Transportation

Transportation, originally uploaded by coming2cambodia.

While home over break, my parents, my sister (who is now a parent of two herself), and I were talking about how no matter what parents do, children find a way to blame them for something. The consensus seemed to be: do your best and they will blame you for something so take it with stride.

So, here is my complaint: my parents did not prepare me to either ride a motorcycle or sit on the back of one.

Up until now in my life, this has never really presented a huge problem. In Taiwan, although squealing and scared, I did allow Sylvia to drive me around (above photo). After the first part of the trip, I even started to enjoy it too. However, I don’t have the same feeling about the motos here. I trusted Sylvia, she made sure to go slowly and let me squeeze her as much as I needed.

In Taiwan, the drivers were crazy. There were no apparent laws and people were driving everywhere. In Cambodia, the drivers are so much worse. There are no real laws; in fact, to drive a moto, you don’t need a driver’s license. People drive against traffic, on side walks, though red lights, etc. Everyone rides; kids from school (sometimes 5 to a moto), the elderly, families with small children, people with puppies, those in suits, monks, foreigners, everyone.

The motos, also, are the main way to get around town. Well, to be truthful, there are several choices: moto-taxi (bring your own helmet), tuk-tuk (covered carriage sometimes pulled by moto, sometimes by bike), or bike-taxi. Of these, the moto-taxi is by far the most prevalent. Everyday as I walk to work (6 minutes from my hotel), I am assailed by moto drivers every ½ block asking if I need a ride. So far, I have not had to take one. However, this is not going to last.

Furthermore, once I am in Svay Rieng, I need to learn to drive one. The organization is providing our team with 2 motos and 1 car to drive around the province. Sadly, I do not drive stick shift (I really really need to learn), so moto or with a driver are my only options.

Currently, the motos continue to cause a problem because no one walks. I think the head project officer gave me the best advice: slow and steady to cross roads. Although the motos look out for each other and other cars, they seem to be blind to people walking. This is probably due to the fact that 99.9% of the time, I am the only person walking. Not to mention, the lack of rules and the lack of stop signs make crossing roads a little worrying.

Living abroad in South America, I got used to men yelling out to me in the street. The general rule was do no react or they will hassle you more. Moreover, if I could manage not to listen to what they were saying, I was less likely to get angered by the misogyny of it. Here, however, the men calling out are just asking if I want to hire their moto. If I don’t respond, they have a habit of driving up next to me and beeping. It really freaks me out, and is totally unnecessary. I need to re-program myself to constantly shake me head no when people yell out to me.

P.S. Sorry that the photo is from Taiwan, I haven’t taken many pictures yet here in Cambodia. In fact, only three. They are up, but not very good. They are from the road in back of my place.

5 comments

  1. Glad to hear you made it OK. I am back in night school at Wash U. Work is very busy, demanding. Kids are doing great. Winter has returned to the Midwest, snow is expected this weekend. Take care and be safe.

  2. Well Good luck in Cambodia. I am an RPCV from Ukraine and you are so lucky to have Linda Wylie on staff there. Tell her hello for me and enjoy your two years. It is an amazing time that you don’t get to repeat so take advantage of everything and enjoy it. The best advice I got before I left was that when you get to site don’t do anything for six months. Now that doesn’t mean sit around, but don’t feel that you have to start a project day one. Go to tea, visit with neighbors, make tons of connections with your community then after six months you will have more than enough projects to keep you busy and all the friends you need to help make those projects successful.
    Again good luck, and tell Linda Wylie that you are ready to head out to the village and start doing it!
    Andy Hallock

  3. Clare,
    Nothing like going public (international) with your parents’ faults!
    My advice, as I am sure will not surprise you, is always wear a helmet. As you know, that is the only reason I am still here to write this. Maybe you ought to wear one walking too. The young woman who felled me was on foot. Too bad the motos don’t know what a potential danger you lone pedestrians are.
    Although blogs still seem a very public forum, what a great way to keep us up to date on your travels. Keep well. We miss you.
    Dad

  4. Florichs-

    Good to hear that all is well with you! Say hello to the rest of the family for me. Snow, at this point, sounds wonderful!

    Andy-

    Welcome to the blog! I am actually a RPCV from Moldova and my Cambodia is not actually PC. Although, I am really excited that PC is here. Besides Linda, there is other great staff here. I think the volutneers come in Feb.

    Dad-

    Please recognize that you guys not teaching me to ride a motorcycle was really out of the realm of important skills. Hahaa. I thought you would laugh at it. I mean really, I have no other big compaints. Say hi to mom. Glad you are enjoying the bog. It seems to be working well!

  5. Clare,

    I guess an hour in a Towson, MD parking lot grinding gears on my old Prelude was not enough time to learn a stick shift. Enjoy Cambodia
    Kevin

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