On our first ride to the grocery store in Cambodia, a group of six of us piled into a tuk-tuk, which is a small covered cart pulled by a motorcycle, used by locals and tourists alike to travel throughout the city. We drove across a bridge, as blackish wastewater meandered by below us, and greeted brown-skinned Cambodian children who called out to us, “Hello! Hello!” We then turned right into a quadruple-laned road, and then pulled a U-turn straight into the traffic going the opposite direction. I cringed in the back of the tuk-tuk, my hands gripping the side of the metal pole and my eyes widening as the dozens of motorcycles in my view got bigger and bigger. Yet, each of them slowed down and yielded to us.
I began to notice that there is something incredibly unique about the traffic system here in Cambodia: there are very few street lights. We’re living in Phnom Penh, the largest city in Cambodia, with over 2 million people, yet even in most double-laned intersections there are no traffic lights. But somehow I haven’t even seen one car accident since I’ve been here.
How does this work? It’s simple. People simply yield to the person in front of them. If you need to do a U-turn, you just do it, even if there is traffic coming straight at you. I can’t help but think if this were to happen in America, there would be an abundance of beeping horns and middle fingers and road rage. But here in Cambodia, you just wait your turn, knowing that you will get there when you get there. Here’s the typical scene during rush hour:
I’m starting to realize that the way that Cambodians drive is reflective of their culture to prefer others above themselves. They are incredibly aware of their surroundings, because who is around you is more important than where you are going. The concept of the right-of-way is unknown to them…so different than America, where we’re engrained to be so time-driven that we need to get to our destination as quickly as possible and to run over anyone who gets in our way.
Jesus is the ultimate example of yielding – He came not to be served, but to serve, and give his life as ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). Jesus’ eyes were continually open to the people around him who he could touch with the Father’s love. And we are called to live the same lifestyle – to yield and serve others rather than to insist in our own way.
So today, I want to encourage you to intentionally open your eyes to people around you. Do what you can to yield, rather than insisting on your own way. And if you get to your destination a few minutes later than expected, thank God for the people that He put in your path, because the journey is much more valuable than the destination.