Grandmas, adolescents on motos common in Cambodia

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Older women driving a motorcycle or scooter — generically a “moto” — is a familiar sight in Cambodia.  This presumed family is in the thick of homeward-bound traffic, but “mom” and child wear no helmet as required by a much-ignored law.  Crossing the intersection behind them is a vendor with his wares.

In much of Southeast Asia, the streets are clotted with motos — motorcycles or scooters. Since they cost less than cars, the vehicles are the least expensive way to upgrade from traveling by foot or bicycle. They also are a major contributor to air pollution.

Because the two-wheelers are everywhere, foreigners quickly take their presence for granted and many expats adopt them for transportation.

You see drivers of every kind fearlessly navigating congested streets and, for the most part, skillfully dodging each other, bicyclists, pushcarts and SUVs. They speed (in relative terms) around obstacles, occasionally bump into each other and generally shrug at minor collisions. During the work day, traffic usually goes no faster than 20 miles per hour (33 km), but there are plenty of close calls.

Still,  Continue reading

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Nervous drivers promote much waving of hands

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Just how helpful is this parking attendant may well be debatable, yet nervous drivers often are too skittish to park by themselves.  (By the way, isn’t “Colorblind” is an odd name for a clothing store?)

Many drivers in Cambodia are just plain bad.

With automobiles only slowly coming into vogue following the defeat of the Khmer Rouge early in 1979 together with widespread poverty, Cambodians came to cars gradually.  It shows.

I once stood for a full five minutes watching in disbelief as Continue reading

Traffic chaos is not in the eye of this beholder

One busy intersection without lights or signs during the evening rush period.

One busy intersection without lights or signs during the evening rush period.

Chaotic doesn’t begin to describe the traffic in much of the developing world.

One of my earliest memories of it takes place in Mumbai, which I visited in the late 80s.  I was thoroughly intimidated by the convergence of cows, bicycles, motorcycles, cars and pedestrians on the thoroughfares and side streets.  Crossing them seemed undoubtedly was perilous to the extreme.

I since have witnessed similar congestion and danger, usually without the cows, in Asia and Africa.

Here in Phnom Penh, what looks like chaos actually turns out to be more like a mutable form of brinksmanship.  Or chicken.  Continue reading