As I head out of Phnom Penh on my trusty mountain bike,
The paved roads get narrower, turning to dust, potholes and the like.
On the slow moving and uneven roads, motorbikes share my space,
Also farmers with water buffalos, walking at a ponderous pace.
The landscape view is flat and wide, with occasional small trees.
Sugar palms rule the skyline giving the impression of a frieze.
The patchwork pattern of the rice fields appears brown and stark,
Contrasting with the rainy season when brilliant green makes its mark
I stop to view some lotus flowers, elegant and pink,
Growing in a large, dark pond with water lilies, I think.
Around the edge some healthy pigs wallow in the mud,
And two cows quietly eye me up, while they chew their cud.
Through a little village with houses on long poles,
Walls made of coconut flax with glassless window holes.
There are colourful little gardens with sunflowers standing tall;
House and Garden writers, could even be tempted to call.
It's early morning clothes washing at the village well,
Women and children gather for this morning ritual.
In a nearby little open shack, with a blue plastic chair,
The barber wields his scissors while cutting a little boy’s hair.
I skirt around the mean-looking dogs and the three boys on one bike,
The ice cream seller playing “Auld Lang Syne” and a child with a plastic-bag kite.
A basket seller blocks my path while he negotiates a sale.
I have all the time in the world, so wait for a gap in the trail.
Time to stop for some sugar cane juice, with a touch of lemon and ice
Or sometimes it can be coconut juice, or a pink watermelon slice.
"Hello, hello", some children call, or "What is your name?"
Laughing at the ‘barang’ on a bike, is entertainment and a game.
Further on there are roads to choose and there is nothing I know in sight.
The river road seems to have no end so I’ll punt on the one to the right.
Then it’s past an ornate pagoda which seems large and out of place,
In this remote and empty countryside, where life is a dawdling pace.
The next village is full of noise with two weddings underway.
The amplified music seems loud and harsh for this early part of the day.
The events may last for up to three days with continuous music too.
My sensitive ears tell me that I'm glad I'm just passing through.
Two hours have swiftly passed and I’m now on the homeward sweep.
The perspiration, dust and sunblock must be several layers deep.
Looking forward to a mango juice drink and a muffin with sugar on top.
A reward for the dirty cyclist, when I finally come to a stop.