Stupid Dangers (Tuesday 2/4)

Tuesday.  Because I don’t know how to negotiate with tuk-tuk drivers, and I find the whole thing kind of distasteful, I’ve been walking everywhere I go.

I basically like walking — it’s how I got around town for most of my college life (which ran much longer than 4 years) and for much of my time in Boston, where the buses are so unreliable.

Now as it develops, there are two problems with this:

1.  Nobody walks in Cambodia.  It just isn’t done.  You at least have a bicycle.   So the tuk-tuk and motorbike drivers who are waiting for a fare keep hassling me, and generally I stick out.

2.  It’s not safe.  Not that someone will mug you or you’ll get hit by a motorbike — violent crime is apparently down, and there’s only one collision in the neighborhood every other day.

No, the danger is you won’t be monitoring where you place your feet, you’ll step into a hole and you’ll break your ankle.  And there is no medicine here.  You have to fly to Thailand for a Western doctor.  They have two options for dealing with serious injury in Cambodia:  wait and see, or amputation.

I say this because I lucked out on Sunday.  I was trying to figure out where I was, the pavement dipped strangely, and my ankle twisted under me.  I took all weight off the leg, bending at the knee, and caught my fall on my other foot.  I walked it off — it didn’t feel good, but I didn’t even sprain it.

But, if I’d been a little less quick — if the hole had been a little deeper (and there are plenty that are much deeper) — if I was fat — if I’d been less intelligent in the way I managed the fall — I could have injured myself very badly.

So now I look where I put my feet.

But it isn’t only the physical infastructure that’s like that.  On the way out today there was a downed power line across the road.  The poles here have rats’ nests of power cables on them.  People were driving over this thing, and two women were standing around a man with a flashlight who was peering at the pole like a guy examining a fuse.  The power cable looked patched.  I stepped over it.

Also, every now and then you smell something like you’re walking past an open sewer.  That’s because you are.

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Published in: on August 18, 2009 at 10:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

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