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Archive for April, 2010

Flat Out

 

Hong Kong:  Metaphorically I just hit a big pothole.  For the past five days I have been seriously unwell.  No riding.  No exercise.  No energy.  Finally yesterday, after becoming very ill in the office (but after two conference calls, naturally) I capitulated and saw the doctor, got some medication, and crawled into bed.   Now I’m on the mend.  Not quite 100% but heading in the right direction.  I am amazed by the strength I lost in just five days, and concerned by the disruption to my training routine.  I have much catch up  ahead.  

I hope to be back on the bike by this weekend.   Praying for decent weather in very soggy Hong Kong.  Which sort of reminds me about the story of the atheist in the woods, which a friend in London sent me recently …..

An atheist was walking through the woods.

“What majestic trees!
What powerful rivers!
What beautiful animals!”
He said to himself.

Suddenly, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him.

He turned to look . . . and saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charge towards him.

He ran as fast as he could along the path.
He looked over his shoulder & saw that the bear was closing on him ….
He looked over his shoulder again,  
and the bear was even closer ….

and then ….. He tripped and fell.

Rolling over to pick himself up, he found the bear was right on top of him …..  
reaching towards him with its left paw … and raising the right paw to strike …

At that instant the Atheist cried out,  
“Oh my God!”

Time Stopped …  
The bear froze …..
The forest was silent ….

A bright light shone upon the man,  
and a voice came out of the sky …

“You deny my existence for all these years,  
you teach others I don’t exist  
and even credit creation to a cosmic accident ….  
Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament?”

“Am I to count you as a believer?”

The atheist looked directly into the light ….
“It would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a Christian now …   
but perhaps you could make the BEAR a Christian?”

… a pause …  
“Very well,” said the voice …

The light went out.  
The sounds of the forest resumed …  

And the bear dropped his right arm ….  
brought both paws together ….  
bowed his head & spoke …   

“Lord, bless this food, for which I am about to receive”

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Gusty, Grey & Wet

 

The weather in Hong Kong this weekend was GGW — gusty, grey and wet.  While the riding conditions weren’t very pleasant, this weekend turned out to be a good training for The Big Ride in getting experience in an less-than-ideal climate.  At times it was very tough cycling with strong headwinds and occasional cross-winds that almost tipped me over.    

Both the Saturday and Sunday rides were all about hitting the number on the odometer.  On Saturday I cycled 140 km, across the length of Hong Kong island four times (two roundtrips between Pok Fu Lam to Shek O), plus some additional hills in Shek O to boost the mileage.   Today I cycled to the Peak then Shek O then back home for a morning workout of 70 km. 

This afternoon I did what every respectable Hong Konger does on a Sunday:  go shopping.   First to get some cycling gear, then to get my son some new tennis gear.   Everybody’s happy.

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Here’s a link to a video which provides a good sense for the meaningful role A New Day Cambodia plays in the lives of some very deserving kids in Phnom Penh.  Worth watching.

http://anewdaycambodia.org.temp.livebooks.com/sources/frontsite/display_file.php?file=slideshow/6/andc_preview.mov

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Thailand:  Last night my good pal from Singapore, Dave, arrived for a weekend of cycling.   Today we rode 150km through Phang Nga’s backgrounds cutting through verdant jungle to reach Phang Nga Bay, which is beautifully littered with uninhabited islands made of limestone and covered with vegetation.  It was a picturesque ride through many small villages, and on roads that see little motorized traffic and have enough hills to keep one honest, especially in temperatures that reached 37 centigrade — that’s 98.5 degrees fahrenheit  — today.

We made it back to my place by 2pm.  A splash in the pool, lots of hydration and an outdoor 2 hr Thai massage had us feeling good as new.   Tomorrow we’re planning a shorter ride before leaving for the airport to go back to the real world.

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For this morning’s ride, I headed south to explore the fishing communities on the tip of Phang Nga, and across the Sarasin Bridge, the northern part of Phuket island.   Today’s ride reminded me why I enjoy cycle touring so much:  a chance to meet people, see things, and go places which motorized transport just doesn’t foster.  Though I have been traveling to this part of Thailand regularly for years, it was all a fresh experience.  The past couple days I’ve felt more like tourist rather than cyclist, but this weekend I’m looking forward to some heavy duty riding.

Squid fishing is big here.   At night from my place you can see the many squid boats out on the water, fully illuminated to attract the squid.  Over the years I have noticed fewer fishing boats out at night.

   

I also befriended some student monks this morning.  They were friendly; their German Shepherd less so.

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Phang Nga, Thailand:  This morning I got up at the crack of dawn to beat the heat and cycle in the environs of Phang Nga to meet the neighbors.   I headed north, in parallel to the Andaman coast, through green countryside, past water buffalos and shrimp farms, and through a series of tiny villages to arrive at the town of Thai Mueng.  A number of seemingly stray dogs motivated me to keep my pace up.    

This is rural Thailand at its best:  pretty and friendly, with life stirring — but not too much.   Most of the Thais I met (and I met a lot this morning) were very curious about the farang cycling through with camera in hand.  I was twice invited to breakfast.   

Spirit houses and Tsunami evacuation directions are both ubiquitous in this part of Thailand.  Most properties and businesses have a spirit house, and along the roads bilingual Tsunami signs, erected after the 2004 horrific event which claimed many lives in Phuket and Phang Nga, are evident.  For good reason Phuket remains on alert and news travels quickly.  Yesterday a 7.5 magnitude earthquake occurred off Sumatra in the very early morning.    By 6:15am our domestic staff were aware of and deeply concerned about this event.  A quick online surf to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center indicated there was no threat from this quake.   During the 2004 tsunami, the beach where my home is was spared from the destruction that affected other parts of Phuket and Khao Lak thanks to offshore tin mining in years past which changed the contours of the sea floor and muted the wave’s impact.

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Beach Bums

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