Without an H

Photography from south-east Asia by Jon Sanwell

Bamboo bridge, Kompong Cham

The bamboo bridge in Kompong Cham only exists for half the year.  In the wet season it’s destroyed by the rising waters of the Mekong, and then built again from scratch once the rains have stopped in December.  This happens every year.  I’m going to have to go back to Kompong Cham one December, just so that I can see it being built.  The bridge stretches from the town, on the west bank of the Mekong, to the island of Koh Paen in the middle of the river.  It’s completely dwarfed by, and rendered almost ludicrous by, the massive new road bridge that arcs over the river’s entire width.

The strangest thing about the bamboo bridge is that you can hear it from a distance.  The bamboo poles rattle and creak as pedestrians, bicycles, motorbikes, cars and – alarmingly – great big SUVs travel over it.  I chose to cycle over, which was fine so long as I didn’t look left or right, or stop to consider what the hell I was doing.  The sound of the bridge is even louder once you are actually on it of course, and you can also feel it moving underneath your wheels, especially when being overtaken by a great big SUV.  These vehicles are almost as wide as the bridge itself and, as in all countries of the world, are driven by those blissfully unaware of the existence of other people, so you have to be careful as they pass not to topple over into the water, or impale yourself on bamboo.

Cycling over the bamboo bridge is the sort of experience that I might have avoided in the past, due to my esssential wussiness, but I’m very glad I did it.  My only regret is that I made the return journey too soon, and was in the wrong place for sunset.  That picture will have to wait for my next visit, but here are some others to be going on with, starting with some morning silhouettes.

12 Responses to “Bamboo bridge, Kompong Cham”

  1. hellenjc

    Absolutely gorgeous shots.. I particularly like the silhouettes; the subject just really suits them..Great work !

  2. lrntn

    Fantastic images. Plus there’s always something so romantic about rickety bridges . . .and one that exists for only half a year, amazing. I’ll have to make a note of this (and of course your whole blog) for whenever I make it to this part of the world.

  3. Polly

    Another truly amazing slice of life you have encountered! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. David Spadora

    I love that pier/bridge

    so much character. Beautiful captures!


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