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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 collapsed hotel.

A Chinese baker told us similar bombings would take place every two to three months.

a young boy acting as a guide

Part one: From Poipet to Siem Reap

Part two: It's tiring to travel in Cambodia

Part three: Selected excerpts of my conversations with gunter

Part five: The worst boat trip of your life

Part six: A final word

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