Josh j Smith

May 28, 2008, 3:33 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

“Its like doing a dance,” said my friend Dave referring to the traffic habits of Cambodia.  At first I was completely taken back by the mass confusion of hundreds a mopeds criss-crossing in front, behind, and next to our van traveling along the road.  It is shocking at first because I am used to american ways of driving, get there as fast as I can at the expense of everyone else.  


There is a fundamental difference here. Every driver trusts the other person.  When I was sixteen my dad taught to drive defensively because it wasn’t me that he did not trust, it was the other drivers.  In cambodia you can pull out in the middle of traffic, switch lanes, and even cross a buys street and trust that people will go around or stop.  


It really is like doing a dance.  I dont know much about dancing, which is enough to know that when I try to dance with Gina, my wife, there more discension than harmony because I don’t know enough to decide whether to swoop when she dips, step when she stops, or slide when she hops.  


That being said, if someone, like myself, came in and saw that the raffic was horrible because it was not organized, they would bring more harm than good trying to structure something that is already organically structured.  Grant it, you cannot go 70 mph, but I have not seen a car accident yet, and there are far more vehicles and “disorganization” than american road systems.  


While I am on the subject of organic growth.  I have seen it in other forms of Cambodian culture besides the traffic.  One of the coolest things I saw today was the Olympic stadium.  It was left open for everyone to come play sports, walk, and do aerobics.  They had a pool, track, soccer fields (in the parking lot), etc.  As we made our way through the parking lot we noticed the intensity and talent of the games to lessen in the direction we walked.  The more talented players seemed to have the bigger areas to play, and lesser the smaller areas.  There was no tournament administrator, no scoreboards, no chalked lines, and no cooperate sponsoring – which means no money.  


In addition, to the soccer.  Around the sop of the stadium, as the sun would settle, people would come and set up big speakers and play music.  Within minutes there would be someone leading an aerobics workout session.  Again no companies, no sign-ups, no fees – no money.  Several of these little aerobic classes would set up around the entire stadium. There are hundreds of people exercising together to different types of music, and different styles of exercise.  It was beautiful.  


Cambodia is developing very fast.  On the surface this seems good.  But my friend John Song who has been ministering here for a couple years, says that rich companies and people are buying property developing it and selling it to make a quick buck and leave.  Most of the tie it is foreign investors.  The problem is that the investors motivation is not the people and the Cambodian economy, it is their own wealth.  So while Pnom Pehn seems to be developing well, a huge gap between the rich and poor is emerging.



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Josh, it sounds like you are learning much in Cambodia about the culture and the people there. Bring back some stories from people in their own words. Not Cambodian words though, I only understand English. You know us Americans . . .

Comment by Bill

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