Crossing Cambodia

Monday, April 18, 2011

Chasing cars, shortly after Khmer New Year

Dare I mention, that this be my last entry? Time to move on. Nearly five years (just a month short) and over 400 entries no less, so if my readers have failed to pick up the essentials of travel and traffic in Cambodia and Phnom Penh in particular ... well, more postings won't help!

To sum up, getting about here is anarchic, lawless and down right reckless. Then again, I haven't had an accident in the nearly 6 years I've been here, so driving around with caution helps. But I also know of many others less fortunate....

Oh well, the news
  • I's have liked to start with a posting on tripadvisor concerning poor services rendered by a local bus company, but tripadvisor have deleted the thread. Huh.
  • It is the time of the year for accidents to be more commonplace. More movement, more alcohol. But even before the festivities started accidents happened. Phnom Penh Post (6 March 2011) reports on a horrific accident near Sihanoukville where a container truck hits a minivan (with 25 persons, hows that possible?). Nineteen deaths. The said accident lead to NGO's
    'expressing concern'.
  • Travelfish have added their own entry on traffic accidents in Cambodia:
    'Getting into a traffic accident anywhere is serious, but in Cambodia it's particularly so .... only to find out that there's generally no enforcement and no punishment ...'.
    Their advice is Get insured, Be prepared, Have all kinds of emergency numbers at hand and wear a helmet.
  • More air traffic. Besides the (re-) launch of Air France flights, Korean Air will deploy bigger aircraft on Cambodia, effectively increasing capacity by 50% to Seoul (Phnom Penh Post, 9 March 2011). There are also
    'feasiblility studies'
    underway for finding out whether or not direct flights can be made to the UK or Turkey (Phnom Penh Post, 23 March 2011).
  • More news on the fight of Hun Sen vs. the trucks:
    '“I’m very concerned about trucks loading containers. It seems that accidents would happen easily and the issues repeated again and again. Therefore, you must be cautious, and you who don’t work on this have to resign from your position,” Hun Sen said. The Ministry of Commerce needs to shut down some transportation companies that continue to violate the law.” Hun Sen also appealed to provincial governors to stop illegal road checkpoints and ensure that roads are repaired and maintained'.
    Wish him luck with that. Also with his appeal to ensure all involved adhere to the traffic law, which has proven to be impossible. Not worth the paper it's printed on.
  • But, presto, a day later 25 trucks were
    Phnom Penh Post, 18 March 2011).
  • A first hand experince with the new Monivong parking fee collectors from Khmer 440. Lots of questions.
  • Cambodian electric vehicles? Possibly, according to Phnom Penh Post (March 22, 2011). A local company in conjunction with
    'local inventor Nhean Phaloek – who once reportedly claimed that the doors to one of his prototype vehicles opened telepathically'
    will seek to produce at least 500 cars on an annual basis.
  • A nice blog entry on Lto Cambodia on road signs in Sihanoukville which actually encourage road users to go up the wrong way of a one way street!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


The government has designated Street 130 as the number 1 street for tourists to walk along between the nearly renovated Central Market and the Mekong Riverside. The four lane road has been made less wide with broad sidewalks and a green central divider. See the picture below.

A good example of the government trying to stimulate (and protect) the most vulnerable of traffic users, pedestrians.
Why on earth no one walks in this city is beyond CC.
But good intentions aren't enough, what happens then is that the wider sidewalk is used for parking of cars and motorcycles, not only by small businesses but also by the phone company Beeline. Thank you.

Street 130, walk if you dare. Extra space intended for public use, used by businesses and through-way clogged up by cars and moto's.

Sihanouk Boulevard: looks nice but is at odds with function. Potentially dangerous?

In spite of that effort it seems the walking street will be the lower part of Sihanouk Boulevard. The past two years has slowly seen the street evolve from small shops selling everything to modern air-co shops selling high-end goods. Naturally these poor citizens can't be expected to walk and certainly not to cross the road.
The amount of detail shown in street 130 is completely devoid on this section where they have replaced the divider of cement blocks by a meter high fence with no gaps.

In the light of last years Diamond Bridge catastrophe one could actually question why this sectioning of the road will not possibly result in another. The crowds which wander up and down the Boulevard during the Boat Racing period are tremendous, and one can foresee problems. But is it just me?

How to cross the road?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chasing Cars, Cambodian style, February 2011

  • Deaths on Cambodian roads only make the news if there are many. Phnom Penh Post (20 Feb.) reports 5 dead after a truck with musicians (!) collides with a tuk-tuk with gasoline.
  • Cambodia's traffic makes international headlines. An article in the Guardian (15 Feb.) echoes the underlying flow of this blog:
    'Everything you want to know about Cambodia's city society is found in the traffic of Phnom Penh – social conformity mixed with anarchic individualism, the confidence of young Cambodian women, the indifference of the police, the motorbike as an extra limb attached to the body, the inability of old cultural ways to cope with the modern world.

    If I were a Cambodian policeman, I too would just stand and watch'.

  • How weird can it get? A former official (who should be have been in jail at the time) manages to create an accident in Ratanakiri province. Solution? Pay a pittance for disabling lifes (PPP, 27 Jan.).
  • Lot's of flight information so much so that the Cambodia Mirror (21 Jan.) has a special on Cambodian Airlines (note that most do not operate anymore ....).
    Other airworthy news: Cambodian Angkor Air will start breaking Bangkok Air's monopoly (though there must be considerable profits falling to Cambodia) between Siem Reap and Bangkok (
    PPP, 4 Feb.). CAA will actually start to fly more flights out of Siem Reap. The article in the Phnom Penh Post (30 Jan.) includes the insinuation that Bangkok Air are making huge amounts of cash on this flight. A response, points out that per km Siem Reap - Phnom Penh (serviced only be CAA) is actually more expensive, while CC believes that Phnom Penh - Saigon is even more expensive (only operator is CAA's major share holder Vietnam Airlines).
    In response the Thai are emboldend to demand their share of the spills (
    PPP, 11 Feb).
    Tonle Sap Airways takes off (
    PPP, 7 Feb.) as will Indochina Airline.
  • Despite all the war like situation with the Thai, Cambodia's PM can go out of his way to lean on a freight company for
    'claiming its trucks often caused collisions on Cambodia’s roads and bridges'. (PPP, 24 Jan.).
    Mystified? Soi seems the company in question:
    'So Nguon Group chairman So Nguon said yesterday that the company had been upgrading its vehicles in recent months, adding “I don’t know who instigated Samdech [Hun Sen] to be angry with us like this.” The firm, thought to be the biggest trucking firm in the Kingdom, had bought 60 new trucks to be used for frieght transportation in recent months, he claimed, and said it had sold most of its older vehicles'.
  • Tourists though take aim at busses. Tripadvisor's forum includes a warning concerning Paramount:
    'We had a lot of material damage and medical costs but even after dozens of mails (and visits to their office) they don't respond. Even their insurance company, (Caminco Insurance) stopped responding. Almost 6 months later they are still not taking their responsibility!'
  • Take a boat instead. PPP (7 Feb.) has an article on Compagnie Fluviale du Mekong company. It's not cheap:
    'a typical 10-day cruise can cost about US$4,000 for a double cabin'.
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