I’m not sure how many of you are following this blog, as I have very few comments. Comments are welcome! Those of you who have commented seemed to like my cycle video. Encouraged by this, I am going to give you one or two more little video extracts over the next week. I’m taking a longer view of the work situation and don’t feel it’s quite the right time yet to provide reflection and comment there. I still have a lot to learn. So for the moment it is little bits and pieces of daily life.
From my house it is around 3 mins walk to the road that encircles the ‘Hun Sen’ park, which is in three different sections: one runs up towards the Independence Monument; a second, at right angles and across a road, runs up towards the Royal Palace; a third continues on towards the river, across another bisecting road. It takes around 3 minutes to get there and then around 30 mins to cross the road. OK.. an exaggeration, but it would take 30mins if you were not willing to take some risks as you navigate your way in and around the moving traffic, always trying to work out if you are safer standing still in the middle of the road, or walking in front of a car/motorbike/tuktuk in the expectation that they will slow down a little. So far it has, although I have had one or two close shaves, especially in the dark, but I am posting up a couple of short video extracts to show traffic at both ends of the park as it gets dark.. the traffic gets much worse after dark as many motorbikes do not use lights (does it use up a little extra fuel??). These were taken on Tuesday evening when the city feels a bit quieter than it did at the weekend – quite a lot of people seem to have taken the holiday early and left already.
Video 1 shows the road that bisects the park. Just as I got the camera out to take this, a motorbike was knocked over in the melee, as you can perhaps see. He seemed to recover OK (!!). Notice bikes and cars taking opposite sides of the road – the quickest route to their next turning.
The road that bisects the park!
Video 2 show the roundabout round the Independence Monument. It’s a crazy place. Note the sneaky car in the near view who decides to go round the roundabout the wrong way as he wants to do a 350 turn to come back down the other side of the park, but can’t be gassed going round the roundabout the whole way. As a cyclist, you try to get a car on your outside and then let it push its way through the traffic, with you on the other side of it, using it as a kind of shield. This plan can break down if the car accelerates away too fast and leaves you exposed to a group of bikes / cars who are accelerating now that the car that was protecting you is out the way. The whole thing seems to work as long as people go slow. It cannot work with boy racer type speeds. Unfortunately I suspect that there will be more and more of that sort of driving and there are bound to be more accidents as a result.
Independence Monument Roundabout
Why do I want to cross the road? Well, if you can attain the park side of the road, you can then walk – on a decent pavement, with no motorised vehicles / parked cars / lorries / cyclos / bikes on the pavement forcing you into the road and no further roads to cross. And people do that of an evening… again not so many this evening. Some walk round and round (I did four circuits in about 40 mins at a leisurely pace), some run, some do various forms of stretching, lots of young men play football and as it gets dark, the ‘dancing waters’ around the Vietnam war memorial are the setting for young and old line dancers to do their stuff… I will try to get some film of this although it tends to be dark by the time they start up. Since it’s a good 12 minutes for me to get to the river (where, as I mentioned before, you can walk without having to bother about traffic etc for a good kilometre or so), the park offers a closer location for exercise.. or as they call it hear ‘haat praan’, literally ‘practise body’. There have been no ill effects on my knee from this gentle walking so I’m dead chuffed! Who knows I may even step up the pace!