Job Training Project




Adventure in
Kampong Cham
1 September 2009


The Roads (Part 2)

When we finally reached the home of Huoy it was so late that we only stayed about fifteen minutes and then started the return trip to Kampong Cham town. One worry was getting to the ferry across the Mekong River before it stopped running at dusk. The return trip was a little faster because we had made some wrong turns on the way to Huoy's. The bad part, though, was that a lot of the return trip was in darkness when the same mud was even more treacherous.

We only saw two four-wheeled vehicles on the roads we were on during the whole trip.  One of them was this car which in the picture is stuck in the mud near a cluster of houses. Car stuck in the mud
The only good thing about sections of the road where the forest was right up to the edge of the road was that there was grass that was easier to walk on.  It didn't help the motorcycles, though.  By this time I had completely stopped worrying about the amount of mud on my shoes and clothes and was just trying to keep my shoes on--if I stopped, the mud would suck them off. The roads get worse
In some places, the local people had thrown brush and bamboo cuttings into the muddy ruts but it didn't provide much help. Mud everywhere
Occasionally we encountered a section of road like this one that looked much better but in fact was just as bad.  Even without pools of water or deep ruts, the mud was treacherous and on flatter sections like this, it was like walking on an icy pond. Looks better but drives about the same
By this point we were walking almost as much as we were riding and motorcycle drivers were starting to grumble that the agreed price for the trip wasn't enough.  At the end of the day we did give them half again what we had negotiated before we started. They had asked first for 40,000 riel ($10), we agreed on 30,000, and we ended up paying them 45,000 riel. When all else fails...
Here there was so much mud and no clear possible path through it that one of the drivers headed off through the banana trees and jungle undergrowth figuring it couldn't be any worse and would at least be firm ground. Off the road and into the woods
Just a nasty stretch of road!  My motorcycle went down on its side four times on this trip.  Because we were usually going very slowly, three times I was able to jump off quickly and stay upright on my feet.  Only the last time did I hit the mud and the bike fall on top of me. Get a horse!
Four feet (horse hooves, that is) and two wheels on a cart is much better than four human feet and two motorcycle wheels for stability.  Situations like this were probably the origin of the 19th-century gibe: "Get a horse!" Get a horse!
It wasn't just the motorcycles that had a bad way through the mud.  This local man doesn't seem too pleased with it either judging from the scowl he gave us as we inched past him, slipping and sliding. Walking is just as bad
There is little dusk in the tropics where we live.  It goes from daylight to night quickly when the sun goes down, and we rode the last two to three hours in the darkness.  That made the muddy roads REALLY exciting!  Finally we got to the paved road again after crossing the Mekong but we were still constrained because one of the motorcycles had no lights.  My driver rode behind and to the side of this one so that Sokly's driver had some visibility from our headlight showing the way for both bikes. Traveling at night with no headlight

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