Southeast Asia is a mecca for cycle tourists, meaning we cross paths with bicycle travelers almost every day.

This German couple from Cologne has been on the road for 18 months.

You may just be wondering the same thing

When our new cycling friends find out how long we’ve been on the road ( 5 years, 9 months and 6 days– not that we’re counting), they invariably ask the same exact question:

“Are you still having fun?”

It’s a hard one to answer.

If we meet early in the day, when I’m fresh and enthusiastic and the road ahead seems full of possibilities and adventure, the answer is probably “yes.”

Fresh and full of enthusiasm!

Catch us at 2PM after we’ve been spinning our wheels under an unforgiving Cambodian sun for the past six hours, you can bet the answer will be an emphatic, “No!”

Being constantly on the move takes a toll.  A continuous onslaught of new languages and customs, strange foods and different cultures is taxing in so many ways.

We need time to take it all in, adapt and adjust.

Eric Bicycle Touring in Cambodia near Siem Reap
One hard thing to adjust to is the traffic. Streets are crowded even at sunrise.

Simple happiness!

But there’s one thing about bicycle touring that never ceases to delight me:  random connections!

We’re in Cambodia at the moment, and I’ll have to admit to something rather shameful:  I got tired of visiting temples.

Angkot Wat at sunrise on Day 1 was spectacular; I didn’t even mind sharing the view with the 5,000 other tourists who’d rolled out of bed at 5AM to take in the view.

Angkor Wat at Sunrise

 

But by Day 3, I was weary of the Wats.  And the Japanese tourists with humungous cameras slung around their necks who got in the way of MY photo taking.  And the locals hassling me to “buy water, cheap price, madam, I give you $1.”  And the fact that there were actual TRAFFIC JAMS at Angkor Wat owing to the fleets of tourist buses.

On Day 3, I’d reached my jam-packed tourist attraction breaking point and convinced Eric to leave early and pedal back to the guesthouse on some side roads.

And there, biking through some tiny villages not mentioned in any of the guidebooks, we found our magic!

Just regular ‘ole life!

Sure, there was nothing special to see, just people going about their daily lives.  Women buying and selling things at the market, itinerant salesman hawking their wares, kids heading home from school, a lost toddler wailing on the side of the road, a man hitching up his team of water buffalo, boys working in the fields, old men drinking beer far too early in the day.

But, for just a moment, we were a part of it all.  We weren’t treated as tourists, but visitors passing through.

After haggling over some fly-infested pineapple in a dusty market, we were brought chairs and made to feel welcome.

Mothers brought by their babies to check out the strange foreigners with the badly burned skin and I cooed and said “Hello Baby!” which brought peals of laughter.

We stayed but a few minutes, but those moments were magical.  And that magic is what keeps me turning the pedals when it’s 2 PM and I’ve been spinning my wheels under an unforgiving Cambodian sun for the past six hours.

Nothing pressing at the moment? You can...

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Are you still having Fun?

7 thoughts on “Are you still having Fun?

  • Neil
    March 12, 2012 at 6:34 AM
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    Aah, the joy of the backroads – I’m totally in agreement with you on that one. I’ve become tired of going to temples/churches/mosques, but never of watching everyday life in those quieter places. Magical indeed!
    Hope you’ve recovered from your illness,
    Neil

    Reply
  • World Biking
    March 12, 2012 at 7:52 AM
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    So glad someone can relate, I often feel guilty about not wanting to run around visiting all the guidebook recommended attractions.

    Recovering from my stomach bug and using it as a good excuse to indulge in some hours on the internet.

    A tip for our cycling friends out there:
    Check out Neil and Harriet’s new Andes by Bike website-

    it’ll give you the inspiration and confidence you need to take on some high passes in South America.

    http://andesbybike.com/

    Reply
  • Rudolf
    March 12, 2012 at 9:30 AM
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    Thxs for the Andes link

    Reply
  • Denise Blanchard
    March 12, 2012 at 8:26 PM
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    Hi Amaya,

    Very good text! I like your honesty about life on the road. Always a pleasure to follow your adventures!

    Denise

    Reply
  • graham
    March 14, 2012 at 1:47 PM
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    Hi Amaya and Eric
    Good to hear from you again. time seems to fly by quickly. i watch the map constantly just to see if London appears. hee hee. one day. Murphys Law when you do come to London we wont be here. mmmmm
    hope the weather cools off just a tad.(not to the point where it rains) but i am very sure after tackling the African heat you will be fine. in our very limited travels, the less travelled road has always been a suprise and most times has been the best part of the trip. Keep the miles passing and waiting already for the next blog. Enjoy and say hi to Eric for us. cheers for now

    Reply
  • maureen fleming
    March 15, 2012 at 1:34 PM
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    We continue to love your blog. Your Dad sends it to us regularly.

    I too began to tire very quickly of the Wats in Angkor Wat. Much more interesting was our guide who had been in a concentration camp under Pol Pot. He was a fountain of knowledge. I do hope that you went to Saple Lake. It is fascinating. There is great hatred of all the Vietnamese who live on the lake and do most of the fishing. There are many tales in this fascinating country.

    Where to next???

    Maureen

    Reply
    • World Biking
      April 8, 2012 at 7:21 AM
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      Nice to hear from you Maureen! We missed Saple Lake but still enjoyed a lot of beautiful Cambodian scenery.

      Reply

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