Crossing Cambodia

Monday, May 12, 2008

Chasing Cars, Cambodia: bumper cars galore! May 12, 2008

Any changes with last week? Sure it’s a lot wetter on the road. Last week Tuesday, Phnom Penh went gridlock as the roundabout of Wat Phnom went underwater forcing the rest of the traffic to seek alternative routes which surprise, surprise are hardly available. And with the Cambodian penchant to seek a route where there’s none the result was clear.

Has anyone noticed that there are increasing numbers of moto drivers with their helmets on? On Saturday nearly 45%, which is a record of sorts, considering that the normal rate used to be 20-30% for over quite some months. Females are again heading the pack with 50-55% of the women drivers driving helmet clad.

Is it pure coincidence, do you think, that the helmet wearing rate is going up, now the rains are well under way?
The onset of the rains is also the most unsafest period, slippery roads and the lack of good tyres lead to many accidents with just one vehicle involved. Over the weekend a moto driving just behind CC wobbled and fell without any clear cause. The passenger seemed to come off worst, but probably nothing broken.
  • Andy Brouwer in his blog gives us a different example of all too common Cambodian accident:
    'The traffic chaos on the city's streets was brought home to me on Saturday. As we left Phnom Penh on our way to Battambang, the traffic slowed to a crawl as we passed by a tragic scene in the middle of the road. A young woman on her moto had moments before been struck by a petrol tanker and her limp body was being held by a distraught friend who was shrieking loudly, as everyone stood by and stared. No-one lent a hand including the policemen at the roadside who didn't flinch, even though the dead woman's brains were splayed all over the road. The traffic laws, such as they are, are ignored by everyone. It really is every man for himself'.
  • His excellent blog also has a recent example of Cambodian rail travel:
    'Rail travel in Cambodia is slow and incredibly uncomfortable. I'm pretty sure that passenger services have been officially postponed though they still happen but they're 'not official'. Instead, in various spots around the country where you find a railway line, you can find a 'norry' or bamboo train, which as you can see from these photos are a wooden platform on metal wheels that are powered by a small electric motor'.
  • Talking about rail, leads to what’s next? As the overall Cambodian railroads are getting shaped up (possibly?), a Mekong Times article reports on the additional need of $500 million for a railroad to Vietnam.
    'Cambodia is seeking US$500 million in loans or aid to construct a 255 km rail link to Vietnam, though China has already pledged 20 million Yuan (around US$2.8 million) to the project'.
    China surely sees the logic and has correspondingly maxed it’s donation (or is it a loan, time will tell). It’s expected to be finished by 2020, which is an optimistic prediction.
  • More on the shopping list:
    'Cambodia needs at least 2.5 billion U.S. dollars to implement the master plan of national road construction. The budget for national road construction will be increased if the oil price increases, Sun Chan Thol [Minister of Public Works and Transportation] said'.
    This last point is certainly cryptic and defies logic. Lost in translation?
  • In the meantime VOA Khmer reports that
    'about 100 Cambodians, from motorcycle taxi and tuk-tuk drivers, vendors and politicians, met in a public forum Friday, urging the end of graft and the passage of anti-corruption legislation'.
    What’s the significance of this? Oh well, I believe Thaksin of Thailand started off with his downfall when he rubbed the taxi drivers the wrong way up, so who knows?
  • Talking of the tuk-tuk-ers, on the tripadvisor forum there was this entry:
    'Avoid the tuk tuk "mafia" that hang out in front of this hotel [FCC]. They assume that everyone is extremely well off and will do anything to bilk you. There is one guy who has several of these drivers under his charge and he attempts to set the prices as high as possible. If you do use these horrible people make sure you negotiate a price BEFOREHAND regardless of any promises they make about "paying whatever you like later” '.
    Then again the only reply to this goes very much like this:
    'I have been to PP several times and spent weeks there and we have always found tuk-tuk drivers to be honest, nice, and good-natured guys'.
  • Talking of inflation, tour companies in Siem Reap are increasingly being confronted with
    'profit loss on tour package sales for tourist coming to Cambodia as price of goods is steadily growing'.
  • A snap-shot of Phnom Penh’s roads:
    ‘In the days of a pavement-less Phnom Penh, engulfed in roads of dust and mud, the water used to wash most dishes in the city was less than clean’.
    This from 'Streetside Snacks, a guide to eating on the street' from Cambodia Pocket Guide.
  • Another article from the same source but without an i-link, Rolling Thunder:
    'The first thing I recommend is to install ”I am a truck, not a car” air horns. The effect is amazing. Watch the road ahead of motos and general floatsam move over as you pound your Hornmaster 5000. … A horn is your best friend, use it. Your second best friend is your rear-view mirror. … Get your own heavy duty candle power lights … really really big ones'.
    Justin Garnett, the author, then gives his final advise:
    'Drive slowly, use your eyes, stay calm (I struggle with this one), don’t drive at night and you should be fine. Even better don’t drive at all. Stay at home'.
  • Back to the Khmer New Year. The Bayon Pearnik (issue 141, May 2008) besides describing the traffic mayhem that’s Khmer New Year ('New records set' from the Cockroach Corner) also mentions ('on a cheerful note') that the bridges on the road to Koh Kong were thrown open, but only for the holidays. Here’s a link to a recent view of the road to Koh Kong.
  • Fables of the unknown?
    'An Indian company wants to invest in an airport and an electric cable car system in the Preah Vihear Temple region'.
    Will it see the light?
    'Hang Sot [director of the Preah Vihear National Authority] said: “We don’t know as yet when the project will start or how much it will cost'.
  • Another dream up in smoke? Despite it being a Cambodian carrier, Angkor Airways is a Taiwanese company, so it seems. Anyway that’s irrelevant as it’s company
    'has run into financial difficulties after the detention of a top company executive on criminal charges in Taiwan'.
    Another article sheds more light:
    'Lou [the detainee] was responsible for the financial management of the branch, the carrier said, and without him, the branch faced insurmountable cash flow problems'.
    Let’s hope the Indonesian connection works out better for Cambodia’s so called flag carrier, wherever it may be!
  • Well, last years crash in the Cardomons is in serious need of revelations a la 'Aircraft crash Investigation':
    'The investigation of the plane’s flight recorders, or black boxes, was concluded in March but it is still unknown what caused the crash’,
    the Cambodia Daily reports on May 6. The main scandal is that the relatives of the deceased still haven’t received an adequate compensation with the airline (PMT) referring to an unnamed insurer. The State Secretariat for Civil Aviation refuses
    'to provide details about the planes owner, the insurance company or what investigators discovered from examining the black boxes'.
    In this light it’s great news that the Indonesians will be shaking up the civil aviation scene in
    Cambodia. Or not?
  • Did anyone have questions concerning Cambodia Daily’s (May 9, 2008) article headline 'Bridge from S’ville to Snake Island Nearly Done'? Excerpts from the first paragraphs:
    'On June 7, PM is scheduled to officially inaugurate the construction of a bridge connecting Sihanoukville with Snake Island as part of a $300 million project to develop the site, officials said. … Nop Heng, director of Sihanoukville’s Public Works and Transport department said the bridge which is expected to take two years to build,'
    So not so nearly done! It’s also not clear whether or not the bridge is meant for traffic. Concerning the aforementioned Angkor Airways is it not strange that in this case the Snake Island Investment Group’s Executive Director 13-year prison sentence has no influence on the project, while with the detention of Angkor Airway’s owner, the company folds?
Well that’s all from 'Cambodia: worth a wager (?)' Crossing
Related Posts with Thumbnails