Monday, March 7, 2016

Bad Road - Phnom Penh to Thai Border

In 2009 the Cambodian government announced the completion of over 1,082 kilometers of roads. The fragile infrastructure improvement came thanks to Chinese and South Korean investments with the national road from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville serving as the showpiece for internal travel, however the important connection between Siem Reap and the Thailand border remains to be a national disgrace.

Plans for its asphalt surfacing have long been delayed by bribes by Bangkok Air to local transportation officials, since the Thai airlines fear a dramatic drop in revenue should this dirt road becomes a regular highway connecting Bangkok with the Khmer ruins at Angkor War.

I've traveled on the road between Siem Reap and the border.

Four hours of bone-rattling ruts and holes large enough to shallow any car driven without extreme care and there's really nothing to see on this trip other than dusty rice fields withering under the tropical sun.

Of course the four-hour trip becomes ten hours with a little rain.

A hellish journey at the best of times, but as the Cambodian PM says, "When there is road, there is hope."

Hopeless this road, although still cheaper and only two hours slower than the plane.

Nik Reiter said of our journey, "At least the beer was cold."

And that says it all.

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