From Cambodia to Japan

A Cambodian Student Looks at Life in Two Different Worlds

The Earthquake

10 per cent of the world's earthquakes take place in Japan alone. It is the world's most earthquake prone country. The recent major quake was the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, in which 6,433 people, mainly in Kobe, lost their lives. Judging from this fact, I have reasons to be afraid of such natural disaster when coming to study in Japan.

Indeed, at the very first week of my arrival , I did spend time contemplating how I would immediately take cover under the table once the building started shaking, how I would run as fast as possible to the emergerncy exit before the building collapsed, and how I would open the window and jump down directly from my third floor in case too many people flocked to the emergency door consequently blocking my exit.

But months and years passed by, there had been no such major earthquake, not even a little one in the area -where I’ve been living- that I could notice. Of course, several minor quakes did occur whilst I was sleeping, so I wouldn’t be able to notice at all.

I had almost forgotten that there are earthquakes in Japan, untill September last year.

I was visiting my friend who lived on the fifth of the 14 floor building. There were three people in the room: me and another two friends of mine.It was around 10 at night. We were watching TV and chatting over various topics when suddently the TV started shaking;books started falling from the shelf;the table , the teacups and everything on it started rocking as though they were moved by the magic power of the martial art masters that you can see in Hong Kong wuxia films, or martial arts fantasies; or as though it was the act of God expressing his outrage against some people who had committed serious sins. I then could feel the whole building was swaying violently back and forth.

I had never been in an earthquake before. The firth thought that struck me was: “Ghost! We are haunted by some evil sprits!” For a few seconds, I found myself stunned, unable to speak.

- “What are you waiting for? Let’s get the hell out of here!” one of my friends who had experienced the quake yelled out with a trembling voice.

- “What?” saidI ( still had no idea what the hell was happening).

- “ Earthquake! Don’t you know it’s earthquake!”

And we three began to panic .

“Run! Run out now?” asked another friend.

Basically, during an earthquake, if we are indoors, we are advised to stay indoors and take cover under a table, bench or desk and hold on, or go to an interior wall or hallway, and expect fire alarm and sprinkler systems to activate.

We then decided to stay in the room and wait till it stopped shaking. Sadly enough, there was only one table, and my friend had put some stuff under it. No other free space enabled us to take cover except for a tiny cupboard where we could hardly put our heads in, let alone our whole bodies. Nevertheless, one of my friends was trying to dive his head inside it, and thus leaving the rest of his body out.

-“What are you doing” I asked him in a bit amusement( still frightened,though).

-“I’m taking cover”, he said, “Head is important, I gotta protect my head.”

For that moment, the fire alarm started sending warning sound.

The building, however, wouldn’t stop oscillating, so we decided to run downstairs through the emergency exit. I didn’t even have to wear my shoes. Either shoes on or no shoes on was no longer necessary at this very moment; but life is. We made it so fast that we probably had never done before. There were already people on the ground; some with their pajamas on, looking just as pale and terffified as us.

The shaking lasted almost one minute.

As far as time is concerned, one minute isn’t that long. But one minute with the quake was long enough to scare the hell out of me, made me realize how great is the fear of death and injury human instinctively has, and how the Japanese people have to endure such frightening moment several times in their lives.

2 Responses to “The Earthquake”

  1. # Blogger dara

    Well done A Oun. This article remind of that moment panic A Dara was hahahaha  

  2. # Blogger leakenak

    Lucky me! I have never experienced this event seen i ve been here nearly a year! But i dont want it to happen at all ...i dont want this experience in life sos leuy ...ha..ha..  

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