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.