18 October 2009

ridin' that (bamboo) train...

our good friends levi & ellie from canada have been visiting us for the last month or so. its been such a pleasure to host them in different places & stages of life over the past several years & it has been a joy hosting them here in cambodia. [just when we were beginning to feel homesick, home, in the form of people we love, came to us!] they are our first visitors from home & its been wonderful to share our rich [& dusty & hot!] cambodian life with such beautiful friends.

[levi & ellie]

we've taken the opportunity of their visit to have lots of cambodian adventures & i'll begin with our adventure riding the bamboo train...

the train system in cambodia is in quite a deteriorated state & some very clever folks have built contraptions known as "bamboo trains" to haul goods & people along the dilapidated tracks that still exist. these bamboo trains are a marvel to behold, both for their simplicity, their effectiveness and the safety hazards they pose.

to get on this train we helped some 13-year-old put two heavy sets of train wheels connected by their axles on the track and then lifted a wooden frame onto these wheels. across the top of the frame were bamboo slats spaced 5 or 6 inches apart.

now, the best part is the engine. it's a small motor that nestles atop steel rails on top of the platform. its not attached so the engine can slide forward and back. from the engine a single rubber fan belt loosely drops through the bamboo slats and around the axle. once the engine gets started the driver just pushes the whole engine forward, tightening the belt, and moving the train. to slow down just slide the engine backwards. to make the train go the other direction just turn the whole engine around. to stop the train there is a big wooden stick with a piece of rubber nailed to the end that gets jammed between the train wheel and the platform. it seemed crazy but the system worked magnificently. and almost anyone can repair it.

[i loved this little guy's shirt - 'we're loving peaceful time']

[gasin' up]

we found a family with one these contraptions on the outskirts of phnom penh & had a day of adventure riding the [quite rickety] bamboo train & exploring rural cambodia.

[a video of the bamboo train in action]

[cow detour: picture by amie]

[gucci/ray ban knockoffs, $5]

[at the end of the tracks.
wrong way dude]


[view from the tracks]