The locals call it a nori. The French call it a lorry. But, we’ll call it a bamboo train. Around Battambang, Cambodia, these trains are useful, efficient and a blast to ride.
Powered by a 6 HP generator engine and constructed mainly from bamboo, the bamboo train transports villagers, supplies, livestock (our “co-conductor” was holding a chicken)–and now, tourists–from town to town. While sitting only inches above the ground and traveling at speeds up to 25 MPH on a clanky old track makes for a bumpy and loud, yet very exciting way to get around. If you come across another train on the single train track, no worries–just slow down, stop, pick the train up, set it in the ditch and let the other train pass. Simply brilliant! Usually, the train with the most cargo, hence heavier, takes precedence and doesn’t have to move aside. Apparently, we were always the bigger load, and never had to unload ourselves once, as you’ll see in the video below.
Unfortunately, these trains wont last too much longer. Cambodia and the other S.E. Asian countries have been working on reviving and expanding the more typical passenger train network. I say unfortunately because the bamboo train was a lot of fun and really seems to help the villagers move about. However, a train network, like that found in Europe or China, would do S.E. Asia wonders for the locals and tourists alike.
Our arrival to a village some 25 minutes down the track was a treat as we were greeted by smiling kids, one of which got a hold of my camera and rattled off about a hundred pictures–many turned out great. I told him he’ll one day have a career in photography.