Crossing Cambodia

Friday, October 24, 2008

I suppose it's another chasing cars

Keeping you up to date on Cambodian traffic (un)possibilities:
  • It's rainy season, though it's nearly over. The Mirror has translated a Khmer language article: Rains flood the roads in Phnom Penh.
    'A Phnom Penh road traffic police officer complained again that their office is flooded stronger than before after the recent rain, and there is no drainage to let the water out, and the Phnom Penh municipality does not take any immediate action to pump out the water. The flood makes it impossible for the road traffic police officials to do their work and solve traffic problems easily, because the water goes up to the knee and stinks'.
    Does anyone have a job description of a traffic policeman?
  • An in-depth report on how to get from Bangkok to Siem Reap overland. How to bargain:
    'As for me, while filling in the forms, the men told me they could help me get a taxi from Poipet to Siem Reap. One of them insisted the price was USD60. I said, how can that be? I paid only USD35 from Siem Reap to Poipet. He said it is because of the police, who demand tax from the taxi drivers. I said no, the taxi is only USD40 (a French customer had told me this was the amount she had paid) . This guy then said, yes, before it was USD40, but now, it is USD60 "because of the fucking police," he spat. He said it with such conviction I almost believed him.

    There was another younger man, a boy, really, who was listening to all this and who kept saying, "It is ok bong-srei (elder sister), you can take a taxi from the other side" (once you get across from the checkpoint is what he means). When I said I would take the taxi if it is USD40, the first guy told me to hold on while he calls his boss. While waiting for his boss to decide, this guy proudly showed off his gold bracelet, worth USD200. I decided he must make good money scamming tourists.

    In any case, his boss said no go. When I had walked away, the guy actually drove his motorcycle up to me and tried to bargain one last time. "50 dollars ok, bong-srei?"

    Of course I said no and continued walking. I was just amazed--they must make such good money from the scam they would even turn away a fair price for one of their taxis.

    While walking towards the checkpoint many other taxi touts came up to us. I was so annoyed by then I said loudly in Khmer, "I always thought Cambodians were honest (smao trong), but you're not. I live in Cambodia, helping Khmers and yet you still try to cheat me." I was really quite pissed off. Anyway, two of the men seemed shocked and one said in Khmer, no, no, we will charge you a fair price, USD40 for the whole taxi. It was the price I was willing to pay all along so I agreed and they helped mom and I with our bags'.
  • Biking for fun? Apparently this can be done in Siem Reap. Well, actually it's a race, not everyone's idea of fun:
    'The 30K races cover one loop around the magnificent Angkor Wat complex and other temples, including Angkor Thom'.
  • More discussion on sidewalks. This time from Khmer 440 forum:
    'Khmer parking always reminds me of that Woody Allen movie where he gets out of the car and says, ''It's OK. I can walk to the kerb from here.'' '
  • And more discussion on city 'improvements'. Traffic lights (pointless?), poor surfacing, poor parking. The solution:
    'If there are Town Planners in this city, they need to be fucking shot. I just despair some ( most ) times'.
    Luckily, I can't believe there are any city planners, just as well.
  • The lack of city planning in Phnom Penh was also observed by Nat. Geo. Adventure magazine. For a discussion see DaS.
  • A tuk-tuk ambulance?
    'The tuk-tuk ambulance service will be available to all Siem Reap children and will deliver them to the Angkor Hospital for Children'.
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