Traffic Insanity

Traffic in Phnom Penh is incredibly bad due to an incompetent government’s lack of control and planning.  Now we are in a two-week campaign period before commune elections and the traffic has devolved to insanely bad because of all the demonstrators wandering the streets in large caravans of vehicles.

When I left the church Sunday on a motordupe (motorcycle taxi), the highway was blocked by hundreds of political demonstrators riding on their motorcycles and dump trucks and cars.  My driver tried to detour through a back alley and for the first 100 feet it worked.  Above, our traffic on the right is stopped but the opposing traffic on the left is still moving away from the demonstration a block ahead of us.

The Cambodian psyche, though, when traffic is stopped cannot abide an open space and so when the opposing traffic a block ahead also got stopped and the left lane became empty, the right lane traffic moved over to fill up that lane, too.

Of course, just as our southbound traffic was inching along when possible, so the northbound traffic tried to do the same but was blocked by the southbound traffic that moved into the northbound lane.  Here the man with the face mask is trying to weave his way northbound through all the southbound vehicles now in his lane.

Finally everything just stops with gridlock caused by vehicles going in all direction.  No one gets angry or shouts.  Cambodian drivers just accept it as the way it’s supposed to be.  It took us 25 minutes to go one block.  The Kingdom of Wonder….