20 July 2012

Tales of Traffic

One of the pleasures of being back in Australia is driving a car.

In Cambodia, I ride a moto, rain or shine, that's just how I get about (unless I happen to walk, or very occasionally I take a tuk-tuk). Now since I'm rarely going any great distance, and with the number of cars, vans, trucks, and buses in Cambodia increasing at a very rapid rate, my moto is actually a pretty efficient way to get around. $2 fuel will get me through most weeks and sometimes even a fortnight. If it's raining, well, I just pull out my rain poncho and go anyway (occasionally I'll delay a journey if time isn't an issue and there's a high likelihood of the rain passing fairly quickly). On a hot day, it can be rather pleasant to go for a ride, since moto riding has a way of creating a cooling breeze. Cold weather - well, what's that. There were a few mornings a year or so ago when I was grateful for a light jacket on my morning trip across town but that's about it.

Now I'm back in Australia temporarily, and it's very definitely winter here. Take tomorrow for example: the forecast is for a minimum of 5 degrees Celsius, and a maximum of 17 degrees. Riding a motorbike in that sort of weather would be really chilling experience. I'm very grateful for access to a car while I'm here.

The other big difference between my Cambodian travel and my Australian travel is the distances. Today I covered about 500km. I went from Coffs Harbour, New South Wales to Toowoomba, Queensland via Brisbane. Alas, I needed fuel and got lost trying to find a service station when I got off the motorway. Never mind, I eventually found one before I ran out, and got back on the highway.

Now I'm not sure how the population of the greater Brisbane area compares with Phnom Penh, but there are plenty of cars. Sadly some had an accident this afternoon, and I didn't find out until it was too late to take an alternative route, so I was caught in a very orderly traffic jam. Why do I say it was very orderly? Well there were no motos driving down between the cars and on both sides of the cars, to start with. Not only that, the cars/trucks/buses all stayed in the correct number of lanes of traffic (2). Yes, there are definitely some things I like about Australian traffic.

Eventually we passed the scene of the accident, and here was another difference. There was no crowd of people hanging around. The fire brigade and police were there. The fire brigade seemed to be keeping things safe, and the police were doing their best to keep the traffic moving around the scene. I suspect the ambulance had already come and gone, and that there were other police trying to piece together what had actually happened before they cleared the scene and opened the road up to traffic again.

Once past the accident, the rest of the journey was pretty uneventful, and I thank God for a safe journey on a sunny day. Oh, that's right. The sunset was awesome! Couldn't stop to take a photo but it was beautiful, although the hour before it set was painful as I was pretty much travelling directly into it! Oh well, life's like that.

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