Road safety in most of Asia is not of much concern. Seat belts are rare, if traffic laws exist the adherence to them is non existent. It is something which, when travelling the region, we have little control over and try not to worry too much about.
During a recent bus trip between Sihanoukville and Koh Kong, as we trundled through the dusty countryside we heard an almighty bang. We were sitting at the back of the bus, a girl around four rows from us shot into the air screaming. The driver slammed on his breaks and the bus began to fill with thick black smoke. The people at the front of the bus began to exit, we covered our mouths and tried to open the windows. After what seemed like forever we made our way through the acrid smog to the front of the bus. As we passed the back left wheel arch we noticed the floor inside the bus had a huge crack through it.
When we got off the bus it became clear there had been a tyre blow out. The force of the tyre blowing had cracked through the floor of the bus and the smoke was actually a thick dust cloud from inside the tyre. Part of the side of the bus had been blown clean off and had to be retrieved from a few hundred yards back.
We watched in awe as the bald tyre was removed and replaced by an equally bald looking spare. On closer inspection it was clear most of the tyres were in a similar state. The general consensus is that tyre maintenance is not really observed, by the speed in which they changed the tyre it was clear the bus crew had done it many times. They simply drive until a tyre blows and then deal with the consequences.
When the spare was safely on, we got back on the bus. The poor girl who had been sitting on the wheel arch continued the rest of the journey on a broken seat and the rest of us hoped and prayed that the crack in the floor held together until we reached our destination.