I knew my luck was slowly running out and that it was just a matter of time before something happens to me in the village. I had imagined something along the lines of my bike running out of air in the middle of nowhere.
Surprisingly, when it finally happened about 10 days ago, it was the best possible scenario. I decided to go for an exercise bike ride on my regular route to the district town. It's relatively easy for me and takes about 30 minutes each way. As I leave my house, I realized it felt really heavy to bike. My legs felt heavy; the bike felt heavy, and even the usual hill seems harder to climb with the bike. At first, I didn’t even think about the possibility that there was anything wrong with my bike. I was biking (and panting) for about 25 minutes already and I was nowhere near the district town yet, when I finally thought to myself “I really can’t be this out of shape. I wonder if there’s something wrong with the bike.” I got off to look, and it seems there was almost no air in my back tire. Just luck would have it, there’s a gas station across the street. I went and asked for help, but the staff said I should cross the street and go 3 stores down to the moto shop. I went to the said moto shop. The guy said something like “There’s a bike shop down the road. You should go there.” I definitely didn’t know why he was saying that so I asked “Well, can you put air in my tire?” and he did it for free! I thanked them and kept on biking and felt how easy it was to bike with a full tire! Of course, that lasted about 2-3 minutes until I started to feel the strain again. That’s when I realized that the moto shop guy was telling me there was a hole in my tire and that’s why I should go to the bike shop. Just luck would have it, when I came to a stop, I was literally right in front of the bike shop. I tried to explain to them in my broken Khmer. They were very nice and helped patched up the hole right away. It took about 30 minutes, which gave us some time for friendly conversations. After they learned that I bike a lot on that street in front of their shop, they invite me to stop by to rest, to chat, or to fix the bike anytime. Starting from that day on, I notice that they’re always on the lookout for me. Whenever I bike pass them, they always wave and so would I! It definitely beats having a flat tire in the middle of nowhere for sure!
Sadly, my second incident wasn’t as fortunate. 5 days ago, I was biking to the health center to meet with my tutor there. As I was about to turn left into the health center, one older lady was coming from the opposite direction and blocking my way into the health center so I paused to wait for her to pass. I had checked behind me already so I decided to turn left into the health center as soon as she passed. Somehow, a moto showed up between me and the lady. At the time, I think the moto slowed down too late. He could either hit me or the old lady, so I think he swerved my way. Thankfully, I was wearing a helmet and my bike was pretty shock absorbent. The old lady was not wearing a helmet, and her bike was rather old so if they had hit her, the outcome could have been worse than mine. The moto hit the front of my wheels before it stopped. With that force, I fell sideways off of my bike. I hit the ground hip first, legs second, shoulder third, and head last. At the time, I was just flustered so when the old lady and the moto guy came and helped me, I told them it’s fine. I picked my bike up and walked into the health center. I was still fine. When I finally got to the reception area and saw my health center’s vaccinator (who is also my counterpart and like my grand uncle), I started crying and told him a moto hit me. Of course, that was definitely an exaggeration but all the pain came rushing in at the time so I thought I broke something. Still in shock, I called Reaksmey (Peace Corp’s Security Office), who advised me to talk to Peace Corps Medical Staff. Fortunately, Dr. Haor called me right away, thanks to Reaksmey. We assessed my situation. My HC’s vaccinator helped explain too. We decided that it wasn’t an emergency so we waited out the night with some pain killers. The next day, my HC’s vaccinator helped drive me to the outskirt of Phnom Penh (for comfort and security), where Dr. Haor met me. We did x-rays that morning right away and found out that it was just a non-displaced fracture on my pelvic bone. The specialist said the pain should fade in a week or two, and I will recover completely in 6 weeks. I recuperated in Phnom Penh for about 4 days, and now, I’m finally back in my village enjoying the weekend. I can't bike yet, squat, or sit for a long period of time... but I'm functioning normally!
All in all, despite the pain, I came out of this second incident quite easily too.
I can’t stop gushing about how efficient Peace Corps Security Staff and Medical Team are or how kind and helpful the Khmer people are. I am so thankful towards everyone who’s helped me in any small or big way during my incidences.