From the moment I arrived in Phnom Penh, I knew driving here was going to be challenging and at the very least, interesting. As Alan and I pulled out of the airport, he said that while everything looks very hectic, it’s actually quite organized. In order to make a left, Alan just inched his way out until everyone stopped or moved around him. When driving in a car, the sheer number of motos (mopeds or motorcycles) that move around you is a bit daunting, even as a passenger.
It is amazing what one can fit on the back of a moto. Entire families (four or five people with a baby) on one moto…or a cage balanced off the back with eight or nine piglets in it. Trucks and vans with nine or ten Khmers and the back end stretched out another six feet with anything from wicker furniture to motos hung off the back doors.
One thing that really caught me off guard is people simply don’t wait. If you are moving too slow or trying to make a turn…people just go all around you. There really is no “lanes” that are followed. Basically, just any open path. It is not uncommon to drive on the opposite side of the road or off the road. The other main difference is when you make a left hand turn; you have to look to your left to make sure nobody is passing you on that side!
I’ve been taking Alan’s motorbike out a lot more since it is nicer. I haven’t gotten into any accidents yet. So that’s a good thing. I’m still not completely comfortable, but with practice I’ll soon be a master Cambodian Driver!