A Drive in the Country

24 August 2010

I went for a drive in the country side over the weekend with some Cambodian acquaintances. There were rice fields full of light bright green crops, white, pink and purple lotus flowers, geese ducks, dogs and cows wandering everywhere, including on a national highway. The only animals that seemed always to be on a leash were the water buffalo. The drivers here constantly honk their horns to let motorbike rides bicycle riders and kids on the side of the road know they are here.
The Cambodians stuff vans full to the brim and beyond. One van was so full the back hatch door was up and half a motorbike was poking out. And it had a guy sitting on it. In another van about a meter of flooring material was poking out the open rear door and there was a guy sitting on that.
Unfortunately one dog was standing in the middle of the road staring into space. Our driver honked, it didn’t move and he hit it. I instinctively looked out the right window to see if we’d killed it. It took a few seconds to realise we could still hear yelping, and since we were still moving, the dog must be under the car. We were dragging it along. The driver stopped, reversed, the dog ran out, with a visibly raw patch on its rump,  and ran away. Everybody laughed. I felt quite shocked. I guess in rural Cambodia there’s no point in doing a door knock to find whose dog it is, or offer to pay the vet bill, because there are probably no vets.

Another strange thing about this place: with a population of 14 million, there are 40 – yes – 40 psychiatrists. 30 of them live in the capital, Phnom Penh, which has 2 million people. So the other 12 million have ten psychiatrists between them. This in a county where 10 per cent of the population show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder! It’s a strange place. For more on this read:

http://www1.voanews.com/khmer-english/news/Mental-Health-Crisis-Strains-Cambodia-91069979.html

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One thought on “A Drive in the Country”

  1. Hi ,
    You paint a depressing picure. My Year 8s at school are rading a novel called Parvana at the moment, about life for girls under the Taliban. It is very disturbing, but helps raise the kids’ awareness of how lucky thet are to live where they do, in a country with democratic and religious freedoms.
    You seem to be having a really interesting, if rather disturbing experience in Cambodia.
    Are you keeping well? Are you well in yourself?
    I had a poor set of readings recently, and as a consequence I’m dieting srictly, and exercising, in the hope that that will enable me to retain good health and avoid diabetes – I’m judged to be in the very high risk group! Cholesterol high, large gut, carrying too much weight, not eating properkly and not exercising – a recipe for diabetes. So I’m on a regime to lose 17 kilos – hopefully by the end of this year or soon after.
    I’m enjoying reading your blog posts.
    Fond regards

    Barry C

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