Source: Khmer Times, Tuesday, 02 June 2015; News by Khmer Times/Bob Mueller
PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Walking the streets of Phnom Penh can easily lead to a state of mind that is like road rage – pedestrian paroxysm.
As we all know, walking on sidewalks here is not possible. There are just too many obstacles, from parked cars to coconut vendors, from repair stands to welders, from eateries to money changers.
And walking on the road is suicidal.
At a stop sign – no one does. Crossing at a red light indicates that all drivers are color blind. Drivers don’t see very well anyway, because they are busy reading or writing messages on their phones.
If not, they are holding it to an ear, leaving the other hand for driving. A zebra crossing gives no priority rights to pedestrians. Anyhow, there are no zebras in PP.
Most annoying is the lack of understanding of basic physics. When one crosses a street, each step brings one closer to one curb, and further from the other.
A sane person would think: “Go behind him because the gap will get bigger.” Not here. Cars and motorbikes try to squeeze through the ever diminishing gap, causing one to abruptly halt or get hit.
Getting hit with a rear-view mirror or a handle bar is not uncommon. Getting skinned with a foot peg isn’t either. Only personal nimbleness keeps one’s feet from being run over by giant SUVs driven by people who have no “feeling” of their size.
Maybe the Buddhist idea of afterlife – Japanese: Ku, English: voidness – allows them to risk their lives when they’re on the road.
But they have no right to risk mine!!
I despise violence and am a pacifist. But sometimes, when I’m on the road and am constantly being ignored and grazed and scratched and endangered, the thought of a two-by-four, or a brick in a rucksack, or a lead pipe wrapped in Phnom Penh’s most colorful newspaper, does cross my mind.
Bob Mueller has been living in Phnom Penh for two years and walks because he’s frugal.