Vicarious Bike Tour of Southeast Asia

Thailand now. Different world from Cambodia, not much like VN either really. Cambodia by far the poorest, and what a recent history that country has had! Thailand reminds me as much of Costa Rica as any where I’ve been.
We arrived at the Sea Shell Resort after a @short@ ride of about 38 or 44 km, up and down what they choose to call hills, to find a swimming pool, the S. China Sea, a little outdoor restaurant, rooms with AC. Pretty Swank. The night before, in Pailin Cambodia, at the Bam Boo Lodge, was rather less fancy. The Bam Boo has teak cabins that are plank on post–you see right through between the planks.
This morning a few of us took a short bike ride to see some sights here–just another 35 km or so, so as not to forget how to ride. Up and down a few hills, all paved except the short and extremely rough area where Cece blew a tire, around to see the shrimp farming, and then to visit a mangrove plantation that the king had planted 16 years ago, on a ruined spot where shrimp farmers had failed. Now it is a ecological preserve. Then to an aquarium, and finally back here for lunch and a swim.

Onward to Koh Chang tomorrow!

Hard to describe bicycling across SE Asia in an email, especially between now and dinner.
Hot, that’s for sure. Friendly people. Wonderful routes including one meter wide concrete roads through the coconut plantations and rice fields of the Mekong Delta, rods for scooters, bicycles, and walkers mostly. Paved and red dirt roads in Cambodia, which is much poorer than VN. (I’ll be throwing away my socks.) Angkor temples. Awesome. Another 56 k ride tomorrow, and then the hardest day of the trip, 90 k across the border into Thailand.

Biking across SE Asia is pretty difficult to encompass in an email message. Temples and mosques, stupas, humped cattle, water buffalo, and today horses pulling carts. First, a few days in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), a busy bustling city, where people are polite and clean but obviously about their own business. Small business is everywhere. VN is a socialist country but surely not a communist one.
With our tour group, bicycled three days in the Mekong Delta, along little one meter wide concrete roads among coconut plantations, rice fields, and other agricultural ventures. Stopped at Buddhist temples, houses, and biked through all manner of little communities, over arched bridges across what I have to call bayous. Numerous little ferry crossings.
Then onto a Mekong River boat and up the river into Cambodia. The temples look different here but there are still a lot of them. The country is less populated than Vietnam (After all, half the population was “terminated”,generally tortured or starved to death, in the 70s) and less prosperous, but people are cheerful and friendly and we have had warm welcomes as we cycle down country roads and through villages.
In Phnom Penh we have had some necessary historical/social time at the Genocide Museum and at a killing field. Hard to imagine how a regime could do that and how a country could recover and rebuild.
Now we get to visit the amazing temples of Cambodia in the Angkor Wat complex. We will bicycle to some temples (wats) that are a bit more distant than most bus-travelling tourists reach. Though I understand the way to get to the remote ones is to take a backpacking/camping tour, as even bicycles can only go so far.
We never really believed we could cycle 80 or more km a day and enjoy it, and get up the next day to do more, but here we are, doing it! Well, except when the heat gets to be ‘way too much and Sarah retreats to the bus- the heat at mdday is too much for this Oregon Gal.

Greetings from HCMC. The bus leaves in 12 minutes to take us out of city traffic, where we will mount velocipedes and pedal into the Mekong Delta.

Supposedly a 42 or something k. day today. Already as hot as the hinges of Hades, as they say. This is going to be SO MUCH FUN it is very cool

James, Doug, Miel, we love you. (The rest of you we like too.) Please write back. Let us know what you are up to and how things are going. I would write you your own separate email but I have to go to the loo in the next 9 minutes and be ready to go.

Yee Haw!

Vietnam is very cool in a tropical hot way. Michael, Valerie, Emily agree it is so very much neater, cleaner, more orderly, quieter, than anywhere in India. All motor bikes, few private cars. People stop at stop lights. Amazing. Lots of building and development. People are proud and friendly.

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