The Man on the Bike

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August 4th 2008
Published: August 4th 2008
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I know, two blogs in one day, but as I went to pay the rain started falling so fast that I could barely see the street I am supposed to cross, let alone all the critters the rain will surely bring to it's surface.

I want to tell you all about the man on the bike. It's been well over a week we left Cambodia, but still our experiences there are talked about daily. I think mostly because Cambodia was unexpected and took us by storm. Not because there was a tremendous amount to do there, because other than Angkor Wat, there is nothing but poverty and rice paddies. The people won us over and everything else has really not been close to it's expectations.

Picture it, Kampot, Cambodia, about two weeks ago. We were on our way down our first attempt to climb into the depths of the jungle. The bike ride home was surely going to bring us all down to our knees, begging for cold water and cold showers. First we go up a hill, then down, then slowly back up. There were three men on bikes we kept passing, but one stuck out. He was bringing back wood from the jungle, a common job in the village. The wood weighed about 20-40 pounds each and he had three pieces. They were atached to the right side of his bike, tied to his handle bar and the pole of his seat. The wood stretched out about 4 feet in front of the bike and 3 feet behind it. The wood blocked his right foot from peddling so he rested it on top of the wood, pedaling with just his left foot with no shoes on. Up and down these hills, for miles, with one foot, in the mid day heat. I remember him so clearly, mostly because he passed us a few times (I know, sad, but we stopped for water). I would like to have found out his name and heard his story. I can't imagine doing that everyday, maybe even several times a day, just to feed my family. Kids in our country have so many hopes and dreams and I wonder if the kids in Cambodia have dreams too and what they are, and when do they find out that almost all of them are dreams they will never reach just because of the place of their birth.

Rain hasn't let up yet, one of the downsides to traveling during the wet season, but there are still a few uneaten MMs remaining in the room, a little appetiser before dinner.

Kristin Van Gogh (I'm still feeling pretty creative)

PS Rumor has it I'll be teaching third grade at the Brooks next year. I know, hard to believe Thai people are talking about school placements in the MPS, but what can I say. I have not heard anything official so it may be complete rubbish.


4th August 2008

3rd grade
Hi. Just saying hello - I´m back in civilization! 3rd grade eh? Got any other rumors? Glad we´re all having fun. See you soon, mike
4th August 2008

As your sitting there remembering the man who could only pedal with one foot I am sitting here thinking maybe you could have got me a bike lesson for free? Still miss you lots. Nicole, Alyssa and I are heading to Coldplay tonight. We'll have a drink in your honor. Wish you could be here with us but your on a much bigger, better and BADDER journey then we are. Be safe and hurry home (2 weeks to go and I am counting down!!!)
4th August 2008

You go girl!! Get ready for a Mr. Jack Fargo if you'll be teaching third grade! I want him to have the luck of the Kristin Howell experience, because anyone would be very fortunate to have you as their teacher. :) Miss you, Camille
5th August 2008

Hey Kristin, I've been away for a couple of days so it was nice to come back and hear the stories of your trip. Sounds like your having a great time. Miss ya can't wait to see you and talk about your stories in person.
5th August 2008

I see your love of eating absolute junk food has not been lost on this trip! Good, that means this trip has not completely changed you!! :) Miss and love you!!
5th August 2008

Hello Kristin Van Gogh...I was wondering if any of you have thought of coming home sooner??? Just a question. Have any of you eaten any real food?? There has to be alot of weight loss there...make sure you all leave your nets in South East Asia Just a curious Mom...Love
6th August 2008

Don't think it worked...
I sent you a private message but I don't know if it worked...among other things, I said that I would be up for a photography, painting and/or piano/guitar class. I will look into some options. Sounds like we might be able to get a good group to attend!
6th August 2008

Hello! Yes, I got your message. I KNEW you'd be up for classes. I just knew it. Always looking for something new. Miss you tons. Can't wait ot hang out again. 6 weeks IS too long....3-4 next summer.
6th August 2008

Oh, you kill me. In fact, we were all admiring how LARGE our bellies have gotten. We were def losing weight in Cambodia, but now that we are back in Bangkok, eating out three times a day, well, you can only imagine. My bug net needs ot come home, sorry. I'll leave it outside though.
6th August 2008

Hey Katie! Hope you have been enjoying your summer. Get ready ofr some walks, because we'll have plenty to talk about. AND do your classroom now...I'll need help moving mine.
6th August 2008

What? A Fargo in my grasp? I LOVE it, but be warned, I already have a strong thing going with you Fargos so I may end up Kristin Fargo when all is said and done. You've been warned.
6th August 2008

I was listening ot my iPoa yesterday at 10AM my time, so 11PM your time. Coldplay was on. It kinda made me said b/c I knew I'd be with you and Nik and Alyssa. I want to see them. I really want to go to more concerts when I get home. Oh, and you need to get the Feist CD. I think you'd really enjoy it. Love you!
6th August 2008

Mike A
Amazon hasn't eaten you up yet? Yup, 3rd grade for me...possibly right underneath you. The 3rd and 5th science curr is similar, so you haven't gotten rid of me just yet. I'm a 4th floor resident at heart.
6th August 2008

Hello...Kristin...why does that net have to come home with you?? Are you lending it to someone??Don't think that back-pack is coming in the house either. Are you planning more trips with the net as a bed???...Dear Lord Kris...haven't you girls had enough....Please stay somewhere where the toilet isn't in the ground>>>Love Mom
7th August 2008

It is amazing. If you had your students write down their hopes and dreams you will find a few who say things like healthy family, nice house, ets. And then there are the masses that will simply list off playstation games and the like. That is why you had to go on this trip. Now you can REALLY explain to them what it is all about. Not a one of them has ever worked a single day in their life. And in Medford, hunger and poverty don't exist in quite the same vain as in the rest of the world. We have homeless shelters and food pantries and welfare. Our poor live better than most people in Vietnam, Indonesia, and Cambodia. Crazy... and people at home sit in their comfy houses in AC afraid of the third world having no REAL understanding of any of it. Pompous once again, but would you argue now that you've seen it first hand? I wonder if Americans are afraid for their personal safety (nice job George W., you convinced most of them) or afraid of seeing how bad other people really have it. Leaves you feeling guilty when you do. ...

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