this morning we embarked on a journey that we might have had second thoughts about had we known what it actually involved! because of the low river levels in the dry season we had to be driven to a point at the river where we could join the boat, we were told it was a 4 hour journey but it took over 5 hours!
the roads in cambodia have to be seen to be believed, this is the major highway in cambodia and its atrocious, the bitumen sections are filled with huge potholes that look like they are remnants of the bombing in the war, they are about half a metre deep and when they are not deep they are filled with large sharp rocks. much of the road the bitumen is gone and its just gravel with clouds of fine dust – i have no idea how the driver knew where he was going much of the time.
the road is filled with pushbikes, motorbikes pulling enormous trailers, extrordinary machines powered by stationary engines with handlebars about 3 metres long, horses and carts, cows and carts, trucks, buses and cars.
the driver never went over 60kmh, which i suspect was because thats where the speedo got stuck – it certainly seemed much faster!
i was astonished by the enormous sizes of the loads everything carried, small motorbikes were often hooked up to large steel trailers up to 10m in length loaded with what looked like tonnes of timber, minivans with their interior compltely filled with firewood and then two long poles hanging out the back so anther tonne of wood could be staked and tied outside the back of the minivan.
i realised after a while that the reason the loads could be so enormous was that that cambodia is basically absolutely flat, so nothing ever has to go up a hill, or try to control speed going down one!
the boat trip was a welcome relief after the car, there were only 3 other passengers, 3 law students from sydney, these girls were living for 3 months in Phnom Penh. so the six of us enjoyed a slow and leisurely trip down the river, we had a yummy vegetable curry lunch before stopping at a silk weaving village which was actually quite interesting, the village also had a buddhist temple with 2 large prawn statues guarding the gates – and i thought only australia did the big statues of animals we eat thing!
dinner was satays and salad on the top deck of the boat as we slowly motored into Phnom Penh.
click on the ‘i’ in the top left corner to see image descriptions.