Fear and loathing in Cambodia (29.06.01 - 06.07.01)
Part four: Off the rocks
As I stand at the junction of Ratchadamnern Rd and Atsadang Rd,
Bangkok trying to cross over to the side where the historical sights
(Wat Po, Grand Palace, Wat Phra Kaew) are, I suddenly recall Jack
Kerouac's adventures with his Dharma friends, discovering the Zen
of conquering the great peaks in a 60s America with their long hikes,
literally "jumping" off and "hopping" around
the creeks and valleys.
However, if you are going to rush recklessly across the zipping
tuk-tuks and speed-demons on the roads, I wish you good luck. Not
to say you should stand and wait until the cows come home. What
I am saying is that more often than not, the drivers are very accustomed
and willing enough to let you cross the roads safely, provided they
have seen you clearly.
Maybe it's only a matter of desensitization on my part that I have
become accustomed to the insanity on the roads, but never have I
felt so confident of the drivers. This is never the case in a so-called
more orderly city like Singapore, where you distinctly feel -- even
when you are using the traffic lights -- that the taxi drivers are
out to murder you.
You can't do this in Phnom Penh either. The moto drivers who filled
the roads just didn't give way or go away. The aggressiveness became
much apparent. Just look at the two-storeyed fences surrounding
the exterior of our guesthouse. What do you think that is for?
Coincidentally, we arrived in the capital city precisely on the
day when a hotel run by a Hong Kong businessman was bombed as part
of a blackmail deal. We just happened to pass through the roadblocks
and were oblivious to the crowd that had gathered in from of the
A Chinese baker told us similar bombings would take place every
two to three months.