Bamboo Railway

Richard Whillas

Posted on November 25 2014

Any passerby would swear that we were playing a game of chicken as our norry (ណូរី the Khmer name for the bamboo train we were on) bounced along the narrow gauged tracks at anywhere from 15 to 20km/h toward an oncoming norry - and I wasn't sure they were wrong the first time we saw them coming towards.

Alice, our driver, leaned up and squinted into the distance when she saw the fleck of colour on the track ahead. It wasn't till we were a bit closer that I realised that something was headed toward us and about then that it clicked that there was only one track but the trains went in 2 directions.

The rule is, apparently, that the direction with fewer people/cargo has to make way for the other norry and this time iit was us so we stopped at spot that had room to stack up all the parts of the train. First the engine was unhooked, then the 3m long bamboo base removed and finally, the weighty barbell shaped bogies lifted and tossed to the side (I definitely wouldn't recommend messing with Alice after seeing how easily she did this!). As soon as the train went by our norry was reassembled as quickly as it had come apart and we were back on our way.

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