Saturday, December 31, 2011

An intentional 2012

I missed the first ride for 2012 today organised by LCSG. I did not get home till 3am as I was attending a Watchnight Service and there was no way I could make it for the 730am ride. Seems there is a limit on how much we can do given our limited time each day.

Which challenges me to think about what really is important for this brand new year, this fresh block of time given to us. We can choose to drift aimlessly through this year or perhaps be a little more intentional.

If time is an investable commodity, how and what would we invest it in? For me, I can think of no better way than to invest into the lives of people. To add, to build, to brighten, to teach, to share, to help another person - brings immense joy somehow, not just to him or her but for us too. Undergirding this must be a strong sense of love, not just for ourselves, but for one another.

With that in mind, CW and I will be bringing 10 folks on a Winter Ride to Northern Thailand 10 days from now. It promises to be a great time to enjoy the scenic beauty, culture, food and fun of cycling from Chiang Mai, to Chiang Dao and then to Thaton, at the tip of the Burmese border. More than half of us will be on Bike Fridays! It took a lot of planning and research but sharing the joys of adventure touring is highly satisfying. Check out the pics by CW!
Thai massage, not for the faint hearted.

May I wish you and your love ones, a very happy, fruitful and intentional 2012 with many many delightful moments on the saddle!


So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. John 13:34

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Poodling around Kampot on clunkers

Discovering new places is always such a delight and this time after our usual work at COSI Orphanage, we headed 150km south east from Phnom Penh to the French Provincial town of Kampot. This is an idyllic town set alongside a beautiful river, and where time stands still.

Its not far from the Vietnamese border crossing of Ha Tien (opened only 2 years ago) and is only 25km from Kep, the coastal town famous for crabs. It is also near to the Bokor Mountain ranges where the French aristocrats used to have a lovely casino there in the mid 1900s. It is now in ruins along with an old but grandiose Catholic church still standing.
Pic courtesy of

Works have started to restore the glory of the resort and the Khmer Rouge were holding out their positions from the Bokor range as recent as 2001. For cyclists, it is a challenge to climb the 40km from town but the downhill reward promises to be sweet. That will be on my must do list on my next visit.

Kampot is famous for its pepper thanks to its fertile soil and we had a chance to sample that with crab, beef and veggies. Its aroma and taste is truly second to none. This town is also famous for its durians which explains the city's choice of fruit in its logo. Unfortunately, it was off season but we had a chance to try one fruit and were not disappointed.

Our 2 night stay was at Ganesha Riverside Eco Resort where we had the most amazing time. Situated 4km out of town along a small estuary and amidst rice fields, Ganesha enjoys a special uniqueness among the many typical ordinary style guesthouses in Kampot. It has no aircon, no TV and no hot water but it has plenty of fresh air, simple but comfortable rooms (mosquito nets FOC) and a glorious view of the Elephant Mountain ranges.
What added to the enjoyment was the excellent and warm service from Sok Pheara and the German owner Dirk who is also a fellow touring cyclist.

We chose to stay at The Tower which is a 3 storey building that offers a 360' view 11m high. It swallowed 7 of us comfortably and it is liken to staying in Rapunzel's Tower! What I enjoyed about it is that we all felt so cosy and yet, it offered sufficient privacy.

The 2 mornings I was there I used the complimentary bicycles to ride to town and that was a true highlight for me. Riding in the cool morning air, being greeted by friendly villagers, with awesome scenery surrounding me as I bounce along the dirt track is as good as anything can get. My 2 young friends enjoyed themselves thoroughly.

One of the must-do here in Kampot is a sunset cruise along the wide river and at US$15 for an hour, it is decent value especially when the boat can pile in as many as 15 folks. Bookings are taken at the Tourist Centre just by the old bridge and one day advance notice is preferable.
On our way up river, we saw many birds flying low in formation passing us so gracefully. That was priceless! As our money was running low, we searched for the cheapest eats in town for dinner and came across the Lazy Fish. At US$2 for rice and curry, it was pretty unbelievable though we had to endure 2 blackouts and an hour's wait for our food. As they say, you get what you pay for!
Somehow, the charm of Kampot has escaped the Lonely Planet hordes for now. Its perhaps one of the last vestiges of old town Cambodia still ticking at its own time. Go before its too late.
There is a hilarious newsletter put up by an American living in Kampot that got me in stitches. His take on Occupational Therapists in Cambodia ... don't think he will win any friends among the OT community!

Carry Me to Angkor Wat

I never get tired of visiting Angkor Wat, the 1200 year old temple ruins near Siem Reap, Cambodia. This is my 7th visit there and still, the charm and beauty of these temples always give me the greatest awe.

For the photographer, Angkor Wat in the morning and evening presents stupendous opportunities to play with lightning and shadows especially inside the temples. I had fun taking portraits of my friends and was thrilled with the results.

What a pleasure it was that I had the use of my micro foldie, the Carry Me. While my friends were dropped off at the usual temples, I could go for a little wander thanks to my folding wheels.

I have always wanted to cross the magnificent gate of Angkor Thom by bicycle again, and the last time I did this was in 2006 on a Brompton during a charity race. This time, I caught it on video and felt very satisfied.

It was nice to know that the little CM was actually faster than the elephant "tourist bus". The kids in my group could not wait to get their butts on the CM saddle. They took joy rides aplenty which brought relief to us adults, as they were starting to get all templed out. Bored kids can mean big trouble! The CM also drew many admirers and questions from curious folks.

Even a group of Buddhist monks on vacation could not resist the allure of the CM which resulted in a most fitting picture.

So it looks like the only 2 non-polluting ways to travel around the magnificent Angkor Wat is either the elephant or the bike. The former costs a small piece of trunk and leg literally (US$15 for a short ride), while the latter is free.

I know which I prefer.


Interesting Cambodia cuisine I sampled...

Small ones

Bigger ones. Spiders anyone? Some say tastes like soft shell crabs.

Fried frog legs, would you believe its like chicken?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A saturday surprise with a Friday

I'm really blessed to know the Koelnspergers these few years. We meet all sorts of friends in our life time but there are those few that somehow become really good friends. Christoph and his family are such. I met his wife 2 months ago and she wanted to get him a really nice birthday present. Chris and I suggested a brand new Bike Friday NWT since he is such an avid tourer and his last new bike was more than 15 years ago.

So began the tedious process of ordering one from the Green Gear Company in Eugene Oregon, and getting it shipped to New York where Cil, who was going there on a biz trip, could bring it back.

The bike arrived in Singapore safely and we had fun opening the beautiful package and assembling it in the aircon comfort of Life Cycle Punggol a week ago. Some tweaks needed to be done but it was not a big fuss for bike genius Chris Wee to come up with brilliant solutions.

The big day finally arrived today and we brought the sparkling black BF into Christoph's apartment. Of course, he was not at home then and the bike was decorated by his wife and daughter - a big ribbon and a German flag.

When he walked in all wet and sweaty from his roller blading session, his eyes lighted up at the new set of wheels staring at him. We of course pounce out of our hiding place and achieved yet another successful birthday surprise!

So my dear buddy Christoph, may I wish you many safe and happy kms on your new Bike Friday. Just be sure to slow down for us every now and then. Nobody could keep up with you on your simple Dahon Curve D3 at Mekong, what hope do we have now with this black steed?

Happy and blessed birthday my dear BFF!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Brompton Sunrise

You see the most beautiful things on a foldie! This morning while cycling to meet bicycle advocate Francis, I saw a sunrise that stopped me dead on my tracks at Clementi Road. I had had to dismount and savour the beauty before my eyes. That caused me to be a bit late but there are some things in life that demands us to drop everything.
Worth it don't you think?
From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised! Psalm 113:3

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Prepping for Cambodia

First time I brought a foldie into the Men's...

Today was a day of errands for me in preparation for my upcoming Cambodia trip. I decided to test the public transport system in Singapore with the aid of the ever versatile Carry Me micro bike. First stop was at the Canon Centre via bus and MRT to Harbourfront to collect my brand new Ixus 220HS - one of the smallest point and shoot cameras. My old Ixus gave me 3 years of wonderful use until some black spot developed in the lens. Replacing that costs $200, a new one with trade-in special Canon scheme only S$238. A no brainer really!

Then, it was back on the train to North Central Singapore at Serangoon to meet my buddies Mike, TW, Chris, Angkana for lunch. It started to rain but this was no issue in the comfort of the train. 20 mins was all it took and the 1km walk/10 mins was a mere 3 mins whizz on the CM. Lunch with Mike is always a sinful indulgence not that I am complaining and the good Doctor ordered me to try the stewed pork knuckles with rice. It was a lip smacking calorie laden delight and beats sandwiches anytime.

On top of that, he kindly gave me a Bar of Plenty Cadbury Chocolate from NZ! I'm so glad I'm riding bicycles and able to burn off such heavenly food.

The Carry Me needed a special box to be able to fly safely to Cambodia and the nice people at Life Cycles (thanks Simon, Boo and Minzi) arranged for me to have one, and even helped me packed it! They are one of the few bike shops that believe in delighting their customers and I would recommend them highly.

Returning home, I decided to take the bus. Once again, it was no drama as the CM packed weighs only 10.6kg and is compact enough to carry around at bus stops etc

I think I'm all ready to go, bike wise at least! Cambodia, here I come...