Crossing Cambodia

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Chasing Cars, Cambodian Style, January 17, 2008

  • Appearing for the first time on Cambodian roads: the Trabant. Two of them made the charity drive[!] of just six months from Europe to Cambodia, bravo! They just broke down 320 times! Wonder if the Trabant will catch on as easily as the latest Lexus models?
  • So you hear a siren and you are not fast enough to pull over? The official's goons will give you a lesson! Cambodian newspaper Koh Santepheap gets in the story. Here is the link provided by KI Media, complete with pictures of the beating! Just 23 comments on this article ...
  • Accidents happen on a daily basis in Cambodia, as everywhere in the world. Now why would a story of a drunken South African crashing in Cambodia be so worthy of both a newsarticle[by DPA] as well as 2 pages on the khmer 440 forum?
  • The same forum also goes into depth on what is the real Cambodian road menace: the
    'helmetless [foreign, CC presumes] “dirt Bike King”'.
    The forum does go someway at trying to implore foreigners in Cambodia not to be fooled by the local customs but to use what they learnt back home concerning safety issues.
  • The most recent issue of Asialife highlights (=free publicity) Infinity's Insurance Road Safety Initiative:
    'As any Phnom Penh resident or visitor can attest, the city's roads are nothing short of Chaotic, with seemingly little awareness of road safety. ... Only 3 percent of motorbike accident victims were wearing a helmet'.
    Infinity's initiative? They give away helmets via a radio station and
    'do not insure people who don't wear helmets'.
    How the former is done in practice is not clarified, their website does not mention it. Possibly somewhere in the small print it says if you are in a motorcycle accident, break your head with no helmet, you get no pay out [= not being insured].
  • Not often does Crossing Cambodia come across info for 'real' cyclists, but the Tales of Asia blog has an entry on 'Bicycle Safety'. Does the entry highlight your position at the lower end of the traffic chain? No, it's about handbags being stolen. What does the police do? They actually do something, they warn the owners to put locks on the baskets!
  • More cycling news: the Cambodian Cycling Club is '
    promoting bicycle racing as a sport'.
    But mostly they guide foreign tourists.
  • So besides resting under a tree or handing out leaflets to bicycle rent shops what are police up to? Khmernews mentions that they now all of a sudden have a drive to crack down on motorcycles with no driving plates.
    'More than 100 modern motorcycles with no plate number were detained, and checked by all seven district police, police said on 12 Jan 2008. The event followed some teenagers with no plate number motorbikes committed robberies around a few times in Phnom Penh city in 2008. After motorbikes were confiscated, the teenagers’ parents went to Phnom Penh Police Office in order to take their motors back. It was not known that whether the motorbike owners were found or educated. '
    What about cars? Roughly 1 in 10 of all cars has no license plate. Can we safely suggest that these cars might also be involved in
    'committing robberies'?
    Other enthusiastic police officials have
    'detained 93 imported pigs'.
  • An airport (Sihanoukville) that currently hardly functions is set to become 'Cambodia's largest'. This to channel in a never ending stream of tourists. Twenty percent growth is required annually, but where will they all stay?
  • And then finally an observation from a Malaysian visitor: '
    ... Unlike Kuala Lumpur, the traffic here is not heavy, but it’s crazy. People drive like there are no rules. They ignore traffic lights and the traffic police don’t seem to care.

    I never imagined riding a tuk–tuk would be such an adrenaline rush. We’d hang on for dear life as it swerved in and out of traffic. At times, we’d be facing oncoming traffic.

    Cars won’t stop for you when you cross the road. Instead they swerve to avoid hitting you. I felt it was like attempting suicide to cross the road. .... '

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