Crossing Cambodia

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Chasing Cars, before the water festival

Well is there anything new to mention? Not really, a lot of yawns. Laws being enforced maybe / possibly, fuel prices failing to drop, a couple of accidents here and there, so to start off let's focus for once on the not so up-to date:
  • Mr Parish-without-borders travelled upcountry to Kampong Cham:
    'There was a lot of mud but also surprisingly a lot of dust when a road would switch from wet to dry in the space of a few meters--and then switch back again'.
    As always there's a couple of photo's to prove his story.

    He also still continues to photograph the weird world of wacky modes of transport in Phnom Penh. An example from September 5:

    "It's not too bad, as long as I don't breathe...."
  • Helmet laws to enforced? Have we heard that before? I believe so. But as of 'early 2009' the law will be enforced. Which differs slightly from the last announcement which said January 1, 2009. But as always there's a catch:
    'But the new laws have only been haphazardly enforced, and motorists complain that they are just another chance for police to extort money from them, saying that the amount they are fined for minor offences is often more than the legal limit'.
    The head of traffic police concedes:
    'Tin Prasoeur admitted that among the 500 traffic police in Phnom Penh there are some who fine people too much.
    "We have suspended many of them from work for taking extra money from people," he said.
    Traffic officers often say they take extra money to supplement their meagre incomes.'
  • 'NGO Worker Dies in necklace robbery' reads the cation above Phnom Penh's Post Police Blotter of November 5. However unfortunate, had she been wearing a helmet the result could have been different.
    'Thun Yany, 50, was riding a moto-taxi when two gangsters snatched her necklace causing her to fall off and her head to hit the street. She was seriously injured and had a lot of bloodshed on the head'.
  • The new laws on keeping street vendors off the street? The Cambodia Travel Guide (which actually is a blog):
    'police ARE implementing the new rule by removing vendors from around the Russian Market (Psah Toul Tom Poung) and some other streets'.
    However, it seems that the police are acting to get the vendors to sign up a market position in a new local market building. Who would have thought of that?
  • Mondulkiri province has yet to profit from the halving of the world oil price:
    'Prices in Modolkiri have reached 7,000 riel (Us$ 1,75) per liter, about 2,000 riel higher than in Phnom Penh. Many here blame it on a fuel monopoly in the province’s capital, and even roadside fuel vendors say they cannot lower it further'.
    'Khun Samnang said she’d been importing fuel for the past two years from the only dealer in the province, a man named Leng Hour, who, other villagers say, seems to adjust the fuel price arbitrarily'.
  • More arbitration? The government has petrol companies within it's aim:
    'The government has lashed out at Cambodian petroleum companies, accusing them of price gouging as a Monday deadline for petrol prices at the pump to drop to 4,000 riels (US$1) a litre passed unmet'.
    '[Caltex] said the timing of pump price adjustments depends on a combination of factors, including currency exchange rates, inventory levels, freight rates, product quality premiums, refined product prices, market demand and competitors' reactions to market forces'.
    So not to government pressure. Could the Cambodian government do something about the strengthening dollar? Hmmm, though so.
  • Careful now, police actually are acting to quell an accident dispute:
    '... the tension then rose between the car driver who was slightly injured and the drunk motorcycle driver who had a gun on his waist. Warned by the car driver, the police intervened and one of the cops shot a bullet in the air to calm down the situation'.
  • Finally what 's the latest on the Poipet-Siem Reap road I hear you say. Daryn and Hayden on bring you up to date:
    'The road between Poipet (the Cambodian border town) and Siem Reap is obviously a major tourist route, but is still unsealed and hugely potholed and in disrepair'.
    The actual experience:
    'So the roads are terrible, it's getting dark, and we stop for dinner. The previously charming and smiling tour guide then comes to all our tables and tells us that the bus will be stopping at the guesthouse he works for, so we can stay there otherwise we can get a tuk tuk into town. No biggie. He then, however tells us that if we do not stay at his guesthouse it is likely that we will get mugged, and he will not help us if this happens. Charming.
    So we get back on the road. About half an hour in, we're stopped by two huge trucks who have become stuck in the huge piles of mud on the ridiculously bad road. The engine stops, and it appears we may have to spend a night in the bus - no great drama, there's a good crowd, a bottle of vodka gets passed around, the guitar comes out, it's all rather school-camp like. The guide then comes on and tells us that he's going home, and that he can maybe call some tuk tuk driver friends of his to come and get us, if we will pay them handsomely. The idea that a tuk tuk could make it through these roads, and the thought of being stranded in an open sided tuk tuk minus the security of being in a group is not an attractive option. We ask what will happen to the bus tomorrow and the guide tells us that maybe it will go, maybe it won't, but if we don't help him he doesn't care and that he's off to bed. The whole episode is such a farce at this point that everyone actually in very jovial moods - despite the borderline threatening behaviour of the innocent faced guide.
    Eventually, a tow truck arrives and pulls the trucks out, and we're able to get through. We arrive at Mr tour guides aforementioned guesthouse about 11pm - 15 hours after we left, the last 7 spent covering the tiny distance of about 120km'.
    Ah well, could be worse. They also go on to explain how they were overcharged for the Cambodian visa and
    '... changed the money he just assumed he was getting a fair rate. Needless to say, we realised later on we had been well and truly had - for about a third of the value of the money'.
    Welcome to Cambodia!
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