A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Cambodian Arrival

The line for visas is like a factory conveyor belt. I fill in a form. Hand over a passport photo. Hand over my passport. It gets passed along a line of 10 very official looking officials. At the end of the counter I hand over $20 and am handed back my passport, visa inserted. Stamp stamp. Easy enough, I’m in.

The lovely Bec Cook, who I’ll stay with while here (a friend of a friend), has arranged for a tuk tuk driver to meet me. I see a bright eyed, smiling man holding up a sign, Ms. Clare Mulvany'. When I meet him it turns out that he was expecting two people, Clare and Mulvany. ‘Two just became one’, I inform him showing him the name on my passport to prove that I am actually Clare and Mulvany all rolled into one. He smiles. Laughs. Runs to get his tuk tuk.

His tuk tuk is spanking new. Black and red glossy leatherette, with silver polls swirling to a black and red canopy. I am reminded of a carousel, and step up into it, imaging plastic horses bobbing up and down with me going around in circles. I ask the driver his name. ‘Mr. Gogo’. Appropriate enough for a tuk tuk driver don’t you think. We go.

The 5km drive immediately reminds me that I am not in a so called ‘developed country’, and as we pass by the life on the streets, past the thriving little restaurants, the sounds of children’s play, the barber shop on the footpath, I’m thinking, ‘so if Ireland is meant to be ‘developed’, does that make this ‘undeveloped’”. I think not.

There is so much energy on the streets, and forms of transport. Scooters and mopeds, myriads, each going in different directions. I’m sitting, thinking, ‘I love the chaos, somehow it feels so much more natural than the highways and concrete of Bangkok’.

Over the next couple of days I start to notice, more and more, what is carried on the scooters. Two people is probably average. But then you see families, kids hanging on. Father, mother, granny, baby, chicken. You see people carrying all sorts of things. A fridge. A computer. A ladder. Cabbages. Packs of noodles. 50 or so chickens strapped around the handlebars and saddle. Eggs, all stacked in trays on the back. Then you see the things which are fixed to the side of the mopeds, like a mobile restaurant. Park and set up a business.

This is a city on the move. Two wheel moves. Phnom Penh. Phenomenal.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Clare,

Photos are amazing! And your story keeps getting more and more interesting! Gradually settling into the new job - its hard work but good fun...Hope all is well and you are safe and enjoying yourself!


8:34 p.m.


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