Cambodian Roads Are a Pain in My Ass

2000 > Cambodia

My ass still smarts from the ‘road’ to Siem Reap, Cambodia

Nice place for a stop, Beyond Bum Fuck Nowhere (BBFN)
Light load, only a dozen people

What a nice day for a drive in the country
I can still taste the dust

You better bless that Chevy Caprice Taxi next time!
The cheap way to travel

They ain't using
The slow truck to Siem Reap

Remember that Nissan Pathfinder commercial that played in the States a
while back, “The Road to Rio,” where they filmed a family
driving from Chicago to Rio de Janerio? I only saw one commercial, and it
sticks with me to this day. The truck is shown plowing down crazy South
American roads as the narrator says, “When they ran out of pavement,
they used gravel. When they ran out of gravel, they used dirt. They never
ran out of dirt.”

Going to Siem Reap, the town next to Angkor Wat
in Cambodia, I lived all those road surfaces, many times simultaneously,
as I bounced along in a Nissan truck. We traveled on what the locals
called a road, but that random assortment of pavement, gravel, dirt, hay
(on fire and not), moon-sized craters, fallen bridges, and cross-patty
detours would only qualify to the western mind as a road in the most
liberal sense. Oh, and we traveled fast and furious!

Look at the pictures to the left, and imagine a Nissan King Cab truck,
filled with seven (7!) people in the cab, and ten to fifteen people, with
all manner of bags, sacks, and tools in the back, flying along washboard
(at the best) roads at 70-100 km an hour. Now imagine the driver only
slowing a fraction to traverse potholes that literally swallowed the truck
whole! I am very serious in saying that entire vehicles would disappear
from view as they dove into a crater, re-appearing like a worm born from
the earth as they climbed the other side.

That’s if you could see the other vehicles, or event he road, for the
massive dust clouds that everything produced. Headlights were blazing and
the passengers in the back wore scarves across their faces, but that red
choking dust still blocked light and coated skin. When I washed my clothes
after the trip, the water turned orange with dust, and I was in the cab!

Not that being in the cab saved my ass from a savage beating. Those mad
drivers, pushing the trucks painfully hard to make the trip in eight
teeth-rattling hours, did not slow down for anything, sometimes even
tossing passengers from the truck bed when they jump massive mounds in the

The funniest sight in all the dust and ass-pain was the random
“workers” who would ask for spare Cambodian money for fixing the
road. What they did, if anything, was not apparent to me. They usually
asked for money near the worst sections, where drivers would need to
detour through dry rice patties because the road was so bad, with no
visible improvements this decade to justify the cash payments.

Those who did seem to earn payments, were the several police checkpoint
guards. For a long time, this section of Cambodia experienced the worst of
the decades long Cambodian civil war, and the road was impassable due to
highway robbery and military activities (including millions of land
mines). Nowadays, the area is relatively safe, though trucks will still
not drive at night because of the horrible condition of the road.

If you are contemplating visiting Angkor Wat overland from Thailand,
and you wanna see just how bad the road is, do yourself a favor. Don’t
make arrangements on Khao San
Road, take a government bus to the border and invest in two things if
you love your ass: a seat in the cab and a thick pillow.

you don’t believe me, see what Potts
has to say on!