Crossing Cambodia

Saturday, May 26, 2007

National Highway 5-6 Siem Reap - Poipet

National Highway no. 6 from Siem Reap to Sisophon and then from Sisophon on National Highway no. 5 to Poipet, the overland borderpoint to Bangkok, has the reputation to be the worst national highway of Cambodia, an accolade which it has retained since time immortal. A recent article from the UPI's food(?) correspondent, Julia Watson, confirms this:
'The road from Siem Reap in Cambodia to the Poipet border post in Thailand is 93 miles long. The journey takes, on a good weather day, around 6 hours by bus.

To call it a road is to grant it a compliment it isn't due.
Despite massive overseas funding raised to develop an acceptable highway to the border crossing, hard standing is sporadic. The surface is no more than compacted red dirt that after any rainstorm turns quickly into a rutted field. Traffic slaloms from side to side to avoid the potholes. But punctures and ruptured crankshafts are common'.

This seems to contradict Cambodia's own website on this stretch of road, over on Tales of Asia. According to this site the road condition is 'Overall okay' as of April 30, 2007. This despite referring to the Poipet to Sisophon section of 50 kilometers:
'This section is surfaced and varies from okay to quite wretched. A lot of potholes (big enough to park a truck in) were patched up late last year, but the road, particularly near Poipet remains a bone-jarring ride'.
In all they reckon a bus could do the stretch of 155 km in 5-7 hours. This seems to be substantiated by reports from travelers on their web site, though with the recent rains, who knows what could happen?
What they do comment on is numerous scans mostly directed to the unfortunate tourists who can not cough up the cash to fly on the monopoly airline Bangkok Airlines, which seems to repel all competion. Probably the road department are in on the act as well ...

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