Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A friendly "race" in dusty Cambodia.

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It is always my joy to visit Phnom Penh Cambodia to see our wonderful children from COSI Orphanage. We have been there since 2002 and to walk with them till now, where they have grown into beautiful young adults, simply fills my heart with great joy and thanksgiving to God. Among them are an engineer, physiotherapists, a business executive, a physio student and a medical student.

On my last trip, we organised an overnight stay at the White Elephant Resort some 13km out of Phnom Penh. So it was near enough for everyone to go there on their small scooters and there was room for 3 of my team as well riding with them, one scooter even taking 3 on board.

I decided to take this opportunity to use my trusty Brompton and cycle there. Rex who knew the poor dusty road conditions and heavy traffic well, predicted that I would be faster than them on motorised scooters but I was skeptical. Anyway, it was to be a friendly race and I was excited. Could my small 16" wheeled foldy actually arrive faster than scooters that can hit 100km/h?

The kids came to our hotel at 1030 and we gathered as planned. We managed to get 9 people onboard 8 scooters with luggage including a guitar and watermelon!

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Riding through the chaotic traffic of Phnom Penh may seem very dangerous but once you understand the order of things, it is actually a lot of fun and safer than you think. There is a certain understanding and courtesy between motorists and it works. We decided to ride via Sisowath Quay riverside area to give our overseas visitors a bit of a sightseeing tour of this beautiful city and yes, being a Saturday and a public holiday, traffic was thick and slow.

The bottle neck was at the bridge crossing the Tonle Sap River. It was stuck and stuck thick with all sorts of vehicles, trucks, cars, tuk tuks, motorcycles/scooters and even hand pulled carriages. I took the opportunity to carry my Brompton onto the pedestrian embankment so that I could get out of the traffic but alas, so did some scooters but at least our lane was moving. We were actually held up by 2 pedestrians walking but nobody honked them, and we followed them behind patiently. At least we were moving while the traffic was at an unpleasant standstill.

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When I reached the end of the bridge, the heavy traffic continued as there were road works and we were all hardly moving, inching bumper to bumper.  Even the scooters were stuck as there was absolutely no room. I have not been in such a tight situation! But the advantage of the compact Brompton was that I could find gaps to push my way through whether into traffic or the footways of shops, squeezing and carrying at times until we finally got out of the mayhem.

By this time, we were all separated. I saw Sophorn earlier but she asked me to go ahead and when I finally got out of traffic, I could enjoy a good 25km/h cruise along fairly good roads. Still, the dust and the pot holes made for a challenging ride and I enjoyed myself thoroughly!

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I decided to stop and wait for the rest but they were nowhere to be found. After sending a GPS location to the group on Whats App, I received a call to say that they had decided to stop at a restaurant for lunch some 4 km behind me. With the heat and dust, turning back was not appealing and I decided to press on towards the resort. Passed by a bicycle shop and got my tires pumped up to 70psi for a 20 cent tip and I was really flying after that.

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I was surprised to arrive at the White Elephant Resort in a shorter time than expected. Seems like Rex was right that indeed, the bicycle is faster than even the motorcycle when it comes to the clogged and dusty road conditions of Cambodia. I folded my Brompton much to the amazement of the staff and a nice security guard pushed my bike into the resort for me and I settled in the restaurant by the beautiful pools.

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While the kids were enjoying their lunch which they generously bought, I savoured a lovely Thai basil minced pork lunch with a fried egg that I wolf down very gratefully, washed down with iced winter melon drink. All the cycling in the heat got me hungry! 

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I had time to check into my spacious room and unpacked before the girls streamed in, followed by the boys. It was great to have "won" our friendly race and we had a most memorable time with our kids whom we love dearly.

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Our special time together ...

We spend the afternoon in the swimming pool and that was a most perfect way to cool off. Cil and I gave swimming lessons and we were so impressed with Sophorn, Kimthan and esp Chet who learned so quickly.

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It was great to also have a beautiful time of worship where Henry led us on his guitar and there is absolutely nothing more worthwhile than giving praise and thanks to our Creator.

I took the opportunity to teach a session on Biblical Financial Management as well looking at topics like risk and rewards, needs and wants, saving and investment strategies and lessons from the Parable of the Talents in Luke 19:12-27.

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The White Elephant Resort is a lovely resort that I can recommend highly if you are ever in Phnom Penh!

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Wishing everyone a very blessed Christmas! Thank you for reading Lovethefold.

For unto us a child is born; unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder. These will be his royal titles: “Wonderful,” “Counselor,” “The Mighty God,” “The Everlasting Father,” “The Prince of Peace.” His ever-expanding, peaceful government will never end. He will rule with perfect fairness and justice from the throne of his father David. He will bring true justice and peace to all the nations of the world.

Isaiah 9:6-7  TLB


Unknown said...

Wow! Brompton won!

Unknown said...

please contact me on mewsumw at gmail dot com we're doing folding bike events and want to invite you to Brunei.

Unknown said...

Well done on winning the race Alvin
As usual the reward at the end Food looked great. But the main event time share & worship with the "kids" I am sure was a great blessing to you and Celia.
BTW love that bike helmet sun visor didn't know those existed.
Fred W.A.