Crossing Cambodia

Friday, January 30, 2009

Chasing Cars, end of January 2009

We're 1 month into the new year and despite assurances that police will crack down on non-helmet clad motorcyclists, compliment rates hover around 80%, is that good or bad?
  • I might have forgotten, but sidewalks / pavements are in the forefront for a battle on Phnom Penh's riverfront. Business have been ordered to get rid of everything cluttering the pavements to make way for ..... Well, they mentioned pedestrians however from this forum it's Lexii (?) who are now taking up the space created.
  • While talking about arrogant brands of cars, research (under news) in the US has established that the car you drive determines the style you drive or is it the other way? Hummer owners are the worst (with the highest rate of traffic related violations), no news about Daewoo Tico's!
    '“The sense of power that Hummer drivers derive from their vehicle may be directly correlated with the number of violations they incur,” said Dr. Raj Bhat, president of Quality Planning. “Or perhaps Hummer drivers, by virtue of their driving position, are less likely to notice road hazards, signs, pedestrians, and other drivers.” '
    The funny thing is, yes Hummer drivers here are poor drivers, but will never clock up any traffic violations. Interesting?
  • Chinese New Year (and more importantly Tet) have come and gone. There are now less vehicles on the road, more helmets, so traffic related deaths have dropped. Wrong!
    'Pen Khun [deputy director of the Traffic Police] said the number of accidents - 14 in total - were markedly higher than those recorded during last year's celebrations, and were mostly a result of drunk driving'.
    According to
    PPP. Now what to do about drunk driving?
  • A Chinese New Years gift from the ... Chinese. No less than 220 motorcycles were donated to Hun Sen's body guard. He must feel insecure! Originally reported by but resent by Khmerisation and linked to KI Media.
  • As with everything that goes up, eventually it comes down. Airport traffic is this time the victim, down last year by 3%.
  • And what will Cambodia's new tourism 'president' do about it?
    'In order to increase the number of foreign tourists, we have to have a national carrier. I will continue to urge the government to establish a national airline. Tourists in the new millennium do not wish to spend months traveling by cruise ship, they don't have the time'.
    Does he really believe that tourists are nowadays arriving by cruise ship?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chasing Cars, 22-01-2008

More news on Cambodia and traffic. Helmets, do I hear helmets?
  • Helmets it is. Last week's chasing cars pointed to the lack of quality, now the media and NGO caravan are catching up.
    'Despite the much-touted introduction of the new helmet law - which makes protective headgear compulsory for motorbike drivers - over two weeks ago, drivers and passengers are still at risk due to a lack of regulations governing the quality of helmets sold in the Kingdom.'
    A Phnom Penh Post article today. Not only are NGO's clamoring, the police are clueless:
    'El Narin, deputy director of Phnom Penh's traffic police, said it is difficult for law enforcement officers to take action on drivers wearing poor-quality or inappropriate helmets.

    "Police don't have a plan to deal with drivers who wear unsuitable helmets. We are trying to introduce helmets step by step but haven't yet defined the quality of the helmet they have to wear," he said'.
    Hmmm, but these problems have occurred all over the world when helmets have become compulsory, now why hadn't the NGO(s) which help draft and support the Traffic Law think of that?
    And why can't (or couldn't) the police check at the source, i.e. the import of or at the sale of helmets?
    Anyway, at least these another excuse for a public campaign, anything to avoid Cambodia's economy from tipping over void. Chapeau to all involved!
  • More economic news, Cambodia's car industry has managed to produce 1 car in the last 4 years, but they are laying the foundations for a potential industry.
    'In the backstreets of Phnom Penh, in a cramped workshop shared with equipment and old parts, a Cambodian man is chasing his vision of greatness. Nhean Pholet is not a trained mechanic, but this 50 year old is currently building the "Angkor 3".
    Hands up who wants to invest in the car industry?
  • In spite of the expectations, metered taxi's are on the increase, not only in numbers but in use as well. But still waiting for one to turn up might be a bit ambitious, CC believes. I must try them out some time.
  • Make way for the holy cow. Recent improvements riverside have seen 'poor' businessmen see that their encroachment of the pavements not to be tolerated anymore. Irate citizen notes (in today's PPP) that it are cars they need to be packed away.
    'Unfortunately, they ignored the many offensive cars and motorbikes that every day block the passage of pedestrians, forcing them into the road where they face instant oblivion from passing traffic'.
    Give it a week and all we revolve to as it was!
  • Travel advice once more: avoid boats.
    'This is when we discovered that not only were the life vests useless but there was no rear exit, no life rafts, all the windows were welded shut and the bilge pumps did not work'.
    They survived, lost a bit of money, but managed to sell the story to a Canadian newspaper.
  • More travel advice. It just might be possible to avoid the touts in Poipet when on your way to Siem Reap from Bangkok.
    ' "We completely cracked down 100 percent," he said. "This doesn't happen anymore." '
    Seeing is believing? And if so, where have they gone?
  • Is scootering around fun? Apparently so. But take your motorcycle diaries with you:
    'As far as maintenance goes we only had the front wheel bearings replaced, new rear shock absorbers, new battery, chain adjusted and a scheduled oil change'.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chasing Cars, 2009, nummero uno

Well for those of you who thought I'd become the first victim of the possible upcoming Cambodian law on internet, have no fear. I'd just been away for a holiday followed by a painful process of buying a new computer. Somehow the geeks know how to put a couple of their own songs on your computer, but fail to just put those documents there where you had asked them. Worse they even lost them altogether; it's just a couple of months work lost, could be worse. Lots of pain and no gain sort of sums it up. Such is life in Cambodia. [audible sigh]

So what's new? Well by now it should be quite obvious, nearly everyone is touting a helmet on their head. Mirrors are there too. This is so not Cambodia.

  • So helmets it is. In many cases the 'helmets' are flimsy covers (for only $2), which are hardly going to help but most seem sturdy. Andy B. reports on his helmet and Nigeria where they are in the same waters as here, but more inventive:
    'Police in Nigeria have arrested scores of motorcycle taxi riders with dried fruit shells, paint pots or pieces of rubber tire tied to their heads with string to avoid a new law requiring them to wear helmets'.
    At least now Cambo PM will id Andy as a "model" citizen. The same PPP report (23 December, 2008) also raises expectations:
    'Ung Chun Hour, director general of transport at the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, said three-quarters of all road accidents involved motorbikes, and half of all traffic deaths could be prevented by wearing a helmet'.
    The future will tell, but I have hunch.
  • And the first reports:
    'Phnom Penh's helment campaign opened strongly last week, with more than 120 violators nabbed on the first day alone as authorities try to reduce the number of head injuries, which they say are the leading cause of traffic deaths'.
    "On the first day that the traffic police started to fine, we saw 124 motorbike drivers who did not wear helmets, and we collected 378,000 riels (US$92.62) in fines," said El Narin, deputy director of the Phnom Penh Traffic Police.
    With fines being 3,000 riel and 120 violators, too much money has been collected. Oh no!
    Well here they go again. The guys policing the streets vaguely know what there job is, though extortion seems to close. So they muddle up the numbers, because they don't have a clue.
    Since, I've heard of the lads asking for $20 for a trivial offense such as failing to stop at the white line (50 cm over). After consultation all agreed on $2 with no receipt. Ghastly not? Anyway let's hope something good comes from it ..
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