The Morning Bike Ride

by Harley Voogd

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The heat in Poipet these days is so intense that it penetrates everything. I put my hand on my laptop and worry about the heat it’s giving off, but then put my hand on the desk’s surface to discover it’s radiating the same amount of heat. The brick walls project heat. The feverish wooden doors. Lying on the couch is like dipping into a sauna. My pillow feels like bread freshly taken from the oven. Heated toilet seats are overrated.

So, the favorite part of my day has become the early morning just after the sun comes up and hasn’t had a chance to infiltrate anything yet. This is when I can jump on my mountain bike and hit some trails before our students start showing up for school at 6:30.

I live on the northern edge of the city so I don’t have to go far to be in the bush. Once the rainy season really kicks in I’ll probably be forced to head south onto the city’s pavement. But as long as it stays dry I’ll keep riding on what was not too long ago Khmer Rouge mine fields.

Here are some pictures…

Once a mine field, this land is now cleared and is sectioned off for future sale. Soon it will be full of houses and shops.

Once a mine field, this land is now cleared and is sectioned off for future sale. Soon it will be full of houses and shops.

Once off the roads, it’s easy to find some small trails used by the locals on their motorbikes.

Once off the roads, it’s easy to find some small trails used by the locals on their motorbikes.

No shortage of cellular towers in this country. Cambodia is the first nation in the world to have more cell phones than land-line phones.

No shortage of cellular towers in this country. Cambodia is the first nation in the world to have more cell phones than land-line phones.

It’s beautiful and peaceful.

It’s beautiful and peaceful.

I carry a retractable baton with me. Not to use on people, but on dogs. It’s not unusual to be riding along and have four or five dogs spring out of the bush with teeth flaring. They usually stay back, but if they do get too close I have the means to put the fear of man into them.

I carry a retractable baton with me. Not to use on people, but on dogs. It’s not unusual to be riding along and have four or five dogs spring out of the bush with teeth flaring. They usually stay back, but if they do get too close I have the means to put the fear of man into them.

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