Jesse Pesta has a wonderful, colorful piece in the Wall Street Journal about a form of transportation unique to Cambodia: bamboo trains, known locally as "norry." Snip:
In Cambodia, real trains are almost as rare as bamboo trains anywhere else. The impoverished country has a network of tracks left over from French colonial days, but there are hardly any actual trains running anymore. Only one line is in service. The railway never recovered from the horrors of Khmer Rouge murder and war decades ago.
Don't miss his great photos and videos accompanying the article online A six-year-old girl photographed just before her first norry ride is told by her mom that it would be like riding "a bat."
At long last, here's video of the Cambodian bamboo railroad I wrote about in 2006; this being a homebrew railroad running at 40km/h off an electric motor, along decrepit and degenerating rails that only see one scheduled train per week. It's a pretty amazing ride.
Marilyn sez, "University of Guelph student Christopher Charles worked on a project with scientists in Cambodia three summers ago. They were trying to persuade women in poor villages to put chunks of iron in their cooking pots in order to lower the risk of anemia, but the women weren't interested. Then Charles hit upon the idea of fashioning the iron into the shape of a local fish the villagers considered lucky."
It was an enticing challenge in a country where iron deficiency is so rampant, 60 per cent of women face premature labour, hemorrhaging during childbirth and poor brain development among their babies...
The people they worked with — “the poorest of the poor” — can’t afford red meat or pricey iron pills, and the women won’t switch to iron cooking pots because they find them heavy and costly. Yet a small chunk of iron could release life-saving iron into the water and food. But what shape would the women be willing to place in their cooking pots?
“We knew some random piece of ugly metal wouldn’t work . . . so we had to come up with an attractive idea,” he said. “It became a challenge in social marketing.”
Canadian’s lucky iron fish saves lives in Cambodia (Thanks, Marilyn!)
(Image: Kenneth Ingram)