28 January 2012
Had a chat with Mrs Chen this morning. She said she was born in Cambodia, but her ancestral home is near Shantou in eastern Guangdong province.
She's probably in her mid fifties, implying she was born in the 1950s - my guess is her parents left China after the communists took over in 1949, and she was born after Cambodia gained independence from France in 1953. Must have been hopeful times before everything went properly pear-shaped in the 70s.
I was amused when she pragmatically explained that I could have skipped Vietnam and southern Cambodia, and come straight through into northern Cambodia from southern Laos. She's right, I tell her, but I wanted to check out southern Vietnam. Next time I'll take the short cut. She comps me a breakfast of rice noodles and hot chocolate, so I depart feeling better about the cheap bug infested room I spent last night in.
Bit of an another-day-at-the-office ride today. I get a gentle and manageable headwind on and off for the first section of the ride, before I turn to head west at Kampong Thma. I take a key Coca-Cola and coconut biscuit stop just before the turn and it really improves matters.
A slow puncture at around 70km did not. There's still no evidence of anything making it through the tyre, but trying to track down a slow puncture on the roadside is next to impossible. There's only so many times I'm prepared to lick my inner tube. I have an audience of nine kids as I swap the tube. While I'm doing so, a Toyota Land Cruiser careers past, smoke and flappy sounds emanating from the rear offside wheel. I'm glad bike punctures don't pan out like that. When I pass as I ride off, I see his tyre is toast, broken well beyond repair.
The last 20km are the fastest of the day - a bit of tailwind, fed up with being in the sun, looking forward to a feed. Kampong Thom has a random Western restaurant with pizzas and pasta. I'll be doing my overeating there.
92km, 21.0km/h, 4hr24min, 4951km