Sunday, February 23, 2014

Trip Advisor(y)

We've been in Cambodia almost 3 months now, and although we've had the occasional close call (or two), we've remained accident-free so far. Whenever possible, we walk to wherever we're going, which you'd think would be the safest mode of travel, yet this is where we've (I've) had the most near disasters.  

When I'm in North America, I seem to have have little trouble putting one foot in front of the other, yet all too often here I find myself suddenly stumbling and lurching forward. To onlookers, I must be a ridiculous sight ...arms and legs flailing gracelessly, desperately fighting gravity in an attempt to right myself before I leave my new dental work embedded permanently in Cambodia's landscape. 

So why am I such a klutz here? Perhaps when I'm at home the routes I walk are fairly routine, and I rarely meet anyone, so there's plenty of time to pay more attention to where I'm going. Here I am surrounded by new sights and sounds at every turn, and often forget to look down. When I'm at home I also wear proper walking shoes, and here I wear flip-flops that often 'flop' when they should be 'flipping'. One thing is for sure..the walkways at home are just plain safer than they are here. See for yourself....

In Siem Reap, walkways are typically tiled....

....or non-existent...

The road  that leads to the main road from our guesthouse
is a dirt road in desperate need of upgrading.
In the meantime, they use rubble to fill in pot-holes.
No problem if you're
 a mountain goat.

Often there are deliberate valleys built into the side of the road
which make walking a challenge....unless you happen to
blessed with one leg significantly longer than the other 

In places where the walkways are tiled,
it's important to watch for uneven areas that jump up and catch
the bottom of your shoe when you're not looking

In places where there are no tiles,
one section of concrete might extend out to be even with the road
while the next one drops off without warning

Sewer access portals are spaced strategically along the walkways,
providing yet more obstacles of varying heights and dimensions.
The covers are made of thick slabs of concrete. We NEVER walk on these,
since there is a very real possibility of accessing the sewer unintentionally.

Many areas of the sidewalk have been
cracked and caved in by cars parking on them.

A perfect example of a walkway dropping off at  an adjacent property

Most times, tiles are embedded in sand.
Occasionally they go missing.
Sometimes it's only one...

...and sometimes it's more than one

Even when tiles are laid over concrete
they somehow go astray

This year a Christmas light display was suspended across the road
on either side of the Siem Reap River for about four weeks.

They removed tiles and embedded sleeves of PVC pipe in the ground
support the poles. Now that the display is gone, the supports remain.
In some cases the PVC pipe sticks up about an inch above ground.

Sometimes there's an extra tile in the pathway.
This one is strategically located near a sewer cover
just to add interest to the obstacle course

Here, in front of a shop, several tiles are unevenly spaced
and placed at various levels, perhaps to ensure that only
serious shoppers will bother to enter.

In many parts of Siem Reap, large trees line the walkways.
Actually they grow up out of the walkways.
Here, a garbage bin is paced strategically next to the tree
to provide an additional obstacle.

Some property owners like the trees so much
they have planted little gardens around them,
necessitating pedestrians to walk in traffic.

Sometimes these trees die, and rather than fill in the tiles,
a gaping hole is left in memory of the tree that once grew there.

The roots of these trees often rise up from the ground in huge carbuncles.
When they are well camouflaged with sand, as these ones,
they provide the perfect impediment to unsuspecting hikers

Here a carbuncle has been enshrined
in the centre of a concrete and tile walkway 

This stretch could probably be named 'Carbuncle Alley'

Sometimes things other than trees
are in the middle of the walkway.
Easiest just to walk under this sign.

This signpost appears to be on a movable concrete block.
I didn't try to move it.

The trunk of a palm tree adds interest

I always wonder what happened to the other shoe...

Cars often park on the sidewalk
Unless you want to walk out in busy traffic,
it is necessary to find a way around them

Same goes for motos..

....and carts..

Perhaps the most ominous of all are wires that snake across the path.
Are they live?

This one, in a city park, looks as though it might lead to something..

This one is partly disguised by leaves, sand & shadows...

This one looks like a snare..
Watch out!!!

Perhaps the scariest thing of all is the big holes that are just 'there'.
This is one of those sewer boxes, which appears to have no lid at all.
Some very nice soul has tried to disguise that with plastic sheeting..

Here another one of those sewer covers has broken away.
I assume the stick with the plastic bag is the equivalent
to a red flag or 'caution' sign.

This hole is in the middle of a walkway
that crosses a narrow bridge.
When we first saw it, it was just a gaping hole.
Then one of our volunteers fell in on a dark night.
Fortunately, she wasn't seriously hurt.
Since then, they've wedged a huge tree limb into the hole.
Now only small children can fall through.

What you've seen here are only a few of the obstacles we encounter on our daily walks. Safely rules and laws just aren't a part of Cambodian life. I suppose they feel if you stumble, fall, or hurt yourself, it's just part of your karma.

Fair warning...If you come to Siem Reap, mind your step.... 
And if you do happen to lose your footing, have a good trip!

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