Monday, 23 November 2015

When the third world gets to second base

Had 12 hours to kill at Bangkok Airport so we decided to jump the Airport-Link train and head for the centre. Simple. Twenty five minute ride to the end of the line (seven stations from the airport). Grabbed a cab with a couple from Germany and got out at the Royal Palace.

Ignored the Royal Palace and went looking for food. Not much by way of street food and finally found a place that looked promising. Went in, came out. Buggered if I was going to be in Bangkok for a day and eat French Fries and burgers. Found a chain that did passable Thai/Chinese - more than passable in fact given that the dish Andrea ate nearly blew her head off with the chilli heat. And she likes chillis (thats my memory of Bangkok 38 years ago. Pointing at what looked like fantastic food in a market and having to run for the water trough and dive in to put out the fire in my mouth).

Anyway to cut a long story short this story is about affluence and traffic. Phnom Penh is 85% motor bikes and tuc tucs and 15% cars - as was Bangkok in 1977. Now it seems the ratios are reversed. Barely a tuc tuc in sight and relatively few motor bikes. The result: gridlock. We hailed a cab at 6pm and asked to be taken to the closest Airport-Link Station. Our flight was boarding at 11pm. At one stage I thought we might not have allowed enough time - you do the maths. We sat in traffic for an hour and a half moving less than a car length every ten minutes. I swear the traffic lights 100 metres ahead changed at least 20 times before we reached them.

We made the station at 7:30 and were at the airport at 8pm. Easy.
It's ridiculous to want people to remain poor but there is a cost to affluence and status and its called gridlock. Poor Phnom Penh doesn't know what's coming.

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