Thursday, February 17, 2011

Red Snow

Cambodia has got to be the dustiest country I've ever visited.   The soil around most of the country is a reddish colour and very fine-textured.  Except for major highways, most of the roads are not paved, and when a lot of motos or a vehicle with large tires goes by, the dust flies wildly.  The Cambodians call it 'red snow'. 

This is the road we take to Honour Village every day.
Although it is fairly smooth, it's unpaved, and very dusty.
We ride in an open tuk-tuk

Look out!  Here comes a car!

Cough, cough!

Hack, hack!

Especially during the dry season, when humidity is high and the air is still, these fine red particles seem to just hang in the atmosphere.  The haze, visible in the horizon, produces spectacular sunrises and sunsets, and on clear nights, the moon glows with a pink I have only seen here.   This grit permeates everything, invading every crack and crevice, and combined with the humidity, it forms a rusty film that adheres to vehicles, plant foliage, buildings, even animals, like a thin glaze. 
Red dust on the foliage and pipes next to the road

Red dust on the concrete sewer covers beside the road

Red dust on the bases of a new building that has not yet been painted

Red dust chokes the foliage

I often wonder whether respiratory illnesses are more prevalent here.  Facemasks are commonly worn on motobikes & tuk-tuks - you can buy them at any corner store.  I've known several people who end up with colds or sore throats when they come here.  I've had my share.      

It's quite common to see molded covers for computer keyboards, and most people don't remove the protective factory cover that comes on the screens of cellphones and cameras when you buy them.  I wish there were a way to protect my camera.  I've already had the zoom repaired once, and I suspect I may need a repeat, because it's sticking again.  If my once-white shoes are now permanently a rose-pink, I wonder what the inside of my lungs must look like.

To see a video of Cambodian red snow, take a look at this video

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