Monday, November 3, 2014

The not so magical flying cow

Years back, on a bus from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville – with the long defunct DH Cambodia – I saw flying cow.

On National Route 4, we were somewhere south of Pich Nil but hadn't yet reached the Koh Kong turnoff. I was sitting toward the back, half dozing, when the bus suddenly lurched, braking hard, very hard, tossing me forward. The bus began fishtailing this way and that, tires squealing, metal straining, the driver was losing control. He released the brake. I fell back into my seat. The path straightened and everything went silent, if only briefly. There was a huge explosive crashing noise, but the bus glided on, barely impeded. I turned to my window just in time to see a cow flying gently past, a dirty white Brahma, only inches away, about 2 meters off the ground, front legs and head pointed forward, superman style, gently rolling left as if executing a banking turn. She looked rather majestic in what appeared to be, for that moment, controlled flight. The bus braked hard again, finally coming to a stop.

I looked forward. The windshield was smashed. The driver opened the door and jumped out, running to collect bits of the bus that had broken off in the impact. A cow lay motionless in the field next to the bus. Two hundred meters away, a saronged old woman was running across the field toward the bus, screaming something and waving her arms. The driver yelled for his partner in the bus to help him gather the bus parts quickly. They hurriedly tossed pieces of panels, bumper and headlamp in through the door. The old woman got closer. The driver scrambled back on the bus and fired it up. He fought to close the door but it wouldn't shut for the damage. He threw it into gear and pulled away, the old woman trailing near the still open door screaming, the bus making equally unpleasant grinding and screeching noises from the front. 

He drove another 5km or so, the passengers in muttering semi-silence, then stopped, now safe from the cow owner. The driver and assistant got out to inspect the damage. They tried reassembling the front end, without success. The driver decided to run away at that point, but the assistant caught him and brought him back. On arrival in Sihanoukville, I saw the driver explaining to the company manager at the station, pleading really. I hopped on a motodup to my hotel, and as I looked back I could see the manager beating the driver over the head with a plastic chair at the side of the street, him now on the ground cowering, motodups and small children pointing, giggling and laughing at the sight.


  1. Haha! Wow, that was a post after ages!

    With due regards to the dead cow, that was quite funny...:) By the way, if this had happened in India, it's entirely possible the driver would have been lynched.