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Posted on Jun 24, 2012

Terrifying Motorcycle Accident- That Time We Flew Through The Air

Terrifying Motorcycle Accident- That Time We Flew Through The Air


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It looks really quaint and peaceful (when you’re not laying there in the street) 🙂

Oh God. Today, I was all easy, breezy. Having a great time. Thinking how lucky and blessed we are, as I ride my bike to the market with my precious baby, Solai, on the back of my bike. I’m thinking about how I’d love to record my Pollyanna thoughts here, in the middle of fuckin Ecuador (I keep this in so you’ll see… I meant Cambodia) , and I’m so into that loving, fairy dust, magical frequency that I enter a very, very intersection without stopping. (And I’ve never done that before in my life! – not on foot, on in car, and surely, not on a bike, with my daughter who depends on my judgement to keep her safe, on my back.)

I gave the busy street where the Pub Street meets three others streets with constant traffic here in Siem Reap, Cambodia a quick left, right glance and breezed into the intersection. I remember thinking three thoughts: how fun it is to have a bike for transportation in the middle of Cambodia, how I wish Solai wouldn’t swing her head so fast from side to side cuz it takes me off balance, and how strangely easy it was to cross this really busy intersection with buses, scooters, motorcycles, bikes, and people whizzing past it. “Lookie, how cool, ” I thought, “I just breezed through it like that!”

And then boom. Kobi, Dahnya, and Orazi later said they had heard this huge whack and swung around to see Solai and I splattered on the street. Military man came out of nowhere (I was clueless to it all, of course) and smashed into the front of the bike so fast, so hard. Solai and I flew through the air. My first conscious thought was hysterically, ‘Where is Solai? Is she ok? Where is Solai!”

Kobi ran into the street to pick her up and get her out of the busy street. I sat there, dazed, wondering where all the things in my basket were. Thinking how someone at the scene of the accident could walk off with my camera. I was surrounded with smiling, concerned, really caring Cambodian men. They all stood there in the street around me, trying to help me get up. But I didn’t want to. It hurt too badly to move.

But, I realized, I’m in the middle of a busy street. A truck can come by and run you over, Get up. So they helped me in the side of the street. Kobi’s holding Solai. Random, concerned men have picked up and are holding the contents of my basket: my books, my hat, my camera, my sunglasses. I guess it kept me grounded cuz I kept yelling at Kobi to find my stuff, watch the camera…Kobi leaves Solai at the curbside with her shell-shocked siblings and comes back to help me up. The bike and I are still in the middle of a very busy street while traffic whizzes around us.

So, I’m hustled over to the side of the road by Kobi and my new 20 best Cambodian friends. Kobi’s concerned, scared, nervous; so are my Cambodian friends. But, they look softer about it (it’s not their wife, it’s some dumb, ditsy tourist who skipped into a busy intersection, right?) Military man who hit us appears before me, bowing, smiling in apology. He’s mai-ing (that bow) three, four, five times; I mai back, “It’s ok. It’s ok. Akun [‘Thank you’ in Khmer].” He’s gone.

So, I’m shaking, sweating, out of breath, in pain, disoriented, feeling guilty for not keeping my youngest child safe, and suddenly, nauseous. Kobi keeps asking me what I need. “Just hold Solai [because I’m barely holding myself here]. Just hold Solai. I’m ok.” Kobi’s standing up, holding Solai; Dahnya and Orazi are standing there, staring; I’m slumping down on the sidewalk.

My 20 best Cambodian friends (who are still standing around sheepishly bowing, smiling) whip out two plastic chairs for us to sit on, and (and this was genius) tiger balm. Tiger balm is the cure-all, magical, you hurt/stung/aching/sick and I’ll fix it fix all. They begin to rub all of Solai’s cuts and scraps, and then hand the little jar over to me. I in automatic mode and do what I understand I’m being told to do. I rub tiger balm on all my throbbing scraps. Within minutes, they hurt no more. Now, just my ass and back are throbbing and I’m more out of breath and feeling more guilty by the second. “Damn it Gabi, you could have killed your daughter!”

My sweet Dahnya is embarrassed by all the attention, all the people staring. She keeps asking if we can go. Kobi turns to give me some lovin. The second my head touches his wide shoulder, I begin to sob. “No, stop,” I tell myself, “The kids need you to be strong. You will not break down here and now.” I pull away from Kobi and wipe my tears.

So, we sit there until we don’t. We walk around town (slowly) looking for a place to eat. We are quiet until we realize that we’d might as well have fun with the whole, God-damn thing.

So, between telling the kids how badly my ass hurts with every step, I start telling jokes. “Who wants to cross the street with mommy? She’s good at that!” or “Kobi I found the guaranteed way to cruise intersections without harm, I think I should patent it!” or, my favorite, “Only those involved in a traffic accident today get to order anything they want from the menu AND get dessert!”

So, we’re safe, alive, shaken up, still feeling guilty, and appreciative. I vlogged again about half an hour later some more thoughts and insights, once I was more grounded. That’s here.

VIDEO TWO HERE but my internet connection right now in Siem Reap is too damn slow… I’ll just post it when I get lucky with really good connection. (hold on, and subscribe to this blog to get it in your inbox).

And just this morning, Dahnya wrote a story for her Hebrew studies about how the mom dies and “all’s well that ends well.” Thank God the angels spread their wings over us today. Thank God.

Even had one of those moments where you acted irresponsibility and really, really endangered those you love the most? Ever felt guilt for not protecting those you were supposed to? Ever danced with the devil in the pale moon light? Ever been hit by some other moving vehicle and didn’t know which way was up?

You know I’d love to hear from you. This is where we connect, share, grow, exchange grueling details, sympathize, criticize, reflect, love, and learn together. Reach out and extend your hand to me. I promise I’ll reach right back. I’ll always reply to twitter, facebook. the blog posts right to your inbox, our youtube channel.


  1. Oh god! I was worried how that was going to turn out!! Glad you made jokes in the end! Our whole 3 months in Asia were irresponsible! Riding in the back of cars, no seatbelts, Cambodian busses on the wrong side of the road, smuggling timber from Laos on our overnight bus and just crossing the road in Vietnam!! Don’t sweat it!

    • God, so it’s not just me that Child Protective Services would take my children away by now? good to know, good to know. I’m still nauseous and every joint and muscle aches but doing better every day. oh, and my ass is still so on fire…. you know best tracey, if you don’t make jokes about, what’s the point of living, right? i love you. gabi

  2. Gabi, first of all I’m happy you are all ok and hope you are on your bilke again.
    We had similar experience recentlly and I’m sure that sometimes when we are (the adults) forgot ourself for critical seconds, GOD or it’s angels take control and looking after us and our kids.
    It’s a terrible and majical feeling at once. And I understand your feeling.
    After it happened we talked about it and teach our kids that they need to use their own judgment and not follow their parents like blind , because we also doing mistakes, and we told them that we were stupid…

    • hey, sefi. yeah, we’re ok. my body is still making it very very very clear to me that it did not enjoy being thrown through the air like that, but hey, i’m lucky, we’re lucky. you are so right on so many levels sefi. i have goosebumps when i tell you: 1- forgetting yourself for that critical second can change your life forever (damn it!) and sometimes we really do 2- i have no doubt that the angels were with us, especially over solai who was up and dancing that same day. we’ve seen them before in our lives in moments when it did not make sense that someone was not killed, but we were safe. 3- it is exactly as you say, ‘terrible and magical’ at the same time. and both so powerfullly. and 4- our kids need to know that we make mistakes and that they need to make their own judgements, not just blindly follow us. but, several times, we’ve exercised poor judgement (usually in crossing crazy busy streets in countries where hitting pedestrians wins you points) and we’ve told the kids, “walk!” or “run!” and it’s hard to tell them not to listen to us, when we can barely fulfill the task without getting run over. just thinking aloud sefi. thank you for always discussing with me. gabi

      • I totally agree with you, I didn’t meant that they should not listen to us.especially when we are telling them what to do.
        In our case it was the case where we didn’t say anything and our younger just follow the adults in from of him and the adults behind him where too far to stop him from crossing main main road with his bike. Offcourse we had to wait for him before he arrive to the intersection and make sure that he will stop… a second after he cross, the road was full with cars from both direction riding on 80km/h at least.I beleive that if we were not there he was stopping, but BECAUSE we were there he just follow… Anyway, as I said GOD was there for him and nothing happened.
        Take time to rest, the world will wait for you…

        • hey sefi. thank you. god, i can see what you’ve described. i can see it. it’s not always clear for me when they should use their own judgement and when they should follow ours. as we see here, mom didn’t make the best call here. anyhow, i’ve work a bit more on my guilt here. i know it’s all ok, but i’m still upset that i put her in danger….. thanks sefi!

          • Can I just give you a hug 🙂

          • i’d like that. (wipe tear). I’d like that very much. (actually, I feel it). thanks sefi!

  3. Wow, that’s really scary Gabi! I have never been hit by a moving vehicle and let’s try to keep it that way..but I can imagine the horror you feel, especially when your child is involved. Glad to know you’re safe, but I guess it will take a while to recover also mentally. Take it easy, I know you are in Houston right now. Take it easy..big hug!

    • hey emiel. thank you for being there, again and again. i had never been hit by a moving vehicle either. well, i was twice but both were a long time ago and the second one was pretty minor. anyhow, it’s the shock that hurts a lot. you are just riding along, whistling, and then boom! everything is slapped out of you: your sense, your body, your balance, your understanding of what is up and down, your sense of confidence gets shaken up. next few times i came to ‘the spot’ i feel a bit woosy. we are safe. and are in siem reap cambodia. we clearly need to play more geography you and i. i, for one, have no idea where you are today. tell me emiel…..

      • Hey Gabi,
        Sorry I was confused by the recent post of Amy, who wrote about meeting you and your family in Houston. But now I realize that was in between South-America and Asia. I thought you might have returned to Houston because of the accident. But I’m glad you are still in Cambodia. I do follow you (and others) around, but sometimes I’m surprised by yet another destination lol.
        Good to hear you are doing find after that shake up. We are still at home in the Netherlands, preparing for our trip to India and Thailand in July and August! This weekend we will be visiting the city of Münster in Germany (after Berlin our second city trip to Germany this month).
        So here I am, home based for now in the Netherlands, following all you awesome traveling families, but on the road very soon (for 6 weeks though).

        • emiel. you are precious and are traveling exactly how you are meant to. you ARE following so many of us your stories are all crooked. i met tracey, not amy in houston for our two weeks between peru and thailand… and now, we are in cambodia. it’s ok, i dont remember where anyone is, even those who don’t move around… good for you for trying. yesterday, i was able to lift my leg even higher in trying to do my thigh exercises. and the stairs outside our room, did not hurt this morning for the first time. no aches in bed anymore and i can lean down to get things off the floor. yeeeehaw. how i value my dearest body as she struggles so passionately to return me to my ideal form. enjoyyour trip. i’m sorry that we’ll be near each other and won’t be able to meet. that sucks!

  4. wow – that was terrifying to read about and watch. I. Can’t. Imagine! So sorry… but thrilled you’re ALIVE! You really need to dodge those motorcycles – The world needs you, you know. xo 🙂

    • seriously scary. so scary. god, how life can change in just a second. thank god it was a motorcycle and not the buses or trucks that frequent that road. or….. anyhow. we’re safe and butt is getting a little better every day..

  5. too cool and loooooved reading it. clearly, i need a counterpost to allay the lies you spewith from your foul mouth. like i don’t have enough of saving the world to do. on my ‘to do’ number 2438. thanks. i love you.


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