The ride from Kep to Phnom Penh yesterday was, well….scary! Two lane country highway with no traffic laws, merely traffic suggestions. Industrial trucks share the road with cars, motos (by far the majority vehicle – a small motorcycle) and simple bicycles (next in line to motos.) The motos and bicycles are ridden by multiple people, many carrying whole families, some carrying large loads of produce or wares for sale. Children were riding on these highways on any which side of the road going any which direction. No helmets, of course, on bikes twice their size. Mothers rode motos with a baby in front and in back of them, completely unrattled by the noise, traffic and danger than surrounded them. In every way, this was definitely a road MORE travelled.
We zipped from one lane to another, often facing traffic coming directly at us. About 3/4 through the 3 hour trek, I noticed that both Mark and I hadn’t relaxed our arms the entire way, ready to brace ourselves for a hit, with one arm ready to shoot out in front of one another for protection. Every once in a while we would look at each other and silently mouth the words, “oh. my. gosh!” as we experienced the sewing machine pedal and erratic pattern of our driver.
No one was more surprised than we were when we arrived at our hotel safely.
But just when I thought I had seen the worst in road etiquette….
We went to dinner with Janay. 🙂
She had arranged for her friend , Phall (Paul), to pick us all up at our hotel in his tuk tuk – a moto with a covered cart attached to the back. We all climbed in the back (a more primitive version of Cinderella’s carriage) and headed out to get a taste of true khmer cuisine.
I was glad that I had so much wonderful information about Phall. I was glad that Janay told us of all the wonderful ways that he has looked out for her and provided her with help and transportation since she’s been here. I was glad that she trusted him with her life.
I was glad because we about to have to trust him with ours.
If I’d remembered to take my phone, I would have captured what one could only envision in a movie or confusing dream. Cars, bikes, walkers, motos, tuk tuks all over the road in random movement. Coming within tiny inches of collision, all coming into the intersections at one time. At this point, I was not at all surprised that Janay had come across a hit and run fatal moto accident on her way home one day a few weeks back. How could that NOT happen???
And yet, in all the seeming chaos, there was some kind of rhythm that worked. Through the honking and unsurpassed defensive driving, these sweet and beautiful people have developed a system that proves to be somehow both efficient and effective.
The fact that Janay has acclimated so well to these traffic conditions just boggles my mind.
And yet it really shouldn’t…
Because as we enjoyed our delicious beyond words meal and walked the surrounding streets and visited local shops, it was sheer joy to see Janay talk with these people. To see her smile so lovingly as they exchanged information and conversation. She walks these streets with confidence, and when men approached her to offer rides, she graciously declined, explaining that we already had a ride reserved for us (Phall).
She loves these people, this place. And it’s not hard to see why. They are gracious in a way I’ve never experienced, They are friendly and generous and thoughtful. A stark contrast to the reason that Janay is here. A lightness that tries to cover the underlying darkness that exists.
In these next few days we will get the slightest glimpse, the briefest experience of the pain, suffering and sin of the underworld of an industry much too prevalent.
Something so much more scary than the traffic in the streets.
Pray that we have eyes to see, ears to hear and hearts to come back changed by all of this.
Pray that God will continue to supply wisdom, strength and encouragement for Janay and all of her friends and others who are giving their lives here every day.
Thanks to those of you who support Janay in either finances or prayer. You would be very pleased with all that God is doing in her life and in her world here. Your encouragement is treasured, by her, by us and by the heart of God Himself. Thank you.
(Hopefully, video footage of road travels will be available in the next couple of days :-))