Crossing Cambodia

Monday, April 02, 2007

Advisory sites: tourists impressions

Concerning motorcycling renting and driving in Cambodia, Brandon and Amy on Gonomad (travel site with 11,000 (!) visits per day) advise the following:
The Law
No need to be worried, paranoid, or fearful of cops who nap in hammocks.
Let's not exaggerate
Driving Guidelines & Advice
My [CC: I thought there were two authors] best advice for people familiar to Western driving standards is to start your trip by erasing all preconceived notions and habits. Cambodian roads are not for people who fiddle with their cell phones, adjust the air conditioning vents, shuffle through CDs, and need to apply make-up at stoplights.
In Cambodia, common sense, defensive driving, and a healthy sense of adventure will safely guide you to your destination. Speed limits do not have any relevance. What might be a dot in your mirror can instantly turn into a car just four feet off your back tire. No stoplights or stop signs. Choose a path carefully, and stick to it. Everyone else will hopefully go around you. Motorists generally drive on the right, the same as in the United States. When there is a dotted or solid line separating the lanes, disregard it just as everyone else does.
It is advisable to drive hugging the shoulder of the road. Large buses and semi trucks do not slow down, but they do warn with manic [CC: Manic? Clear example of an individual who has never been to Vietnam or South Asia] honking to get out of the way. When there is oncoming traffic, they will pass vehicles in their own lanes.

At first, the honking might scare you like gunshots from hunters firing rounds at deer across a valley. Recognize the sound as a friendly hello, and as soon as you hear the first honk, move quickly to the edge of the road.

Even though I recommend driving on the shoulder, there are exceptions. Always be aware of side roads and driveways that intersect the road on which you are traveling. Drivers will not stop or even look to see what vehicles are already on the road. Traffic will pull out right in front of you, so be ready to slam on your brakes, especially if you hear the honking of a semi truck directly behind you.
In most industrialized countries, motorists only need to be concerned with scared cats, lost dogs or suicidal squirrels. A worst-case scenario is you squash someone’s pet and leave a note of apology. In Cambodia, the roads are a long, winding, petting zoo. A motorist must be prepared to swerve, slow to a crawl, or completely stop for goats, pigs, cows, water buffalo, and elephants.
The authors have rented a Honda Dream (1), so already half of all animals have to break for them! Can't imagine a situation whereby a Honda Dream needs to break for an animal in Cambodia.
Road Conditions
The roads are as unpredictable as the animals. Be prepared for leisurely paved roads, a scattering of large potholes on hard-packed dirt roads, and the front tire wandering along loose sand and gravel roads.
Not really revealing though. Then again the same authors produce a blog on omelets consumed along the way. In Phnom Penh:
'I see a broken egg and no breakfast served'
Ummm, interesting? Waste of cyber space?
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