Friday, January 27, 2006

Phnom Penh movers and shakers

With no public transport in Phnom Penh, a range of interesting modes of moving have popped up in this crazy city. In fact there is never any problem going anywhere you want. Just step into hotel reception and before you can take a further step the guy at reception asks if you need a tuk tuk. Step outside and you'll be greeted by at least 8 guys all shouting motorbike at the same time. By the time you walk to your restaurant for brekky, you'll have been propositioned a least 35 times. Perhaps the most popular is the lift on the back of the moped. This gets very interesting when you're balancing a backpack on your back, holding onto your daypack in front and hoping the guy doesnt pull out too quickly, which of course he does. The limit for passengers is 6 although we did see some people breaking this rule. One of the fun things about the moped is the mid traffic conversation, conducted at high speed. Up next is the Moto remorque. This is like a cruising loungechair and has to be the most advanced form of transport I have come across. With a warm breeze in your hair you can casually chat to your companion in the opposite chair. The ubiquitous cycle pedicab also has an interesting design accessory being that you the passenger get to ride out front, usually staring the ongoing traffic down in the process. U turns here consist of making a turn directly into oncoming traffic whose responsibility it is too swerve. The great thing about these pedicabs is the drivers who speak no english and have absolutely no idea where they are going. They are also newcomers to reading maps. Their strategy seems to be to agree to everything the foreigner says and get him into your pedicab and start cycling. Should you fail to give directions they will just continue cycling in whatever direction they started and behave as if they've just landed in Phnom Penh from Mars. Of course should any of these methods of transport prove unsatisfactory, hop on a truck, car, bicycle or horse, all of which the going rate seems to be about 1 dollar.

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