Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cambodian transport

First of all, I'm being stalked by a tuk tuk driver. I'll get to that.

Traffic Laws. I've yet to see hard evidence that they in fact exist in Phnom Penh. The roads are definitely two way. You know this by the yellow line down the middle and the general flow in opposing directions. Do not let this fool you. Lane directions is only a suggestion. You may drive any direction you want.

If you happen to go down the one road that has traffic lights in the capital of Cambodia, stop if you want, but its not necessary.

Thing is, traffic is so slow around here, it doesn't really matter. You drive where you want, you walk where you want. They just go around you. It's beautiful really.

There is no public bus, metro, etc. There are tuk tuks, motorbykes with a carriage attached, or less popular, regular bikes with a carriage attached. Regular bikes have room for one maybe two people, motorbyked tuk tuks can hold four. This holds true for westerners, but locals can carry out feats that will impress any clown car fan.

On any given street corner there are from one to fifteen men on plain motorbykes. This is the easiest way to get around. You just hop on and go. Well, in theory. They don't always know where you want them to go, but usually it only takes a minute to figure it out.

My first night here I took a moto to a "companion bar". The next day, I took a tuk tuk out to the killing fields and the prison museum. I had been sitting outside my guesthouse reading. Driver comes up and asks where I'm going. I say Killing field, but not till later. He had trouble understanding "later", but I got my point across. He says he'll come back for me. I laugh and continue to read. Eventually I go for internet down the street and on my way back he pulls up. "You ready?" Why not, so I hopped in. He didn't know much English, but was quick with a genuine smile. When he dropped me off at the museum, he asked when I wanted him to come back and we agreed on two. I got out a little early, and went for a wander. There are about 15 drivers standing outside anywhere that may attract tourists. One in particular comes up and asks if I already have a driver, I say yes, he says, "He is not coming" kind of joking. I say, no I'm early, he'll be here. Sure enough, at exactly two, he finds me in a store a little ways down the road. A good tuk tuk driver is good to have. He takes me back to my guesthouse and asks what time to pick me up tomorrow. I do not realize at this point that not all drivers are so pleasant. I say I don't know what I'm doing and he leaves. I half expected him to be outside my guesthouse the next morning. He wasn't and I wandered down the street and jumped on a motorbyke.

This morning I walked, everywhere, so far. Then realized I'd left my passport in my room and was not comfortable with that so hopped a byke toute-suite to get back there. When we arrived, I told him to wait because I wanted to go back where I was. When I came back out, who's standing next to him? My tuk tuk driver from two days before. He asks where I'm going today, I tell him just around. For some reason I tell him I'll be back this afternoon. I think I was thinking about having him take me somewhere. I jump on the byke and leave him with his tuk tuk. I come back around 2pm, and I see him sitting in a driveway a few down from my guesthouse. He doesn't spy me. Here's the kicker-he's taken the carriage off his tuk tuk. Its now just a motorbyke. Coincidence? I don't think so. He saw that I had been going around on just a byke and he came back with just a byke. He has now driven past the guesthouse about 5 times. Ironically, had he been sitting outside in his tuk tuk, I probably would have had him take me out of town. But I don't want to drive an hour on the back of a byke. Plus now I'm creeped out and don't want to go out of town with him anyway!

I leave for Siem Reap/Angkor Wat in the morning. Meeting Shel there and apparently we already have a tuk tuk driver arranged. Sheez. The things I get myself into.


Katie said...

wondering what the rate for a tuk tuk and or motorbike would be

Traveling Ciguapa said...

Dead cheap