The Phuket News Premier League predictions The Phuket News Kata Rocks The Phuket News Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort
The Phuket News World News
The Phuket News Phuket | Thailand | World | Business | Q&A | Weird World XML, RSS, Feed
The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News

End of the line for Cambodia’s home-grown ‘Bamboo Train’

CAMBODIA: With a wooden platform jerry-rigged to a small engine, Cambodia’s one-of-a-kind “Bamboo Train” delights tourists as it clatters through bucolic countryside – but its days are numbered as the Southeast Asian nation plans a railways overhaul.

culture, transport, tourism, construction,


AFP

Sunday 10 September 2017, 11:00AM


With a wooden platform jerry-rigged to a small engine, Cambodia’s one-of-a-kind ‘Bamboo Train’ delights tourists as it clatters through bucolic countryside. Photo: Tang Chhin Sothy / AFP
With a wooden platform jerry-rigged to a small engine, Cambodia’s one-of-a-kind ‘Bamboo Train’ delights tourists as it clatters through bucolic countryside. Photo: Tang Chhin Sothy / AFP

The bamboo-lined flat trolleys are a testament to Cambodian creativity and enterprise in an impoverished nation with little infrastructure.

They were first invented as part of a home-grown, unofficial transport system to make use of the country’s abandoned colonial-era train tracks but later morphed into a popular tourist attraction.

“It was good to finally have some breeze happening (on) my face,” exclaimed 25-year-old Swedish tourist Josefin Strang, after completing a ride on the rickety cart under a blazing tropical sun.

“I’m actually happy that it was the bamboo train and not an ordinary train, because that track was not in good shape,” she laughed.

But the hallowed site in northwestern Battambang province will soon be no more as a government project to refurbish the country’s dilapidated rail system inches closer.

That is especially worrying news for the community of drivers, ticket-takers and snack vendors who live off the proceeds from the unique attraction that has become a fixture on the tourist circuit.

“We are very worried about how we will make a daily income good enough to feed ourselves,” said 49-year-old Soy Savuth.

He is one of several drivers who spend their days shuttling a trolley up and and down the seven-kilometre track, charging foreigners $5 (B166) a ride.

Built under French colonial rule, Cambodia’s railroads once ran from the southwestern seaport of Sihanoukville, then known as Kompong Som, to the capital and up north to the Thai border.

But decades of civil war and neglect left vast stretches of track in ruins or overgrown with weeds.

With cars a luxury of the rich and roads in similarly bad shape, Cambodians started building their own small bamboo trolleys in the 1980s to ferry people and goods across the countryside.

The earliest versions were hitched onto the rail tracks and simply pushed along by a bamboo pole.

British International School, Phuket

Then they started using small petrol engines that connected to a fan belt that spins one of two axles, propelling the carts along at about 15 km/h.

As Cambodia’s roads improved, locals started moving away from using the bamboo carts – known in Khmer as “norries” – to transport goods.

Tourists filled the demand gap, with savvy operators in Battambang charging backpackers to hitch a ride on a unique piece of Cambodian railway culture.

On a recent Sunday the dusty site was billowing with foreign and local tourists, eager to pile on for the windy trip through rice fields and over small creeks.

But Chan Samleng, director of the Railroad Department, said the Bamboo Train operators will soon need to clear the area so that builders can start restoring the line for a train service.

“They have no right to run on the railroad any more,” he said of the drivers. “They can look for other jobs.”

While Cambodia remains one of Asia’s poorest nations, it is also one of the continent’s fastest growing.

In recent years the government has turned its attention to its railways.

In April 2016, the line from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville was reopened to passenger trains, displacing dozens of bamboo trolley operators.

Previous deadlines to close down Battambang’s Bamboo Train operators have passed without consequence in a country where projects are routinely hampered by delays.

But Soy Savuth and the other drivers are worried that the latest threat is real.

“If there are no rails to drive on, it will be hard to find a job because this is the only skill I have,” he said.

 

 

The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Comment on this story
* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.
Comments Here:
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:
    Forget your password?

Be the first to comment.

The Phuket News
The Phuket News The Phuket News The Phuket News
The Phuket News
Share this
The Phuket News
Have a news tip-off? Click here
The Phuket News
Related stories
The Phuket News
Phuket community

Recent Comments


CIB tackles illegal drone flight threat

Article made me thinking: Why is the Army not patrolling in the Deep South with drones instead with unprotected pick up trucks, ripped apart like sar...(Read More)


Phuket’s Eva Beach appeal earns demolition reprieve, says Rawai Mayor

Editor, can you please explain what this has to do with this story "Looks to me like helicopter parenting here.BTW,studies show that children of ...(Read More)


CIB tackles illegal drone flight threat

Whilst flying a drone over military or airports is important, I wish they'd sort out far more important issues....(Read More)


Pacific corals in 'worrying' state: researchers

It's the climate change. Mother Nature is showing us with more harsh weather ( stronger storms, typhoons, hurricanes, earthquakes) and signals f...(Read More)


Pacific corals in 'worrying' state: researchers

I been there in the early 90.is and seen them,the coral were still pretty much ok from my point of view.It seems nobody really cares and everybody jus...(Read More)


Phuket’s Eva Beach appeal earns demolition reprieve, says Rawai Mayor

Funny how quick someone jumps up like a rabbit out of a magicians hat,if our chief commentator is questioned! Looks to me like helicopter parenting he...(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: The rising tide of progress

Great PN piece of Opinion. Yes, Anyone living many years on Phuket island is not surprised by the floodings, etc. See Patong police station, 2 hours...(Read More)


Phuket taxi drivers charged for assaulting security guard over access to hotel guests

Wow "Might" revoke their licence's, tough talk, well done, the taxi tuk tuk mafia will be shaking in their shoes!...(Read More)


11 held in crackdown on foreign crime

As mentioned in a previous story, the ever good old Nigerians and their scams, most from that continent aren't good people, sad but true....(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: The rising tide of progress

The monkeys can be moved because no one is being paid to look the other way....(Read More)

The Phuket News
Bangkok Hospital Phuket
PHUKET NEWS
Phuket
Thailand
World
Business
Q A
Weird World
ARCHIVE
POLL
CURRENCY
WEATHER
PHUKET TIDE TABLE
The Phuket News PHUKET LIFE
Phuket Arts
Phuket Community
Phuket Culture
Phuket Dining
Phuket Education
Phuket Entertainment
Phuket Environment
Phuket Health
Phuket People
Phuket Technology
Phuket Travel
World Entertainment
Photo Galleries
COLOURING BOOK
The Phuket News PHUKET SPORT
Phuket
Thailand
World
SURF REPORT
PREDICTIONS
The Phuket News PHUKET CLASSIFIEDS
Phuket Buy and Sell
Phuket Jobs
Phuket Property
Phuket Cars and Boats
Phuket Community
Phuket Services
SEARCH CLASSIFIEDS
POST CLASSIFIED
The Phuket News The Phuket News PHUKET EVENTS
Phuket Event listings
Phuket Event calendar
Buy Tickets
POST EVENT
The Phuket News PHUKET DIRECTORY
Phuket Bars, pubs and clubs
Phuket Hotels and villas
Phuket Restaurants
Phuket Yellow Pages
POST LISTING
The Phuket News BARGAINS
The Phuket News ABOUT US
The Company
Distribution points
Subscribe
Advertise with us
Pay for advert
Contact us
CONTESTS
Content Google Map
Site map
Australian Visa Services
 
Currency - The Phuket News   Weather Report - The Phuket News   Surf Report - The Phuket News
LinkedIn - The Phuket News   Twitter - The Phuket News   YouTube - The Phuket News   Facebook - The Phuket News
Copyright © 2017 Class Act Media. All rights reserved. | Website usage terms and conditions | Privacy and Confidentiality Statement.