Crossing Cambodia

Monday, March 19, 2007

Advisory sites: Tales of Asia

The Tales of Asia site is a long running site concerning 'No nonsense information on travel and living in Cambodia'. End of quote. It's a collection of stories starting from around the turn of the century focusing mainly on incoming tourists particularly in Siem Reap. There used to be a forum but that is now defunct.

Under 'FAQ (and not so FAQ) Transportation' section they carry the following (hopefully this is a not so FAQ): If I'm involved in an accident, what could happen?

The answer is partly as follows:
... Anyway, what happens at an accident scene is first, every Khmer for miles comes around to watch what's going on. If you're injured they will try to help. This is unfortunate as help usually means picking up the unconscious victim and shaking him or her in an effort to revive them. I don't even want to think about how many accident victims were further injured by this practice, but regrettably, as the average Khmer knows nothing of proper medical procedures, shaking the unconscious person seems like the right thing to do.

Other questions asked (and answered are : how is the train service? A.: Cheap, painfully slow, uncomfortable, scenic, friendly, limited, ...)

More in this vein. Another of the FAQ sections relates to : Legalities: visas, police, corruption:
A: If you drive in Cambodia - car or motorcycle, sooner or later, probably sooner, you're going to be stopped by the police for some infraction which you may or may not have committed.

If you can avoid running over the police officer and there's no one sitting on a motorbike that's as big or bigger than yours and ready to give chase, then there's no reason to stop for the police. However, if you do have to stop, it works like this:

In Cambodia you do not hand over your license, registration, and insurance proof because hardly anybody has all three let alone even one. But the very first thing you do is remove the keys from the ignition and put them in your pocket. If you don't, the police might do it themselves and you do not want to be in this situation. What you then find out is what your infraction is and then see what amount of money is requested. As a foreigner the initial request is usually somewhere between $5 and $20. $5 is silly, $20 is simply hilarious and if you are moronic enough to pay $20, well, you deserved it, then.Traffic infractions in Cambodia cost from between 2000 and 5000 riels (that's 50 cents to a $1.25). There is absolutely no reason whatsoever you should ever pay more than this.

In most cases, you stand around with the police for a few minutes chatting and smoking cigarettes. In a majority of instances, the whole affair is very friendly and there is no reason for you to become indignant. This is a game not a duel.


But receipt or no receipt, the most important things to remember are:
1.)Immediately remove the keys from the ignition and put them in your pocket.
2.) Be friendly.
3.) Pay no more than 5000 riels.
Good advice? At least it's clear. Drive carefully and avoid police seems to be the best way around traffic in Cambodia, pretty similar elsewhere in the wild world?
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