Grandmas, adolescents on motos common in Cambodia

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Older women driving a motorcycle or scooter — generically a “moto” — is a familiar sight in Cambodia.  This presumed family is in the thick of homeward-bound traffic, but “mom” and child wear no helmet as required by a much-ignored law.  Crossing the intersection behind them is a vendor with his wares.

In much of Southeast Asia, the streets are clotted with motos — motorcycles or scooters. Since they cost less than cars, the vehicles are the least expensive way to upgrade from traveling by foot or bicycle. They also are a major contributor to air pollution.

Because the two-wheelers are everywhere, foreigners quickly take their presence for granted and many expats adopt them for transportation.

You see drivers of every kind fearlessly navigating congested streets and, for the most part, skillfully dodging each other, bicyclists, pushcarts and SUVs. They speed (in relative terms) around obstacles, occasionally bump into each other and generally shrug at minor collisions. During the work day, traffic usually goes no faster than 20 miles per hour (33 km), but there are plenty of close calls.

Still, seeing a grandmotherly or prepubescent driver on a moto, a kid without helmet perched in front of a parent or as many six individuals squished together (several of them toddlers or younger) on a single vehicle can be hard to take for granted.  Below, some photographic evidence of the phenomenon.

 

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When school let out, this boy, who says he’s 13, heads home on two wheels. It’s clearly not a bicycle.

 

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Lunch purchased for others, this boy is about to leave street vendor (right, unseen).

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And this one, who is not playing on the moto, sped away after posing for me.

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An obviously pleased expat from Down Under posed for me when leaving a movie theater after 9 p.m.

Email: malcolmncarter@gmail.com

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