Having been in Cambodia for a few weeks it was even more evident how critical the motorbike is to families and society. This was particularly the case in Bunlung – the large town in the North East of the country where I was based, with lower wages and significant distances between nearby villages and towns.
To reiterate a point I made previously, this is partly practical; motorbikes are just so much cheaper than cars, and the Cambodian people appear particularly ingenious at developing ways of carrying different equipment and supplies on such small machines.
The other observation is just how much children use them. Each morning, as well as seeing young students wandering to school on foot you are also likely to also some kids zipping down the road and parking up at school. Perhaps though that’s not surprising – on the main street in town the bicycle shop sits directly adjacent to the motorbike shop; so it’s pretty clear to kids what the progression for them is.
The other observation that stands out is just how keen Cambodian people are to keep these vehicles clean. This seems somewhat ironic given how dusty this part of the world is, with bikes quickly getting dirty straight after their regular cleaning.
I had in fact heard it was a rule that vehicles had to be regularly cleaned and so this perhaps explains their devotion to this cause. The surprising thing though was that this appeared to also be true out in the remote villages where any traffic rules were unlikely to be upheld; a number of times we saw local villagers cleaning their motorbikes right in the middle of the river next to other bathers and people washing clothes.