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Around The Sun: Asleep On A Motorcycle

Steve Harrison tells of sleeping on a most uncomfortable "bed''.

The people of Cambodia are among the poorest I have ever encountered. Every night the cyclo guys who ferry folk around town sleep on their cyclos. So too do the motorcycle guys. They have no homes to go to.

I often wondered how they managed to rest their heads on the bike seats, drape their legs over the handlebars, and maintain balance. Hey, don't turn over in your sleep!

They say you have been in Phnom Penh too long if you fall asleep on a motorcycle. Imagine my surprise then when I awoke from a drink-induced sleep to find myself precariously balanced on my motorcycle. Scary!

I blame my predicament on the security guy who looked after the motorcycles parked at the front of our hotel. In the year and a half we operated the hotel, I never learned his name. Whenever I walked out of the front door of the hotel he handed me the keys to a motorcycle, and off I would ride. Every couple of days or so I gave him a dollar bill and we were both happy.

The only problem with the arrangement was I owned a bar. It didnít seem to matter if I walked out in broad daylight or crawled out on all fours in a drunken stupor. He always handed me a motorcycle key. This was good during the day, but not at 2 am when I had been working in the bar.

One day, after one of those nights, the guy asked for his motorcycle back. I had only vague memories of the night before. Rossi and Graham both swore blind that I had turned up at the Heart of Darkness club on the motorcycle. How I got back to our hotel is anybody's guess. The only problem was it was without the bike.

I remember sleeping and imagining that I was falling. I remember putting my hands out to grab hold of something, but there was nothing there. When I opened my eyes I found myself lying on the motorcycle.

I got up, shook myself and went off to find another bar, just to have one for the road. The bike was left in some vacant space in my memory.

And now the bike was missing.

Graham then discovered the keys to the motorcycle in his pocket. He had apparently advised me against driving in the state I was in. Now all we had to do was locate the bike. Rossi had a car so we drove around all the usual drinking spots. The only thing I could remember was that the bike was red. After several hours of circling the city we abandoned hope of ever finding it.

We returned to our hotel so that I could confess to our security guard and recompense him for the loss of his bike. To my surprise he had already found it and all was again well with the world.

I for my part made a vow to resist all temptation to take the bike again when I was in that condition. And I determined never again to sleep on a bike.

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