18 photos reveal the extreme ways kids get to school around the world

Chris Weller

In the United States, the site of a yellow bus bouncing down the road is practically synonymous with school.

But in other parts of the world, the trek to school looks much different.

Some kids in the Philippines step through knee-deep rocky waters to get to class, while students in Japan pass Geiger counters tracking local radiation levels.

Here's what early-morning commutes to school look like around the world.

Sigit Pamungkas/Reuters

In the Central Kalimantan province of Indonesia, kids ride their bikes through air thick with smog. Air pollution levels have risen steadily in the country in recent years.

Source: The New York Times
Amr Dalsh/Reuters

In parts of Cairo, Egypt, "school buses" involve kids piling into and hanging off the back of ordinary trucks.

Vivek Prakash/Reuters

In Sri Lanka, some girls must cross wooden planks laid over the walls of a 16th century fort in the coastal town of Galle.

Toru Hanai/Reuters

About 13 miles away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, kids at Omika Elementary School come face to face with Geiger counters ticking off local radiation levels.

Kim Kyung Hoon/Reuters

In earthquake- and tsunami-prone Tokyo, some schools ask parents to give their kids protective headgear in case a natural disaster strikes.

Stringer/Reuters

With all the country's rapid infrastructure growth, kids in China's Henan province often walk through demolition sites to get to school.

Stringer/Reuters

About 600 miles south, kids in the flood-prone towns of Jiangxi Province must rely on parents to make accommodations when roads turn into streams.

Beawiharta Beawiharta/Reuters

Crossing waterways is common in other parts of the world, too. In Indonesia's Banten village, students are sometimes forced to cross bridges even after they've collapsed.

Beawiharta Beawiharta/Reuters

In other parts of the country, the wooden boats that ferry kids across the Musi River sometimes fill up to the extent kids must stand on the roof.

Reuters

Others are more fortunate to have larger boats that can accommodate more children and their bicycles.

Lorgina Minguito/Reuters

And in Kawag village, an area just north of Manila, in the Philippines, some kids must traverse knee-deep water that edges up to rocky beaches.

Erik De Castro/Reuters

Other Philippine children have taken to using homemade rafts, fashioned out of bamboo, to reach the remote Casili Elementary School in Rodriguez, Rizal province.

Antara Foto Agency/Reuters

Sometimes the transportation is especially ingenious, like the seated zip line in the Indonesian town of Kolaka Utara. The seat can hold a maximum of four people.

Danish Ismail/Reuters

In many regions, a lack of infrastructure means kids must get resourceful. Kids in the Indian state of Kashmir rely on a damaged footbridge to cross the stream.

Stringer/Reuters

It takes two hours for kids in the "cliff village" of Liangshan Sichuan province in China to climb the steel ladders and make their way to school. The steel ladders replaced unsafe vines that led to three-hour commutes.

Stringer/Reuters

Equally treacherous are the cliffside walks families take in Guizhou province in order to make their way to Banpo Primary School.

Mohamed Alhwaity/Reuters

Kids in the Saudi Arabian town of Jazan climb concrete stairs built on the side of Fifa Mountain to reach their schoolhouses.