Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Using mechanical power to the max . . .

Sarita and I spent one day in Cambodia. We ran off the ship as soon as we could when it docked in Sihanoukville. We wanted to get up to Phnom Penh. The 150-mile trip took about four hours each way.

On the way, I was fascinated by the ingenuity--or was it desperation?--of the Cambodian people. It was extremely difficult to get decent photos of the various modes of transportation. We were absolutely "flying" compared to the speed of the (primarily motorcycle-driven) vehicles I was trying to capture. But I got enough for you to get some idea.

Imagine if people here in the United States put their vehicles to even half of the same stress that these vehicles experience in Cambodia every day!

For standard commuting or public transportation:

I think this one took the cake for number passengers. One motorcycle and--what? At least 22 passengers in the trailer, not to mention the driver of the motorcycle. And it appears they are waiting for at least one more to hop on!
For regular, everyday, household transportation:

Younger sister, Daddy, older sister, Mommy, . . . and don't forget Baby in Mommy's lap!

Not sure what the canes are--sugar cane? Bamboo?
For commercial enterprise of all kinds:

I think he's ready to outfit a concert somewhere. . . .

Motorcycles, obviously, do yeomen's work. But so do vans.

Some appear as if they are regular commercial vehicles, but, after a while, it seemed to me that most of them must be some form of "extreme taxi" for the locals. Plenty of hard goods hanging out the back, but packed with people on the inside. Sometimes.

I saw this guy and, based on what I had seen before, I realized it was possible the van was filled with people. But . . .

Nope. He was filled up with these bags of who-knows what!

I wish I had taken some shots of vans that had lost their rear hatches and had them patched on again. Those poor hinges took a lot of abuse!
Finally, I was astonished by this use of a motorcycle.

We were flying down the road and saw these guys obviously dragging something and stirring up a dust storm! What was it? . . . Oh! we figured it out as we flew by. And I got a better shot a few minutes later with another motorcycle dragging a similar burden. . . .

Two strips of wood, maybe 25-feet long. What are they for? Will there be any wood left after they have traveled down the highway dragging them in the dirt and on the pavement going 25 or 30 miles per hour?
But the creative use of vehicles--especially motorcycles without trailers--continued in Vietnam.

For people transportation, of course:
Home from school?

I took this picture on Saturday, January 22. It must have been determined an auspicious day for weddings, because we saw probably seven wedding celebrations in progress. Considering the fine dresses the women are wearing, I wonder if this family was headed to a wedding?

But also for commercial purposes.

On the outskirts of Saigon.

Positive social interaction.

Just don't speed up too much so the wind whips me off the back end!

How much do 22 cases of Heinecken beer weigh?

Saturday evening, we found ourselves on a ferry crossing the Mekong River. A bunch of entrepreneurs were bringing loads of fruit and vegetables back over to the city from the country where we had been. And again, I wondered: How many hundreds of pounds were these motorcycles carrying?

And then, among all the other commercial uses for motorcycles, I thought I would put together a short series that has to do with the transportation of food.

Heading toward their final resting place on a cold, cold, wet day!

And then, finally, two thematic series.
1. Trees on motorcyles.

First, just for fun: We saw this guy wheeling down the streets in Ha Long (northern Vietnam), carrying a sizable tree with small pink buds on it:

But his cargo was unique. Far more common were . . .

Oh. A bit of background, first.

New Years in Vietnam and China is like Christmas in the West. And though we were in Saigon almost three weeks before the New Year celebration was to begin, we could already see signs of its coming.

I mean, what would Christmas be without a Christmas tree? And what better way to bring home the Christmas tree but on the back of your motorcycle?

Well . . . It might be nice not to make the "little woman" hold it!

Or maybe not.

I think this guy has a slightly . . . more . . . ummmm . . . "civilized" answer!

Here, a guy is obviously bringing home a New Year's/"Christmas" present.
And, for a Grand Finale, . . . ummm . . . shall we call it, "Stupid behavior on a motorcycle"?

--This young woman wasn't the only one I saw doing this. She was merely the only one I was close enough to and riding beside long enough to capture on camera.
No! She's not really texting while riding her motorcycle, is she?!?

Oh! Apparently she is!

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