After arriving in Peru’s Lima, I wanted to stay in the area of the city called Miraflores, because it’s known for being one of the safest and has numerous tourist facilities, including hostels.
I found out beforehand that a company names Airport Express Lima has regular services between the airport and Miraflores, precisely because Miraflores is popular with tourists. I however also found out that a smaller company called Quick LLama also offers transportation from the Jorge Chavez International Airport to Miraflores, and unlike the former, which costs 25 Soles, the trip with Quick Llama costs only 15 Soles.
However because Airport Express has a stronger hold on the market, it is far better advertised, so a tourist arriving in Lima will know right away where to find them. There are no indications at the airport that Quick Llama even provides that service, so one simply has to know about them in order to seek them out.
Nevertheless, both companies depart from the same parking lot, which is located behind the Costa del Sol Wyndham Hotel. To get there, walk out of the airport, and you will see the hotel right in front of you, on the opposite side of the road passing by the entrance. Walk around the hotel to find the parking lot behind it. Airport Express bus will likely already be parked in the most prominent location there, and will have a small booth set up where one can buy a ticket.
Quick Llama doesn’t have buses, but rather vans. The vans have large stickers on sides, so they can be easily identified. If there is one already waiting for passengers, it will likely be parked more in the back of the parking lot.
When I got to the parking lot, it was already 7:15 am. There was no Quick Llama vehicle, but Airport Express already had their bus waiting. I asked the staff at the booth at what time it leaves, and was told the next one leaves at 8am. Whereas I had enough time, I went back to the airport and returned to the parking lot in 15 minutes. By that time, a Quick Llama van was already there. I spoke with the driver who told me they were leaving at 7:45 (15 minutes before Airport Express), and confirmed their ticket to Miraflores indeed cost 15 Soles, which was 10 less than Airport Express.
I boarded their van and waited until it departed. There were only 3 more people in the van, so even though far from full, the van left when scheduled – precisely at 7:45.
We however did not arrive in Miraflores until 9:30am, because of Lima’s insane traffic. The jams on uncontrolled intersections were massive, and there are many uncontrolled intersections in the city. It was all about who can push themselves in the hardest. The larger the vehicle, the less crap it gave. The smaller the vehicle, the longer it took it to get anywhere.
Despite seemingly long lasting journey, the Quick Llama van got us all to Miraflores safely, and given the mad traffic situation, as fast as could be. I would use them again, and would not hesitate recommending their services to visitors arriving in Lima.
Well here is a question – Is Cambodia Barrier Free? Cambodia, the country of world’s worst drivers and some of the world’s most severe personal safety issues – is it barrier free? This is without doubt a legitimate question as many travellers who like to visit foreign countries either suffer from disabilities themselves, or have someone with them who is disabled. So is Cambodia barrier free enough for them to safely move around? The short answer is simple – “No”. But let me elaborate with the long answer a little.
When talking about barrier free countries, one could divide them into several groups:
Barrier Free Countries – many western countries, such as my homeland of Canada strive excessively to be completely barrier free and most people with disabilities truly can make their way around without major issues
Tricky Countries – moving around if you are a person with disabilities can be tricky, but can be done with some planning or little assistance
Not Barrier Free Countries – some countries, such as Cuba have narrow, cobblestone streets that are tricky to navigate through, however locals are more than happy to help without being asked for it. When they see someone in need of assistance, they will be right there to assist
Barrier Full Countries – those would be the countries that are very difficult, or impossible to effortlessly enjoy by the people with disabilities
Forget It Countries – barriers exist in all walks of life making an enjoyable stay for people with disabilities an impossibility
Cambodia – you take the most advanced barriers that prevent people with disabilities to navigate through, combine them into an impenetrable maze, enhance the level of difficulty by infinity and then add some extra barriers on top of it and you get Cambodia. If you find yourself in need of assistance, instead of being helped, you will be laughed at and mocked straight in your face. Cambodians don’t help others, only themselves. If there is something in it for them, then you will suddenly have more than enough of them willing to assist. Unconditional help doesn’t exist
Cambodia is not, by any stretch of imagination a barrier free country. People with disabilities will find it impossible to exist in Cambodia however Cambodia is also full of barriers and danger even for fully able bodied people. You do not have to be disabled to find it impossible to move around or otherwise exist in Cambodia. To add insult to injury, though – if you come to Cambodia as a fully able bodied, healthy and fit person, Cambodia will put you through some unfathomable dangers so if you leave the country in the same condition you have entered in, you can congratulate yourself for achieving the unimaginable.
In other words, Cambodia is not barrier free for people with disabilities, yet it’s not barrier free for people without either. And if you come to the country without any disabilities, you got to be extremely alert and careful at all times or else you could soon earn yourself some.
Road traffic is so dangerous in Cambodia, that no matter what means of transportation you choose to use during your stay, you will be constantly in danger of getting involved in a deadly accident. However the smaller the vehicle, the bigger a danger. Riding a motorcycle or a bicycle are particularly dangerous activities and one has to be more than careful and have their eyes affixed on the road with peripheral vision checking out the situation in all angles at all times. Yet the biggest danger faces you each time set out for a walk.
Cambodians are extremely rude and self important people who need to repeatedly boost their egos (some say it’s the genitals they need to compensate for, but you will find both males and females behaving that way). You will be shown no respect from other traffic participants and if you’re a foreigner, the respect will be that much lower. Because sidewalks are unavailable for use by pedestrians because they serve as parking spots for cars, motorcycles and tuk-tuks, each time you go for a walk, you will be forced to walk on the road directly in the way of disrespectful drivers. Even though Cambodians should drive on the right, you will have traffic coming at you from both sides. It will be topped up by people pushing food carts around forcing you to go to the middle of the road to get by them and that’s where it starts getting super dangerous.
Yet the gravest danger lurks out from the side, where you would least expect it. Cars and bikes parked on the sidewalks – on those sidewalks you cannot use because they are parked there – will reverse into the traffic without any regard for pedestrians who are forced to walk on the road. They will back right into you unless you jump off their way and that’s where any form of being “barrier free” ends. You will have to be extremely vigilant and alert at all times to avoid getting disabled by a rude driver entering the road from a sidewalk and this will happen to you a hundred times a day.
The fact that you will be pressured, stared down and laughed at each time you get blocked off so you have nowhere to go makes safe decision making extremely challenging. Verbal abuse will be evident and you will know you are a subject to mockery but you will have no option but to take it right where they serve it to you. Many Cambodians carry guns and they are fully aware of the fact that law is not enforced in their country (none exists to begin with). There is nothing preventing them from blowing your brains off if you stand up for yourself. They are used to killing and raping so just take the humiliation and abuse and keep your eyes wide open because another out of control motorcycle is riding down the wrong side of the street and there’s no way he’s stirring away from a pedestrian.
Below is the video that briefly shows how “barrier free” Cambodia is. It’s one of those countless cases where I was walking down the street and because of piled up motorcycles, tuk tuks and cars I had to get on the road facing bikers swishing by me from both sides. Soon after I had a car that was parked on the sidewalk start reversing onto the road, completely disregarding the fact that a pedestrian was coming and had I not responded swiftly by slowing down when I noticed the reverse lights come on, I would have been struck by it. This is by no means an isolated incident. This happens all the time and then some. Motorcyclists don’t even seem to shoulder check at all. They are particularly happy to hit you with their two wheelers.
Considering how crime ridden Cambodia really is, it’s hard to imagine that tourists and expats could be exposed to a danger that’s far more serious than violent crime. Yet it’s true. Traffic safety issues are so severe in Cambodia, they put country’s violent crime to shame. And that’s something that’s not to be taken lightly. Afterall, Cambodia is one of the most violent countries in the world, a country in which mob killings and political violence gain epic proportions. Just imagine how dangerous Cambodia’s traffic must be if it’s even deadlier than their ongoing genocide.
One of the reasons contributing to an extremely dangerous traffic situation in Cambodia are unqualified and uneducated drivers. Thousands of motorcycles are operated by children as young as 10 years old. Proper driver’s education doesn’t exist in Cambodia and since traffic laws are both non existent and not enforced, nobody even tries to get educated and become a safe driver.
Cambodian Traffic Laws
There allegedly are some traffic laws in Cambodia but the enforcement is not a priority of the government which is too focused on securing their position by removing everyone in their path. The police occasionally go out to give fines – when they need an extra cash in their own pockets – but that doesn’t mean anyone in Cambodia gives a crap about the rules. They like to fine foreigners because foreigners don’t know regular traffic fines are about 3,000 Riel (roughly $0.75) and ask for $20 or so. If it ever happens to you, make sure you request a “sombot” which is a Khmer word for “receipt”. Traffic infractions in Cambodia have fixed fines so asking for a receipt may prevent the police from extorting outrageous amounts of money from you.
Speaking of traffic laws – at the time of this post, there has been no traffic law in Cambodia outlawing drunk driving. Not surprisingly, DUI is one of the main reasons for grisly ends to many traffic accidents.
What Side Do Cambodians Drive On?
Officially, Cambodians should drive on the right – same as in the USA, Canada or mainland Europe, but as with other traffic regulations, this requirement is not enforced and is as such completely ignored. You will have all sorts of vehicles coming at you from all sides, joining the traffic by riding in opposite direction, reversing into the traffic, ignoring red lights or stop signs, never ever yielding to anyone whose vehicle is smaller than theirs. The video below contains a footage of a motorcyclist riding in the opposite direction and a Cambodian cop being a complete waste of space:
Cambodian traffic situation can best be described as a complete traffic anarchy. Nobody follows any rules, everybody does what the hell they want even though nobody actually knows what the hell they are doing. And as could be expected from an anarchy – the bigger a vehicle you drive, the more arrogant you get while on the road. As it is with carrying and flashing guns, driving and purposefully oppressing all other traffic participants, including the pedestrians is nothing more than an attempt to compensate for inadequacies and insecurities.
As soon as Cambodians get off their vehicles, they become pedestrians and will have to dodge all the vehicles which will never make any attempt to slow down or stir away for someone smaller in size. Hence when they get back in their vehicle, the feeling of being oppressed goes away and now it’s them who become the oppressors. The full circle gets closed.
There are a few pedestrian crossings (zebras) here and there on the roads with busy traffic to presumably allow the pedestrians to cross the street. I don’t know who came with an idea of painting the zebras on the road as it’s been nothing but a complete and utter waste of paint. As a pedestrian, you can wait as long as you want for someone to stop and let you cross – afterall you are on a cross walk – but no one ever will. Ever. No Cambodian will ever stop for a pedestrian. Not even in your wildest dream. They need to compensate for their insecurities and yielding to a pedestrian when you are on a motorcycle or inside a car simply diminishes their egos.
I first noticed the inability to cross the street on my first ever walk through Siem Reap right after I had landed in Cambodia. I stood at the pedestrian crossing for a good while, I stepped down on the road to make it absolutely clear that I am intending to cross the road on that cross walk, I even made a step forward in an attempt to move across thinking that once I start moving along the zebra, the drivers would stop but even though everyone could see me, nobody stopped. As a matter of fact, nobody even as little as slowed down. Not a slightest attempt to allow me to get through. Complete arrogance and ignorance which was also doubled by local’s mean-spirited nature who had a good laugh watching me stuck, unable to cross because nobody would respect the crosswalk.
Shockingly, as if no respect towards pedestrians by the drivers was not enough, Cambodians also like to park their cars and motorcycles on the sidewalks making it impossible to use them for walking. As a pedestrian, you will spend more time walking on the roads, than on the sidewalks because sidewalks are simply blocked off by rudely parked vehicles of all sorts. But then by having to walk on the road you will be subjected to rude, disrespectful drivers and moto riders swerving through the traffic from all directions, putting you directly in harm’s way.
The danger doesn’t stop there, though. Remember those cars and motorcycles parked all over the sidewalks preventing you from walking somewhat separated from extremely dangerous roads? Well, with so many vehicles blocking up the sidewalk, every time you go for a walk, you will have dozens of them backing off into the traffic on the road, literally reversing right into you, who has to walk along the side of the road because sidewalks are blocked off. Nobody will wink an eye if a pedestrian or a bicyclist is behind them, they will continue reversing, until they either ran you over, or you jumped off to save your life.
The video below shows how sidewalks in Phnom Penh are full of rudely parked cars and motorcycles giving pedestrians absolutely no chance to walk separated from dangerous traffic on the roads:
Riding a Bicycle in Cambodia
Oh boy. I bought a mountain bike when I got to Cambodia to have my own, independent means of transportation and while it means slightly more respect than walking, it surely doesn’t raise it by much. You get buses plowing it down the middle of the narrow road at full speed with zero respect for bicycles. Unwilling to stick to their side of the road, as a bicyclist you are left with mere inches of room and a choice to make – do I kill myself by throwing myself into a ditch at full speed or by staying on the road to let the gust of air created by the speeding bus throw me there?
Unlike it is in Vietnam, when you take a moto ride in Cambodia, the driver will not provide you with a helmet. That slaps the whole road safety right in the face and makes you extremely prone to serious injury. While it is allegedly required by the law for the drivers to wear a helmet, not everybody does and if they do, they are the only ones on the motorcycle wearing one.
You will see entire families, sometimes with as many as 7 members packed up on a scooter whistling away down the muddy roads. For the most part, there is either nobody with a helmet on it, or only the driver has one, the other passengers are without. It’s a massacre in the making.
Cambodians love honking horns. It has everything to do with compensating for their insecurities. Once they sit behind the wheel of a vehicle, they feel empowered and spend their entire time honking horns to let everyone know they are coming. Whether there is a reason to honk a horn or not, they do. The blaring of horns is a constant on Cambodian roads. Check out the horn crazy Cambodians in a video below:
Cambodia’s traffic safety issues are a serious threat to the safety of tourists visiting the country. While Cambodia is exceptionally dangerous for tourists because of its out of control crime, vast majority of tourists stays out of crime’s way by using organized tours and not venturing off the beaten touristy tracks and places. However, even if you’re one of the many who will be spared from becoming victims of Cambodian violent culture, you will not be able to avoid the dangers of Cambodia’s traffic. A combination of drunk driving, speeding and lack of safety helmets, doubled with severe disrespect for other traffic participants with nobody following any traffic rules makes Cambodian roads the most dangerous place you could find yourself in.
My first day at Angkor by bicycle taught me some valuable lessons and showed me what real Angkor is really like. It is not in my nature to sugar coat anything so I’ll say it how it really is. First of all, if you are into ancient architecture and find fascination with ancient Khmer civilization that was on top of the game in its time but then mysteriously vanished, then Angkor will blow your mind. However if you are not, every temple you visit after the first one will look the same.
I’m am used to riding long distances every day in all types of weather, facing the harshest of elements, but Cambodian heat is far more intense than heat of any other country I have previously visited. I spent 6 months on various islands of the Caribbean using bicycle as my sole means of transportation yet even though I was in the tropical climates with intense heat, it was nothing compared to Cambodia.
I met a guy from Vancouver, Canada who came to Cambodia from Indonesia and even though Indonesia is directly on the equator while Cambodia is much further north, he said Indonesia was just as hot, but Cambodian sun was way more intense.
An English fellow I met purchased a three day pass to Angkor and rented an air conditioned car to drive him from one temple to another so he got regular breaks from the sun and the heat yet he said he couldn’t do any more of it after one day. The heat was just way too intense to handle after he got out of the air-conned car space.
Cambodian sun will suck all energy right out of you within minutes, but there are far bigger dangers in and around Angkor that are far more difficult to deal with. Cambodian touts rely heavily on the sun which as I had mentioned sucks life right out of people leaving them completely burnt out after just a few minutes of exposure to it. The touts know that anyone who’s this exhausted can’t be 100% alert 100% of the time so they keep attacking all tourists with relentless intensity. All tourists are subjected to constant pressure from the locals so it’s only a question of time before one of them succeeds in taking advantage. If you’re lucky, it will only be money you will lose.
Combination of an extremely intense sun with inescapable heat wears everyone down way too much but constant pressure from the touts will force you to waste that little bit of energy you still have left on keeping them away. There is an endless supply of them. Once you shook one of them off, another three dozen will jump down your neck and won’t leave you alone no matter what you do. After they have pushed you to a point at which you believe it couldn’t get any worse, you will get a fresh score of them who will be twice as aggressive as the ones before. There is absolutely no escaping them and to constantly fight them off is extremely exhausting.
On top of touts and scam artists whose life purpose is to rip people off, Angkor is also full of extremely dangerous, violent criminals. Thousands of them possess weapons and explosive they’ve owned since the days of Khmer Rouge. The owners are for the most part former Khmer Rouge killing machines recruited as young teenagers to kill people on daily basis. They are used to drawing blood and seeing people die by their hand. They’ve been doing that since they were 14 and always got away with it. Little has changed since Khmer Rouge was suppressed. New, more dangerous form of it rules Cambodia today but for you as a foreigner, the most disconcerting part are the killing recruits who are nowadays in their forties and fifties and are as blood thirsty as they were when they were enlisted to kill.
The dangers of roaming through Angkor don’t end with former Khmer Rouge killing machines. Every Cambodian knows darn well that no crime against foreigners is ever investigated so all it would take it to butcher one with a machete and let them rot in the middle of the jungle where they will never ever be found. After one of those Cambodians got you, that will be the last time anyone has ever heard of you. Stray dogs will appreciate your maggoty flesh as they get treated like shit and are never fed by their masters so a little feast of this sort will surely do them good. BTW, Mahatma Gandhi once said that “you can judge a society by the way it treats its animals”. If that is true, than Cambodians are some of the most horrible people in the world. If you ever come to Cambodia, just take notice of how locals treat their animals and you still can breathe after it, remember the quote and draw your own conclusions.
Despite obvious dangers, most visitors to Angkor will not experience problems as Angkor sees thousands of foreign visitors every day making violent crime in most areas difficult. That being said, wandering off populated areas or exploring temples solo is a very risky business. Yet it gets far worse if you are a girl. Cambodia is a rape capital of the world. Many, many and then some girls were raped in less frequented temples and none of it was investigated. Rape itself is the worst experience a girl could ask for during her travels, but getting raped in Cambodia also comes with additional, complimentary present – HIV!
None of the local girls dare to wander around after dark. They all lock up in their homes and always make sure a male they can trust, such as their brother is nearby because rape hungry Cambodians won’t stop at closed doors. Just about every Cambodian girl you ever get a chance to talk to has either already been raped or came this close to it. Shockingly, true Cambodian won’t shy away from any girl, regardless how young. Sexual abuse of children by Cambodian males is an every day thing and that also involves children who can’t even speak or talk yet.
When you are in Cambodia, it’s not about whether you will be a victim of crime, it’s about when. If you are lucky, you will come and leave before someone pulls it on you. That by no means that you only met nice people. That simply means that you didn’t give them a chance to attack you. If you keep your eyes open, you will see how just about every Cambodian will check you out closely, carefully estimating what the content of your pocket could be and how difficult it would be to gain control of it. They are extremely skilled in thievery and anyone whose observant enough will notice how they always check you thoroughly out for what could be stolen, even if it will not always lead to an attempt to steal. Intentions are undeniable, though.
Because Angkor is so overrun with tourists, you will be a difficult target for most fishy Cambodians even though they will relentlessly wait for their moment. This is the reason why most tourists get out of Cambodia unharmed. Many of them lack the ability to read people or are simply too dumbed down to see the obvious but to their credit, they will come back from Cambodia with naught but happy memories. Ignorance truly is a bliss. Perhaps the key to enjoying your stay in otherwise truly dangerous Cambodia is to party it out completely oblivious to dangers as unless you try to be an explorer, the likelihood of something bad happening to you is reasonably low.
However – and that’s a BIG however… even though you may avoid being a victim of violent crime Cambodia is so riddled with, there is one thing you will not avoid not matter what – getting killed in a traffic accident.
Cambodians are the worst drivers in the world with virtually no traffic rules in place (or enforced) whatsoever. Their desire to compensate for their hurting egos takes flight when they sit behind the wheel of a motorcycle or a car. It makes them feel empowered so they honk horns all the time to let everyone know that their macho ego is coming through and force themselves in with no respect for bicyclists or pedestrians. Yes, Cambodia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, yet despite of all that, their drivers are so awful you are in even greater danger from being killed by a vehicle each time you step outside the room than by a blood thirsty Khmer Rouge killing machine. Just imagine how horrible the road situation must be if it’s more dangerous than their uncontrolled guns and explosives possessed by the killing machines who have been killing since their early teens. This is what real Angkor is really like. Being a photographer and a journalist makes me to walk around with my eyes open. Sometimes I wish I was different so I could live with blissful ignorance, completely oblivious to all the dangers a countries like Cambodia represents. I’d come and leave and would just write about warm locals who were extremely nice to me, because I didn’t see that they were faking it to get money off of me. I’d write about helpful locals who showed me hidden treasures because I didn’t see they were setting me up but their plan was busted last minute by a group of Japanese guided tourists who showed up at what could have been the crime scene had they not been there.
The Ya-Tep Shrine is unique in a way that it’s built right in the middle of a major road passing through Siem Reap (National Highway #6) so the road splits to go around it. Since Ya-Tep Shrine is a small structure, it only creates an effect of a traffic circle, not any major detours. Despite its small size, it’s a busy shrine that enjoys immense popularity among local Khmer people. It is said that the statue of Ya Tep that is housed within the shrine is a powerful spirit locally known as Neak-Ta. Neat-Ka spirits are localized, meaning that they protect the land where they are located and the people who live in the area. Ya Tep spirit is also believed to bring good luck to people playing the lottery so the shrine gets particularly busy on days of the draw.
While Ya-Tep Shrine is a standalone unit that’s not part of anything bigger, it is located right between two important landmarks of Siem Reap – Royal Residence is to the south of the shrine and Preah Ang Chek Preah Ang Chorm Shrine to the north. Ya-Tep Shrine is basically right in the middle of the road that separates these two.
The night when I discovered majestic Flying Foxes in the Royal Independence Garden and stayed to take pictures of people bringing offerings for the dead, the Buddha and the Monks since it was the beginning of Pchum Ben Festival was also the night I first saw Ya-Tep Shrine. Well, no kidding since it’s only half the road across. Local Buddhists who paid a visit to Preah Ang Chek Preah Ang Chorm Shrine also stayed for a player and burned incense sticks before the statue of Ya-Tep.
The popularity and high regard of Ya-Tep Shrine was truly evident. Each time I would be passing by on my bad ass bicycle, whether it was during the day or after dark there would be people kneeling and praying before the statue of their local protector. Speed bumps to the west of the shrine slowed down the traffic so vehicles don’t run into the island housing the shine or people who frequently come to the shrine to pray. Sadly, because of close proximity of several major landmarks, poshy hotels (Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor and Victoria Angkor Hotel) and Angkor Shopping Center, the area is overrun with Tuk Tuk drivers who will do their best to annoy the heck out of you while you are enjoying the sweet shriek of gianormous Fruit Bats. Ahh well… Tuk Tuk drivers, the plague of Cambodia.
The moment you step on Cambodian roads you will notice the most prevalent traffic rule of all – Bigger Gets Right of Way. Other than this master rule, there are hardly any other rules in effect. If driving anarchy exists, it resides in Cambodia. There are no rules, only something vaguely resembling guidelines that nobody cares about. As a result, driving in Cambodia is as chaotic as education – nobody cares about doing it right, they simply slalom around to get by.
Going for a walk in Cambodia is a life threatening experience. You get used to it quickly, but until such time, you will be shocked over immense rudeness and disrespect shown by the drivers. Nobody will care about a pedestrian being part of traffic. Nobody will attempt to slow down to avoid hitting you. As pedestrian you are simply smaller than a vehicle and bigger gets right of way. Jump out of the way if you can. Your life is in stake so you better, afterall.
It’s still shocking how there is no attempt, no intention of any sort, not even as much as slowing down or trying to steer away – bigger will simply continue going straight regardless of obstacle or who by law has the right of way. That includes automobiles joining traffic from sidelines. They only look in the mirror to make sure nothing bigger than themselves is coming their way, then they will simply continue forcing their way into the lane. Everybody who is there already, including pedestrians on the side of the road better find the way to get out of the vehicle’s path if they wish to live.
There are places with pedestrian crossings (zebras) making it look like this should be the zone for pedestrians to cross the road. I’m not sure what exactly the purpose of it is and why they bothered painting those zebras on the road. Nobody, I mean absolutely no freaking body will bother to even slow down when you are waiting there trying to cross. It’s just tough luck. They are n a car or on a motorcycle – they are bigger then you, they get right of way. Because number of motorcycles on the roads is ridiculous, you will never find a blank spot in traffic so you will have to enter and dodge at your own risk until you have crossed.
But what do you think happens once you have entered the traffic? Do you think anyone on a motorcycle or in a car will try to avoid you to give you a slightest chance to get on the opposite side quickly since you are already on the road? Think again! Not even the slightest attempt to help you cross. They will continue going straight at chosen speed. No slowing down, no steering away – straight no matter what. If you want to live, find they way to dodge. They are bigger, they get right of way.
As if this was not enough, as if insanely rude drivers did not create dangerous enough roads, it gets worse than that. As I had mentioned above – nobody follows any rules. If it’s a one way street, don’t expect there will be no motorcycles coming from the opposite direction. If you are on the right side of the road (they drive on the right in Cambodia), don’t assume there will be no drivers driving in opposite direction (aka driving on the left, opposite all traffic). If you are on traffic lights and there is a green light for pedestrians (which is a cute, animated green figure that walks Michael Jackson style) don’t assume that vehicles on the red will stop or remain stopped. And most of all – don’t assume you are safe walking on a sidewalk. It’s actually even more dangerous because you don’t expect motorcycles come wizz beside you at high speeds.
Remembers, you could be cool, but to be Cambodian cool you need to break all the rules. Real Cambodian don’t stop on the red, real Cambodian doesn’t drive on the right, real Cambodian doesn’t give way. If you want to life, look after yourself. There is little to no law enforcement in Cambodia. This statement doubles for traffic. Everybody does whatever they want on the road and will take pride in showing everyone in a smaller vehicle that they rule more than you.
Cambodian Traffic Rule Hierarchy
Pedestrians – you will never get right of way no matter what. You are the only one who can save yourself from getting killed. Watch out!
Bicycles – you can safely endanger all pedestrians as they will have to jump of your way to save themselves from getting hit. You have to give way to motorcycles and car as they will show you with joy that you are smaller and they will not back down.
Scooters – most common means of transportation in Cambodia. You can safely ignore pedestrians and cyclists. You have to watch out for motorcycles and all cars, SUVs and trucks.
Motorcycles – only vehicles with more wheels than 2 get right of way. Everybody else must get off your way if they want to live
Tuk Tuks – even though they are basically scooters with trailer behind them which makes them excessively sluggish, they are four wheelers, hence bigger than two wheelers and get right of way
Cars – 80% of traffic participants will back off, because you are bigger. Vast majority of traffic vehicles in Cambodia are scooters and motorcycles. Mostly scooters. Bicycles are second most used, but not popular among those who must use them. Locals think it sucks not having a scooter.
SUVs – all cars and motorcycle/scooter based entourages will get out of your way. You are near untouchable on the road.
Trucks – among normal traffic, you rule the road. You do whatever the eff you want, you go in any direction, blend into traffic from anywhere and just plain and simple do whatever you want behind the wheel. Near everybody else is smaller, hence you win
Semi Trailers and Buses – you don’t watch out for anything, just go. You are the biggest shite on the road, everybody else sucks and can go eff themselves or get killed if they don’t like it. The road belongs to you.
Cambodian roads are extremely dangerous with virtually no traffic laws in effect. Hence the only one rule applies – the rule of the bigger. The bigger a vehicle you control, the more right of way you get. The smaller you are, the more you have to dodge. As a tourist, you will have to dodge.