Cruising on the Bamboo Train

By |2012-11-09T14:07:14+00:00Nov 9th, 2012|

The Story

Day 5 in Cambodia was fantastic. It all started with a trip to the famous Bamboo Train in a little village outside of downtown Battambang. Rudimentary is a kind word to describe these little speedsters. It starts with the driver placing two axels onto a set of train tracks that are barely visible through the overgrown vegetation. Next, a platform made of bamboo sticks is placed on top of the axels. We board the platform and the driver uses a rope to start the engine. At that point, we are taking off down the track.I estimate that we reached a velocity of about 25 MPH with a top speed of 31 MPH.

There were several small villages that we passed along the way to our destination – one of them even had a lovely ceremony taking place with music blaring. It truly was an excellent experience. All in all, this was just another example that illustrates how resilient and ingenious the Cambodian people are.

In terms of processing

I applied Magic Fores to the entire shot and masked Tonal Contrast onto the driver and bamboo platform. I also masked Deep Forest glow onto the surrounding trees.

Find touches were applied in Lightroom 4.3 RC1

[map w=”745″ h=”185″ lat=”13.02532″ lon=”103.24025″ marker=”yes” z=”17″ maptype=”SATELLITE” 940 /]


I recorded a short video that shows you what riding the bamboo train is like. I hope you enjoy it!


  1. Brian Bonham November 9, 2012 at 2:07 pm - Reply

    I love how they take the train apart when the ride is over.  Sweet shot of the driver dude.

  2. Eric Raeber November 9, 2012 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    Wonderful image +Brian Matiash. THank you for posting the geolocation. It allows "exploring" the surroundings for those of us stuck behind a a desk most of the day ;-)

  3. Daniel Novak November 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    Nice speed effect!

  4. Cynthia Pyun November 9, 2012 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    This feels like a train, a very fast train, +Brian Matiash Love the work you've done on it to give it all this motion!

  5. Redeemed Light November 9, 2012 at 2:36 pm - Reply

    Yes, it is often very hard to caption the motion of a shot, but you did a great job of it!  Makes you feel there!

  6. Amy Heiden November 9, 2012 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Dude, that video was awesome! How freaking fun.

  7. Uttdom Sowinkong November 9, 2012 at 2:57 pm - Reply

    I am cambodian so I know what that's like

  8. Lotus Carroll November 9, 2012 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    I'm just glad you didn't record a video to let us know what eating a giant spider is like. ;)  Great photo, +Brian Matiash!

  9. Jason Rykiss November 9, 2012 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    Looks amazing!! The video made it seem like you were going way faster than 25mph.

  10. Bogdan Szuta November 9, 2012 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    Question, What decides that one train is being taken apart, so the other can pass?  Just wondering. Great picture.

  11. Brian Matiash November 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm - Reply

    +Bogdan Szuta I knew I forgot to include something!

    The way it works is so:

    This is a shared track for both directions. When two opposing cars approach, whichever party has more cars traveling gets right-of-way. If only one car is in each direction, whichever has more passengers has right-of-way. Not sure how it works if there is only one car with one passenger each. :)

  12. Kelly-Shane Fuller November 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm - Reply

    Easy, you make the passengers fight to the death. Then one train has more passengers than the other ;)

  13. Brian Matiash November 9, 2012 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    +Kelly-Shane Fuller That'd be my way of resolving it… :)

  14. kimberton pemberly November 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    whoa whoa whoa…..
    this does not make my vertigo any better….

  15. Brian Matiash November 9, 2012 at 5:09 pm - Reply

    +kimberton pemberly Good. Hoping for that selfie of you puking in your mouth that you promised me months ago. You remember. I know you remember.

  16. kimberton pemberly November 9, 2012 at 5:10 pm - Reply


    it's in the works. 
    i need to work on the  m o i s t u r e  levels.

  17. Brian Matiash November 9, 2012 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    +kimberton pemberly Moist.


  18. Brian Bonham November 9, 2012 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    moist vomit… shudders

  19. Ryc Stine November 9, 2012 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    What a curious photo.

  20. Azam Shah November 9, 2012 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    nice effect

  21. Shelly Gunderson November 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    Neat motion shot!  Interesting train.

  22. Mary Broussard November 9, 2012 at 9:13 pm - Reply


  23. Jamie Zartman November 9, 2012 at 9:41 pm - Reply

    Immediately captures the feeling of the track. Thanks for the ride!

  24. Daniel November 10, 2012 at 12:22 am - Reply

    Great shot, I love the motion blur.

  25. Sébastien Beun November 10, 2012 at 3:27 am - Reply


  26. Michelle November 10, 2012 at 10:28 am - Reply

    That was an insanely cool video. I normally don’t watch stuff like that, but I’m glad I did. Neat to see how they take the “train” off the tracks at the end.

  27. Anastasia Ortiz November 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm - Reply

    omg cool

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