Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Crosstown Traffic

Siem Reap
Welcome to Cambodia. please note the time change and set your watch back 112 years.

After finally getting a cab ride from the border to Siem Reap, I begin to get the sense that I am in a place very different from Thailand. The road is clogged with oxcarts, all manner of motorbikes and wagons piled absurdly high with goods and humans.

The driving experience here is also very different, and I begin to regret having paid extra to get the front seat. Protocol dictates that slower traffic keep right. This includes motorbikes,scooters, oxcarts, carts being pulled by people and uncarted oxen just out for a stroll.

All of this traffic takes a significant portion of the lane on each side, leaving cars and trucks the other 55% of the road to share. This results in driving down the centre line as being the norm, which is great fun until an oncoming car or truck approaches. Thats when the game of chicken begins as each driver leans on the horn, exhorting the other to pull over.

The first time this happens, I become acutely aware of my own mortality. I've had a good life with no regrets and if it ends here, so be it. Just let my Mom know that she shouldn't bother getting my body shipped home. A funeral pyre in front of Angkor Wat will suffice.

Of course I arrive safely in Siem Reap, and ensconce myself at the "No Problem Villa". As I head to my room I notice a sign in the hallway. No Drugs. No Guns. No Grenades.

I'm starting to like this place already.