Kampong Cham, a city in the East part of Cambodia, by Mekong’s bank, has two main bridges to cross the river. Besides, it has a little bamboo one way bridge which connects the city with an island where there are some villages and several rice fields. It is surrounded by sand beaches and it is very nice.
During the rainy season you can only access the island by boat but, in the dry season, when Mekong’s flow goes down, you can reach the island crossing the bamboo bridge.
When looking at the bridge from the side, you can see a lot of crossing bamboo sticks which form a beautiful framework. It is awesome to me that is is handmade every year, as this is the way it is rebuilt year after year.
I love crossing the bridge with my bike. The irregular ground moves under my wheels, it oscillates and adapts according to the vehicles which are passing by at each moment, going over it gives you a great sense of adventure. I’ve been on it at all hours: morning, afternoon, evening and night. I am crazy about it. At night it is lightened with small lamps and it is cute. I have even crossed it under a storm; the bamboo gets wet and the smell of wet canes is such a pleasant feeling.
The bridge has a framework made of bamboo sticks and a carpet of several layers of canes cut in halves extends over it, absorbing the impact of the vehicles.
At the beginning, going through the bridge next to a car is pretty scary, because the floor bends with the weight of the car, but, after a couple of times, you relax once you realize the bridge is strong enough.
As it is a one way bridge, there is a person in each side controlling the traffic with walkie-talkies; they let the cars pass from each shore acting as a traffic light.
They usually repair the bridge in the low heat hours. The workers cut the canes using stones and replace the damaged ones so the path is always perfect.
On Khmer New Year there was a formidable traffic jam, all full of cars and motorbikes. When I got to the island, I saw the floor was covered with lots of flip-flops the bikers had lost on the way. That day, the workers who are in charge of the maintenance were superbusy.
Another day, I realized the structure is detail-thought and it is prepared for the fishing ships to pass under the bridge.
I like everything from this bridge: the bamboo, the fact that it is made every year, the care to keep it in good conditions,… Maybe in twenty years it has been substituted by a permanent one, but I wish they keep this traditional bridge as well.
(At the end of the signed video there are some images of the bamboo bridge).