Job Training Project




Adventure in
Kampong Cham
1 September 2009


The Roads

The trip by motorcycle from Kampong Cham town to Kroach Chhmar takes about one and a half hours normally.  Today it took four hours because of the terrible condition of the roads after three days of heavy rains.

Just a few minutes past the edge of Kampong Cham town, while we were still on paved road, one of the three motorcycle taxis we hired decided he'd better fill up with gasoline for this trip (a wise move, it turned out). Gasoline outside the towns is sold on the roadside in two-liter softdrink bottles. The gasoline itself is mostly smuggled in from Vietnam.  Under the blue tarp is a wringer-type device for squeezing juice from sugar cane for natural soft drinks. Stopping for gas
Within a mile or two, the pavement ended and we started struggling with the mud.  I had been worried about the drivers going too fast in the rain and high winds when we were on the pavement as the storm blew through, but their speed dropped dramatically when we got to the mud. The first mud we encountered
While the drivers struggled to stay upright on their motorcycles and continue moving in a straight line, this little boy in his birthday suit took advantage of the slippery mud and rivulets of water to make the most of his play time. Little boy in the mud
Finally the heavy rains stopped but by then in some places the road was fairly well covered by pools of water.  They presented their own danger because the drivers would swerve to avoid them--not knowing how deep the holes and ruts were--when we suddenly came upon standing water.  And sudden swerving is not a good thing on slick mud. Water on the road
In some clusters of houses along the way, we would encounter other riders with similar problems.  The motorcycle on the right is carrying a pig trussed up in a wicker basket on the back of the bike, and the bike wheels are sunk six inches deep in the mud. Multiple riders in trouble
Early on, when the going got too dangerous--or just impossible--the passengers would slide off the bikes and let the drivers try to negotiate a path through the mud.  Here Sokly walks the edge of the road--getting some traction from the grass--while his driver and mine plow the middle of the road. No traction for motorcycles
In the really muddy sections, the favored posture is for both driver and passenger to keep both legs extended for when the bike suddenly slides one direction or the other and then starts to tip over.  I had already abandoned my bike when Sokly and his driver came up from behind.  In the background, the man on the bridge saw our plight and turned around rather than follow us into the deep mud. Mud in all directions
Here Sokly and his driver start a sideways slide and catch themselves with their feet extended to stay upright.  Two of the bikes had more knobby tires and seemed to have better traction than mine, but none of the bikes survived the trip totally upright. Sliding sideways in the mud

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