We continue transmitting the chronicles of Matteo Tricarico’s new biking trip from Asia to America…
From our landing in Bangkok, so far we travelled 1,300 kilometres and the 26th of February we added another 120 kilometres arriving in Sisaphone, at the north-west tip of the lake. A month was already gone since our arrival in Indochina and the cool days of early February were replaced by the first signs of the monsoons, for now only loaded with humidity but soon of rains too. The temperature rose to over 35° C with 90% humidity, bringing to the limit our heat resistance.
The following day we were invited to the second day of my friend Morokot’s older brother wedding celebrations, taking place at the bride’s home in a rural area outside Battambang. Another first experience for Marta, who fell in love straight away with the Cambodian traditional wedding dresses worn by about 300 Cambodian women guests. The clothes are mainly an ankle-length skirt with a bodice neckline that leaves bare shoulders, all in shimmering multicoloured and bright silk. The main dish was a tasty salad of jelly chicken legs, initially appreciated also by Marta… however, she does not recognise yet the true delicatessen of the rural cuisine and therefore she fed on the more familiar fried rice with vegetables. In the afternoon we went to visit a banana plantation owned by Morokot’s cousin and the next morning we left again heading south-east, along the west shore of the lake.
We reached the colonial town of Kompong Chhnang where I was in contact with father Franco, a missionary of the PIME (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions). He has been living in Cambodia for the past 18 years where, in addition to pastoral work, he assists some projects managed by the humanitarian organization New Humanity, active in the field of childhood disability and education. We spent all morning with Franco, who invited us to his house for a mocha coffee, which was much appreciated by my travel companion who feels something missing without her daily cup of coffee. Franco took us to the centre for children with disabilities in town where day-care service is given to about 20 children, some autistic, others with Down syndrome and with other disabilities.
On the next day, we completely cycled around the Tonle Sap lake reaching back to Phnom Penh in the evening, and staying at the Tokyo Central Hotel near the Independence Monument for a couple of days. Marta began to discover some of the pleasures of living in Asia going to get an oil massage, which relaxed her very much, and a complete manicure with a polychrome enamel floral designs on her 10 fingernails. We are waiting to receive back the passports with visas for Vietnam to be able to go through the delta of the great Mekong River and reach Ho Chi Minh City. Meanwhile, this weekend we are going to meet some friends and on Sunday we have been invited to lunch by Claudio and his wife Sophiep in the countryside around the capital for a real Cambodian home cooking dinner. Until next time.
PS: During my last passage though these areas, between October and December 2009, I wrote a few chapters of the diary full of information on Cambodia history, economics, culture, etc.. You can read them clicking HERE.