Crossing Cambodia

Monday, June 12, 2006

1. The surface - 1.1 In the city

Whenever you need to move, having some wheels is highly advantageous. But once the proud owner of a set of wheels, we need to explore what to use these on. Seeing that from the nineteen seventies onwards nearly everything was destroyed in Cambodia, there is not always some nice black-topped road. Five years ago, it was not even feasible to travel to Siem Reap, the major tourist destination. It was fly or float (by boat). But now, there seems to be a not so bad national grid of black-topped roads.
Much the same applied to the ‘big smoke’, Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh. Crossing Cambodia first visited the place back in 2002. Back then there were very few blacktopped roads, only the main grid. Most, if not all side roads, were dusty affairs. Positively, this has changed: near the main city center many of these side roads have or are being upgraded. There does seem to be a positive correlation between the wealth of the businesses/residential properties and the amount of blacktopping. Let’s call it a coincidence.

In 2002, street 278 was unpaved, now in tip-top condition

Sadly, some roads are falling into disrepair. They potholes are resulting in dangerous situations, especially now in the rainy season. Puddles disguise the depth of the hole, much to the distress of two-wheelers.

The unpaved street 282

The unpaved roads, present their own problems. As Cambodians have a luck-luster affair with garbage collection, the roads tend to incorporate a certain degree of refuse. Additionally due to the real-estate renovation boom, small amounts of debris are added, however mostly broken bricks, not the more obvious dirt. All-in-all, this makes careful driving on Phnom Penh’s unpaved roads required. The dry season then has the added problem of dust from the unpaved roads, mostly produced by speeding cars, not so nice for other road users or local inhabitants. But that is not the problem of the driver, simply the problem of Phnom Penh’s roads’ co-user.

Great pot-holing on street 63!
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