The Girl Travels

A log of my recent adventures in Vietnam, Cambodia, Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala

Thursday, June 29, 2006

If I Tell My Mom I'm Going to Ride This Train, She Will Lock Me in a Tower Until I'm 40

In case you missed this on my other blog... my boss told me the other day about a "Bamboo Train" in Cambodia. For some reason this mode of transportation was being discussed on NPR, and she found it so fascinating that she sent me this link. She also wanted to warn me, lest I think that a ride on the Bamboo Train is a good idea: "Sometimes, people die."

The Bamboo Train, for those of you too lazy to follow the link, is about 200 miles of track that was laid down before the time of the Khmer Rouge, while France was still in charge. Although at one point the train "cars" were dismantled, some enterprising Cambodians used old axles from military vehicles, cut and sized them to fit the tracks, layered a wood and bamboo platform over the axles, and attached a portable, one-horsepower gasoline engine, linking it to the axles by a rubber strip.

Tell me this thing doesn't sound like death on wheels. And it is: according to the article,

Nothing is actually attached to anything else, like with a nut or bolt, but simply piled onto the tracks like an erector set.... the entire thing is held together by balance and gravity. This allows for easy assembly and break down. Yet it also leads to the occasional fatality when the entire thing falls apart going 30 miles an hour... in the middle of the jungle.

And why do these "trains" need to be easily broken down and reassembled?

Since so many of these trains share the same track, when they meet, the one with the smallest load must yield to the larger one. This is done by everyone simply getting off the train, lifting it off the tracks until the larger one passes, then setting it back onto the tracks and proceeding on one’s merry way.

While the Bamboo Train will carry passengers from place to place, it also carries livestock, fowl, and in some cases, motorbikes.

A ride to your death will cost about $2 US, or a chicken. Apparently, according to the article, a pig could get you unlimited rides for a month. I suppose that's the Cambodian version of an unlimited Metrocard.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The most thrilling post ever

So... I was discussing my blog with some friends, and they suggested that since it was a travel blog, and might be used as a resource, that I should include a list of what I am bringing with me.

Like I said, thrilling.

I'm taking Singapore Airlines, and they restrict you to one carry-on weighing 15 pounds or less (which sounds like a lot to everyone except me). Since I will be on more than one plane, I'm not checking any luggage. Changing planes + overseas travel = lost luggage.

Clothes - 3 tank tops, 5 t-shirts, 3 pairs of capris/bermudas, 1 pair long pants, 1 long skirt, 1 gauzy long sleeve shirt, bathing suit, PJs, underwear, etc.

Shoes - flip flops, Teva sandals

Toiletries - too embarassingly extensive to list individually, but... moisturizer, toothbrush/paste, contact lens stuff, nail care, hair care, skin care, razor/shave gel, Blistex, minimal makeup

Accessories: camera, extra memory cards, iPod, umbrella, money belt (I'm a dork! But I'm a smart dork), flashlight, bug spray, sunblock, towel, sunglasses, hand sanitizer, small roll of toilet paper, sleep sheet, daypack, journal/pen, book, earplugs, eyemask, lock, sewing kit, ziplock bags (so handy), and, of course, my passport, visas, insurance, ID, and copies of all of those things

First Aid: bandages, moleskin, hydrocortizone cream, Calamine lotion, Neosporin, Sudafed, Advil, Immodium AD, Pepto Bismol, Abreva (medicine's great miracle), my BCP, and my Epi-Pen. I also have prescriptions for an antibiotic, Diflucan, and Malarone (anti-malarial).

Before I even started packing, I checked with my doctor and the CDC Travel site (link is on the left) to see what vaccinations were necessary before I left. For these areas, Hepatitis A, Malaria, Dengue Fever, and Typhoid are issues. The only way you can protect yourself against Dengue Fever is by repelling mosquitos. There is a vaccine for Typhoid, but it is only considered 75% effective. It's all about the DEET.