28 August 2010

Rainy season adventures

After a busy morning, and a productive early afternoon, I headed down to the gym for some extra exercise (I'd been to a garage sale on my bicycle in the morning). The sky was looking heavy as I left home, but I arrived safely before the rain started. I was only about 3 minutes into my workout when the rain started, lightly at first, but then very heavily. It continued to rain heavily for the next 20-30 minutes, and was still raining enough for me to put my raincoat on when I left the gym. The bike started OK, and I headed out onto the roads.

There is a main road that directly links the location of the gym with the suburb I live in, which is also the road that I generally use going to and from school. I know that road floods sometimes, but I headed up it, hoping for the best. Not a good idea! There is an alternative route, which while it is longer, is much higher (it's actually known as the dike road for fairly obvious reasons). I will definitely be taking that route in the future.

At first the road wasn't too bad, and for a while I was able to follow a 4WD up the highest part of the road without too much difficulty. It was very annoying to see several young men riding their fancy motor cycles through the flood waters at dangerous speeds, usually with no helmets on, and definitely with no consideration for anyone who may be affected their actions. They were just out to have fun! I learned a number of rainy seasons ago, that if I have to go through flood water, it's important to put the bike in a low gear (1st or 2nd) and then just keep going at an even pace as far as possible. Stopping should be avoided if possible, especially in deeper water. So I kept tootling along at 5-10km/hr, and was doing OK until I was about 1 km from home. Then the bike started coughing and sputtering. By this stage I'd been driving through water that was up to my ankles with my feet on the pegs. Not all the time, but definitely for several hundred metres. I managed to keep the bike going, just, and eventually made it home (taking the long route once I got to Toul Kork to avoid more water), and I was even mostly dry (apart from my feet & shoes). I'd love to have taken some photos, but I was too busy just trying to get home safely. I did however take some once I'd reached home!

These are some photos of the road I live on. Notice the reflection in the water. This water isn't going anywhere fast. Most driveways on my street are built up quite a bit to prevent the water getting into the houses and yards, but you can see in the top photo on the right hand side, the driveway of the house two doors down from mine. Quite a bit of their yard was flooded.
If you look very carefully at the moto driver in the second photo you will notice something that I see quite often in flooded situations. The moto driver has actually tucked his legs up just in front of the seat. Now when you think that flood water in Phnom Penh is almost always tainted by sewerage maybe it's not such a silly action. I've haven't done it yet, and I don't plan on doing it anytime soon. I'd rather just wash my feet and legs thoroughly when I get home or to where I'm going.

The other challenging part of this afternoon's rain is that I am still, 3 hrs after it stopped, mopping up water that is seeping through the walls into my kitchen! I've got at least 1/3 of a bucket so far, and it doesn't seem to be slowing! At least that is clean water (in fact it is crystal clear in the bucket to a depth of about 3 inches in a 12 inch diameter bucket).

So if you're looking for a watery adventure, try Phnom Penh during the rainy season. Floods can almost certainly be delivered.

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