I arrive in Cambodia on Friday afternoon. I'm trying a different hotel and it is down by the riverside near all of the clubs and bars. I didn't know that ahead of time. We'll see how noisy the place is. I go walking for a while and stop in to have dinner. I make conversation with one of the restaurant workers, Person Bu_Ca, and soon he gets my number and we've friended each other on facebook. After dinner I walk back to the hotel and just relax.
I sleep late on Saturday and get out to an ATM and to my usual bicycle rental place. I get a bicycle and have a good 60 kilometer ride with a little headwind going out which helps me coming home. Today is hot so I cool down and relax in the hotel until 6pm when Donald and Tra come meet me to go have dinner. Donald has to go visit his ailing aunt in the USA so this will be my only meeting with him. But the three of us have a great dinner and then go to a bar for a drink. (I drink Sprite.) During dinner there is a grade A Phnom Penh drenching of rain and I enjoy listening to the downpour. Afterwards I go relax at the hotel and get ready to meet up with Person Bu_Ca after his work ends at 1 am. We find a 24 hour place and sit and talk for a long time. Eventually Person Bu_Ca walks me back to my hotel at 3am before he gets his motorcycle and rides home.
I wake up very late on Sunday but get out the door on the bicycle quickly. I do a straight southerly ride out of Phnom Penh and enjoy the sites and sounds and smells. When I get to a convenient halfway point I stop for an orange drink. And everyone crowds around me and wonders what I'm doing out here. And it turns out that Dad speaks some English but the 13 year old kid speaks some very good English. But he's shy and has to be pushed by his Dad to try. So I take up the conversation with the kid with the usual "What is your name", "How old are you", "Do you go to school" questions so that he can practice listening and responding. EVentually I head for home and just have to fight off burning, pinchy eyes as I think some sunscreen has gotten into my eyes. A cool shower feels good when I get home and then I relax a bit. At mid afternoon I get on the bicycle and ride to a pizza place and have pizza and Coke. Later in the evening I get back to some python programming and find the bugs that I had left over from last Thursday when I last played with the code. Again near 1 am I go to meet Person Bu_Ca near his workplace. Tonight we just meet for 45 minutes as we are both tired.
Monday starts with a 45 kilometer ride out to Prek Pnov and back. There's some gusty wind that makes some parts of the ride more challenging than would be usual. And I'm getting worn out. After the ride I take laundry out and relax in the hotel. Later in the evening I go walking around and stop for dinner. And then I continue walking around the Grand Palace and the riverside until I am tired and go to sleep.
Tuesday is a planned day off of the bicycle since three consecutive days of riding in the heat is enough to warrant a rest day. I head to the Feel Good Cafe coffeeshop and have lunch and work away on some websites and an interesting little correlation problem between stock market price changes and the number of Tweets sent out by our current president. The Feel Good Cafe tries to provide sustainable products and sustainable employment/benefits for their employees. It's a bit more expensive than other places, but its worth it. The service is great and friendly and the food is good. I relax a bit in the hotel, then Person Bu_Ca and his friend, Person Fr_Ca, come to visit. We walk around a bit and then have a nice dinner. From there we walk to the Grand Palace and then all of the way along the riverside to the night market. We hang out for a while there until I notice that Person Bu_Ca's eyes are drooping - so he should go home and sleep. We walk back to my hotel and they take their leave. An hour or two later Person Bu_Ca texts me and says he just wants to be friends. It's okay. It was going to be a difficult uphill path anyway. But then he says he wants to come and stay with me in my hotel. I'm confused, but I let it slide and let him come over and stay.
Wednesday starts near 8:30 am. It was good to spend the evening with Person Bu_Ca and catch up on more facts of his life (and vice versa). I send Person Bu_Ca on his way and get out for a bicycle ride. Despite yesterday being an off day from cycling, I don't have it today. At some point I turn around and head towards Wat Phnom just to check it out again. It's a two hour ride, but it wasn't high quality. I'm just downright worn out and ready to go home. After relaxing in the afternoon I go to meet Person Na_Ca for dinner. We walk to a restaurant along the riverside and have a nice dinner. Person Na_Ca is nice. Afterwards I call it an early evening and am getting down for sleep near 11 pm.
I sleep very well into Thursday morning. I'm out the door for cycling at 9 am and go back to Prek Pnov and do some exploring. EVentually I head for home for about 60 kilometers. And what do you expect? I've ridden hundreds of kilometers in many cities and villages and countries on this trip and I get within 2 kilometers of home on the last ride...and disaster. Almost. A motorbike comes screaming in from left behind and hits my front wheel/tire with its right exhaust. And we bump back and forth a time or two. I'm not sure how I stayed up. But the motorcycle sees that I stayed up and continues on its way. And I have no choice but to continue on also. After returning the bicycle I head to a coffeeshop again to eat and work. Later I grab dinner and walk around near the Grand Palace and riverside area ad say godbye to Cambodia for this trip.
On Friday I have a smooth return to Long Beach (except for the incident described in the next paragraph). All of the flights are smooth and the trains run relatively well. When I get home I walk to the grocery store for supplies and then start unpacking. I have a routine where I leave the suitcase on the back porch and pull items out one by one to put in the washing machine in case I have picked up any bugs from my travels. I methodically empty the suitcase and get the laundry started. Person M_Fl stops by and we have a nice vist as I do the laundry in parallel. And finally I get down for sleep near 11 pm.
The Phnom Penh Airport Incident I get to the Phnom Penh airport early and go sit in a restaurant to eat something. A little while later three guys sit at the table next to me and start talking. They are a bit loud, bot not execssively so. But I cannot understand much of what they are saying. At first I think they are Australian, but I hear no "Mate" or "G'days", so they must be British. The leader of the group uses the f-word and s-word (and others) in every sentence but many of the other words are unitelligible. The other two use the bad words every fourth sentence. Their food order is messed up by the Cambodian waiters, so then they go off on the Cambodians not being able to do anything right. They eat their food, continuing the harsh language and unintelligeble gibberish, and then head for the check-in counter. I take my time eating - hoping I won't hear or see them again. Eventually I wander to the check-in counter and see the three guys a few rows over for a different airline. And I can hear them talking bceause they are loud and because of the offending words. As I'm waiting my turn, I see the leader and at other times the two other guys walk somewhere else, come back to the check-in counter, walk somewhere, and come back to the check-in counter. Where could they be going? Nonetheless I hear and see the leader of the group starting to get irritated and using more harsh language. And I start laughing. Loud. The other fliers have heard the harsh language and don't know how to respond and they just smile at me as I laugh. The Brits end up going between another location and the check-in counter at least three times. Where could they be going? And soon I'm just laughing so hard that there might possibly be tears coming from eyes. I manage to compose myself and get check-in for my flight. I've lost where the three guys are - hopefully they got checked-in. Since I'm early for my flight, I slowly wander over to passport control. And before I see them, I can hear the three Brits mumbling loudly with many f-words and bother bad words being tossed around. I see the Brits and take a passport control line about three rows away. And soon I see the leader (and the other guys) going to the passport officer and then back to the document preparation table. This goes on three times. Don't they know how to fill out a simple departure form? And so now I start laughing really loud. The Brit leader sees and hears me laughing as I'm staring at him and he yells at me, "What the f% are you laughing at?" and a few seconds later he continues with "What's so f*#^ing funny?" I just keep staring at him and laughing. And he's getting more and more irritated with the paperwork, the possibility of missing his flight, and the guy laughing at hime. Soon I'm called to the passport officer and I speak a few words of Khmer to him and he smiles. I'm sure he knows I can't say much else so he asks me about my ability to speak Khmer and I tell him that their are many Khmer people in my hometown city but they won't teach me Khmer and I'm not sure why. He looks a bit puzzled but smiles and, possibly because I've spoken some Khmer and I have tears running down my cheeks from laughing so hard, I get my passport back very quickly. I take note of where the three Brits are and I notice that the leader has run to security and left his friends behind. Who leaves their friends behind in hopes of making the plane with the possibility of their friends missing the plane? What happened to being a united team? After security I've lost the group again and start wandering the airport because I like to walk between or before long flights. And soon I see the three Brits at the wrong gate. And I start laughing again. But just as the Brit leader turns to see who is laughing I manage to hide behind a poster. I check occassionally to see if he or they are still looking for me and when I see that they have dropped the search I casually walk away from their gate towards mine.