Cycling along Mekong river and how it turned into a mental battle!
Its still surprising for me, how depending on my state of mind, I see the same things so differently. If I am tired and uncomfortable, I can get angry at simplest things. But if I am experiencing pleasant things, the same things bring a smile to my face. One of the cycling trip I did in Kratie(in Cambodia), reminded me,this side of the truth quite intensely.
Kratie city is a small town in the north-east Cambodia, on the bank of Mekong river. One of the activities you can do here is to cycle along the roads on the east and west bank of Mekong river. To cross to the other side of Mekong river, you need to take a boat ferry. Depending on which ferry you take you can do a round trip of 44 Km and more.
Because of my bad assumption making skills and over confidence, I decided to do 80 Km round trip with this cycle.
It all went okay in the beginning. I cycled hard in the hot sun, took less breaks than I wanted, had a fast lunch. Some snaps, I still managed to take on the way.
I crossed the river from Sambour to the other shore called, Yeav. By 2:00 pm I was on the other side. Then the first surprise hit me. There was no tar road on the west bank of the river. There were a lot of small villages and everyone was so surprised to see me. Adults with open mouths and Children running around saying Hello.. Hello.. The mud road, was in very good condition and I was going really fast, for a cycle. I was very happy and told myself, this is nice. After the hard and boring ride on the east bank this is what I wanted. The kids saying Hello made me happy, and I also shouted back Hello.
But slowly things began to change. I was getting a bit tired, sweating a lot. After 15-20 Km of riding the road started to change. There was lot of water on the road, more inhabitants in the area(which made the road even worse). Sometimes it looked like a roller coaster. Sometimes I felt I was cycling slower than how I would walk. The bumpy road made my ass hurt. The fun part of the ride was dying out fast, and the demons inside me were waking up complaining.
And the clock was ticking. I need to go 25 Km or more on this road, and get another ferry to the other side of the river, where my guesthouse is. And the last ferry was around 5.30 pm(It used to get dark around 5.50 pm those days). Rather than enjoying the ride, questions started to fill my mind. How long would this shitty road last? Where would I sleep if I miss the ferry? How much extra I would have to pay to the boat man if I had to cross by myself? Would someone give me a place here to sleep for a night? How much should I pay in that case? Cant these kids give me a break and stop saying Hello? I cant concentrate enough on the road with all these people Hello-ing at me.
I had to take deep breaths so many times to let go of the ill feelings in my mind. But then they came back again. It was a cycle of letting go and coming back. I thought of taking a ferry much before the intended destination to end this suffering. But a part of me was saying, this is an opportunity. How many times would you feel so frustrated, so hopeless, so pushed to the end.
So I decided to push myself and finish the trip as planned. All I had to do was being mindful of my state of mind. This was hard though. I was so angry at some points that I was hitting the bicycle handle and screaming. But then there are houses everywhere, so I couldn’t scream too loud. Even at the moment, I found this situation a bit funny. The village kids who made me smile before, was getting into my nerves now!
In the end, I made it to the port around 5.40 pm. The last ferry hasn’t left yet. What a relief!!! The ferry came after 10 minutes, I crossed the river with my cycle and 2 dozen other people, rode to the guest house with a final burst of power left in my body.
What did I learn from all this? I am not sure. I cannot make conclusions and say, I should have done this or done that. Any choice could go wrong or right. What else can I do, than being mindful and centered when it goes wrong?