Oh Lordy, could I be any cheesier?
Here's the story, told some six weeks later. I've polished it up a bit after multiple tellings and retellings. After the aforementioned punch in the gut, I wandered the streets of Phnom Penh. Should I go to Vietnam or Laos? The question pestered me. If limes can be trusted, the answer was Laos. But limes might be fickle and Justin has good aim. Let me back up even further. "Laos or Vietnam?" I asked my friend, the imperturbable Justin. "Let's solve this in the only suitable manner," he replied (or, possibly, I'm fabricating this entire speech). "See those two pots hanging on the wall?" I did. "The left one is Vietnam; the right one is Laos. Whichever pot this lime hits," he picked up a lime from the lime basket on the table, "is the country you'll go to."
"Well, this sounds entirely reasonable," I responded.
"Thump," went the lime as it hit Laos.
Laos it was.
But days later, the question still nipped at me. And so I wandered the streets, unable to make even the most mundane decisions. I needed to flip a coin to decide where to eat lunch. Then, in one moment, everything changed. I walked past The Vicious Cycle, a bicycle shop near the riverside, and I thought (God, it's fucking tempting to add, completely unnecessarily and against all rules of style, "to myself" after those two words), Why not? I don't want to take the bus, but hitchhiking hasn't been working out. Why not cycle?
Once I made the choice, everything fell into place. It seemed the universe was smiling on my decision. For as I walked to the Russian Market the next day, dodging street sellers, refuse, and the near-constant chorus of "Moto madam?" and "Tuk tuk miss?", I passed a hole-in-the-wall bike repair shop with four used mountain bikes for sale. The owner, a former resident of Atlanta, Georgia, quoted me a reasonable price for the shiny white beauty with big front and rear shocks I was eying and he agreed to show me some basic repairs.
The next few days passed quickly, as I ducked around the city in a haphazard manner, collecting the gear I would need for my trip.
I decided I would cycle through northeastern Cambodia before crossing into Vietnam, but beyond that outline, my route was hazy, and I preferred it this way. No sense in making plans that would be changed anyways.
So, four days after purchasing my bicycle, I crossed the Mekong River and rolled out of Phnom Penh.