is quality Krud
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Mark LellmanI'm pretty sure Krud is Krud. There is no Krud light, no Krud dark, no pilsner Krud, no Krud Quality, no Krud Power. It's just Krud.
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1 month ago

Then we stopped for some iced coffee which was right next to a bakery.  Now, normally I don't even look at bakeries in these countries because they just make crap that no one should eat and that neither of us surely wants.  It's worse than chid!  And if it's worse than chid, man, that's bad.  But, while our iced coffees were being made I thought I'd bop over to the bakery since it was so close and because I hadn't really looked at one yet on this trip. I mean, one always has hopes when looking in bakeries.  Lo and behold, they had moon cakes!  I love moon cakes.  Actually after I eat my one per trip in Asia I always have deep regrets because they are always kind of rancid and they leave a film on the roof of my mouth that doesn't go away for hours.  I always wonder if China is getting rid of some of their toxic waste by adding it to the red character on moon cakes.  Apparently people who sell moon cakes on the street or in small shops never throw them out.  They must think they last forever, sort of like thousand year old eggs.  Still I always buy one moon cake per trip and then the regret comes.  Andrea can tell you all about it.  

But, as I was standing there in front of the case of crappy crap baked goods you can't really call pastries, I saw three moon cakes.  My small little brain thought, 'This is a bakery.  If moon cakes are in a bakery they must be fresher than the ones I've always bought on the street.'  So, I bought one.  I also bought some little gooey things completely covered by sesame seeds.  Actually, I didn't know they were gooey on the inside, all I saw were sesame seeds and I thought Andrea might like them while I ate my moon cake with iced coffee. 

We had really tasty iced coffees and Andrea loved her little sesame things that turned out to be really gooey inside and guess what?  My moon cake was the freshest moon cake I've ever eaten.  It was magnificent.  No regrets. Now I'm going to frequent bakeries looking for them.  And I discovered that a moon cake eaten and washed down with iced coffee is quite a nice combination.  It's like the missing moon cake link discovered!  I'm already wishing I had bought the other two moon cakes at that bakery.  A new kind of moon cake regret emerges!

Biting into the freshest moon cake I've ever had.
Heart 5 Comment 0
Doraemon rears his head again. Cat or dog? That is the question swirling in Japan.
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Steve Miller/GrampiesAccording to IMDB "Doraemon is a robotic cat that comes from the 22nd century. He comes to 20th century and stays with Nobi Family. The Nobis love Doraemon very much."
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanTo Steve Miller/GrampiesWow, thank you, Steve. I don't know much about this cat.
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2 months ago

As we were each deep into our treats a woman sat down next to us and was very excited to converse with us.  She didn't know much English but that was made up for by her enthusiasm.   She was a doctor.  She showed us all sorts of photos of her three sons who all became doctors as well.  I think that's what she said.  She was pretty funny and as we were parting ways she wanted Andrea to be her new friend on Facebook.  There was lots of enthusiasm over finding her name on Facebook.  

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Exchanging names on Facebook.
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Rachael AndersonWhat a great encounter!
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2 months ago

Just before we turned off Highway 6 we witnessed a big group of school kids on bikes who had gathered on one side of the road and had to cross it to go to school on the other side.  I stopped and bit my nails.  Two mothers on bicycles were chaperoning them across.  It was a tense scene because the traffic moved way fast.  But they got across safely.  We never saw many stop lights on that highway which means it is probably potentially quite dangerous.

A bunch of school kids crossing an incredibly busy road but chaparoned by two women.
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They made it safely across.
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Highway 6 goes to Siem Reap, home of Angkor Wat, but we peeled off to the north on a small road.  Instantly we were hearing more birds and were once again in rural Cambodia and loving it.  This small road hugs the Mekong River and this is where the explanation of the title of this post should come in.  You see, through the years Andrea and I have been either on the Mekong River in boats or riding next to the Mekong from the Golden Triangle area in the north all the way almost to its mouth in the delta area except for the area we are in now.  I have also been on the Mekong further upstream almost to the Chinese border in Laos.  But we had never explored near the Mekong from Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham.  Today was the first part of that missing link since we didn't get as far as Kampong Cham.  Actually, the boat from Chau Doc, Vietnam to Phnom Penh was another missing link.  We are closing up all the Mekong missing links on this trip of ours.  

The mighty Mekong more than a mile wide here.
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We were headed for the ONE guest house we saw on Google Maps which we thought we could reach in this heat.  It was about 35 miles upstream from Phnom Penh.  We loved the road we were on.  Everyone seemed to love us because I don't think I've ever had to say hello and smile and wave as much as today.  I know I've always said it is rough to travel in Cambodia and it is but the people are great, better each time we visit it seems and this makes sense since the population is younger and more removed from what went on here in the 1970's. And there are kids everywhere and they love to shout hello with excited wide smiles. So many young kids!   We were having a wonderful time slowly riding along greeting everyone.  We felt like celebrities.  There were no real towns but the houses lined the road almost without break made it feel like one continuous town.    

Then, a few miles from our 'hope-it-exists' guest house we started seeing new, full, bottles of water set out by the side of the road in front of houses.  Then more and more water bottles.  At first we (I) thought it was water delivery day and the water deliverer had left what the people had ordered by the side of the road.  Of course we had never heard of such a thing or ever seen a water delivery truck but I figured anything is possible in new, Missing Link, territory.  It was simply a wild attempt at an explanation on my part.  We (I) often have wild guesses about things.  

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This road sign is perplexing.
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Then I had a very brief thought......'How did they know we were coming this way?  We do need water!'  Andrea quickly scoffed at that theory.

Lots of the water bottles were sitting on plastic chairs.  When we started to see other things on top of the water bottles such as bundles of incense, candles, monkey balm and even perfume, something started to click with me.   Then there were five gallon plastic buckets full of water as well.  Some had flower petals floating on top of the water.  Incense, flowers and candles, oh my.....all the signs of monk involvement.  People must have put the water out as offerings to the monks.  Maybe they only did this one day per year.  The quantity of water being offered would certainly last the monks for a year or more unless monks drink more water on average than the rest of the population.  I haven't seen studies on this.   

The kids were home for lunch but it definitely seemed as though whole families were gathered in front yards waiting for some sort of procession of monks and the kids didn't seem to be returning to school for the afternoon.   There was anticipation in the air as we rode through.  There was going to be some sort of ceremony and I was very excited to see something totally new to me.   We also felt like we were in a parade of just us because hundreds of people were looking at us as we rode slowly by waving.

I bet we rode slowly for seven miles seeing water bottles placed by the side of the road on either side.  There were even five gallon bottles of water.  It was hard to look at all that water because we were nearly out of water!  I said to Andrea that they would be honored if we took some of their water bottles and Andrea slapped that idea right down.  

We stopped and tried to ask someone when the monks would show but that's like asking someone what day the rice will be harvested.  Everyone knows that monks operate on monk time, which is time nobody else but monks know and sometimes they don't even know. The elder monks might.  Nobody ever knows anything about when monks will do anything.  It was a stupid question that of course no one could answer even if they had understood my question.  

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Mark LellmanDo you think the car was for the monks to haul water with?
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Mark LellmanNo, the owner was simply proud of his car.
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1 month ago
That's a lot of water.
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Ron Suchanek...and that's only the... oh, wait. Doesn't really work here.
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2 months ago
John SolemJust the top of it?
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2 months ago
Bruce LellmanIn explanation.....John Solem and Ron Suchanek are both big fans of the film Vernon, Florida in which one of the stars says the famous line, "That's a lot of water out there. And that's just the top of it!" It never gets old.
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2 months ago
Curiously, a lot of the water bottles had been opened.
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Ron SuchanekWhen I was little and we left cookies out for Santa, there was always one cookie with a bite taken out left on the plate in the morning. Maybe that's what is going on with the open water bottles.
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2 months ago
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If all that water was to be given to the monks it would be enough water for five years.  What are they going to do with all that water!?  And a few very large trucks would be needed to haul that much water away to the temple.  That got me thinking that the water was there to be blessed, not taken away. by the monks.  I asked Andrea if we could sit there on two of the chairs holding our remaining water and get it blessed and she slapped that idea down too.  She wanted to get to this supposed guest house that was on Google Maps because it was again about 100 degrees.  I wanted to see the monks and what they were going to do about all the water.  I knew they would make off with the incense and monkey balm.  I know monks well enough to know they LOVE monkey balm.  So, they would take the non-water items but that leaves a lot of water and some of the bottles were even open.  That was another curious thing about it all.  Surely the people would want us to drink one of the open bottles but Andrea said, "No."   We rode on.

Eventually we passed a sign that was different from all signs.  We stopped a little ways past the sign and I said, "That's got to be a sign.  I think that's a sign that if we turn down that long driveway we will find the elusive guest house at the end."  Andrea looked at the sign and thought that it was a different kind of sign for sure.  By that time I was sure it was a sign for us to turn there.  So we did and sure enough there was the guest house and a smiling, sweet, shirtless man greeting us and anxious to take some of our money for the room.  We were thrilled to find the only guest house for many many miles around.  We escaped into our room, out of the heat, and luxuriated in the air conditioning.  

I took this as a sign.
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Rachael AndersonHow wonderful to find a place to stay sooner than expected! You’re being blessed for not taking any water.
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2 months ago

After I had showered I walked out to the road to maybe see what the whole water affair was all about.  The water was still sitting on plastic chairs everywhere.  The only things moving out there in the blast furnace were one American man and some mad dogs - no monks.  The water sat on the chairs waiting.  People had thrown blankets over the water bottles to try to keep them from boiling.  There were no restaurants anywhere nearby so we stayed in our room and had breakfast for dinner - papaya/muesli/milk.  From inside our room we never heard any indication of a procession down the road.  The poor shirtless owner probably thought we had died in our room because he didn't see us again until morning.  When we got to the road all the water and plastic chairs were gone.  We will never know what that was all about.  I'm sorry this has been such a lame report on what looked like a very special thing.  I wish it hadn't ended like this.

lovebruce

Today's ride: 35 miles (56 km)
Total: 221 miles (356 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 17
Comment on this entry Comment 2
Mark LellmanDid you try google translate with your host? Holy Water fer shur, but for what end? Drink it and you will have everlasting life? A cure for cancer? A winning lottery ticket? So many questions about this day. Please pursue an answer, somewhere.
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1 month ago
Bruce LellmanTo Mark LellmanAll these questions remain. I'm sorry. I didn't try Google Translate with our host. I should have. But often Google Translate is not a great help. Sometimes it raises more questions.
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1 month ago