What do you mean ‘health and safety’?

I saw a very amusing sight today –  en route to a minefied we passed a new road under construction. Well, I say ‘passed’, what actually happened was we drove straight through it. Construction over here is not quite the same as we know it in the UK!


I mean, why close a road to bring in the JCB diggers when you can simply share the road with them! At one point we were literally weaving between one guy moving soil about with a huge digger and a steam roller type machine flattening the road not more than 2 metres in front of us.


A health and safety officer would have a hernia over here – not a hard hat in sight and flip flops the footwear of choice. The guys in the picture above look like they are standing a metre away from the digger – thats because they are!

Another thing making me chuckle was the Cambodian version of cats eyes (try explaining cats eyes to a non english speaking Cambodian – no, no, no not ACTUAL eyes of a cat etc etc).

Anyhow, it appears it is the sole responsibility of one plucky lass to walk down the centre of the highway clutching a bunch of pink plastic tied in little tufts, to mark the centre of the road she then ‘plants’ one of these tufts into the middle of the road as the lorries and other paraphenalia of road vehicles fly past her in both directions.

Well, the rainy season is well and truly upon us out here and as such everyone pretty much doubles their estimated journey time to anywhere! On our way back to Siem Reap we encountered first hand experience of why they do just that!

The traffic ahead of us slowed to a halt and as we pulled up behind the truck ahead of us our driver shouted out the window to ask what was going on. Apparently the road ahead had collapsed in the rain. Basically – because they don’t close the roads when they are fixing them they have to create temporary ‘diversions’ around the part of the road they are working on…all sounds like a good idea, no?

Unfortunately these temporary diversions are probably a little more ‘temporary’ than they should be. This one happened to be over a river (they were building a new bridge) so the diversion was a pile of flattened sand built up over the river.

When it rains out here it REALLY rains, the heavens had opened and had simply washed the temporary ‘sand’ bridge away downstream! So you think the gaffer would stand there and say ‘ok so its rainy season, this might just happen again if we’re not careful’…but oh no, this is Cambodia so we took out places alongside the other drivers and passengers and watched them meticulously rebuild their sand bridge over the now bulging river.

As we got on our way I couldn’t help but wonder just how long it would be before they were stopping traffic, rolling out the sand lorry and rebuilding the bridge again…and again..and again! The rainy season lasts until September…!

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1 Comment

  1. Ruth said,

    June 19, 2008 at 8:26 am

    Hi darl,
    Hooray – I’ve finally worked out how to post a message to you!! Sorry its taken me so long to email – but i just couldnt work out what to do!!!!
    Enjoying hearing about your adventures so much darl – it looks all so amazing… I’m very proud of you!
    Love you loads xxxxx


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