Last bicycle ride in Phnom Penh and planning of the upcoming rural adventure
26.01.2013 - 27.01.2013 35 °C
Many complain about the chaotic traffic in Cambodia. Lanes are purely for decoration, traffic lights are frequently ignored and direction of traffic never stopped the locals from driving against the flow. All this sounds (and looks) rather scary for the uninitiated tourist.But once here, serious road accidents are rare (I'm talking about towns now) and upon closer look, one will find an intricate system of gestures, movements and eye-contacts making this chaos surprisingly functional way to get around.
Giving myself a week after I arrived to find my way and buy a bicycle, the last two months have been conveniently enhanced by me being mobile, self-sufficient and hardly ever feeling at risk. But as it turns out, it is not the locals who should be accused of dangerous driving, it is me. On my last day before embarking to explore the rest of Cambodia, I took my last ride towards to Orassey Market in a quest to find a buyer for my bike. Not quite sure which of the shops deals with second hand bikes, I slalomed through the traffic, picking a store across the road. Making my way across, I was greeted by the polite but seriously unhelpful 'yes', as a response to every question.
Deciding to venture to one of the side streets, I had two options. One was to cross back to the other side of the street and cycle 15 meters before turning left to a small street full of bicycle stores. The second one was to stay where I was and cycle along the pavement against the traffic, turning left into the same street, without the unnecessary double-crossing of the main road. Ha. Encouraged by my previously experience, I chose the former. All went well until I failed to spot a sturdy policeman lurking behind a parked van, who decided to walk into the road exactly the same moment I was passing the van.
- The result: a full on collision.
- Policeman damage: none!
- Bicycle damage: mangled front basket
- Me: bruised chin from a direct impact of the policeman's helmet and busted kneecap.
The positive side is that I get to say that I run over a Cambodian policeman. The less positive side is my impaired ability to hike (and chew), which is scheduled to be the main activity for the upcoming weeks, together with bus rides and boating. Fortunately, despite a less than ideal state of my bike, I negotiated a $16 price, which is mere $4 depreciation from my purchase price.
Rid of my bike, I walked back to the hotel, no longer able to refuse plentiful tuk tuk and moto offers on the grounds of having own transport.
With less than a day left in Phnom Penh, the Duke is arriving this lunchtime to join me on the rural part of my adventure. Having organised a tuk tuk pick up for him from the airport, I am determined to make my way through the rest of the relevant Lonely Planet chapters, before making an informed choice which bus ticket we need to buy. Tara for now.