Monday, August 24, 2009

More on Siem Reap's motorists

I was told this great story by an expat friend the other day. She was having a meal at the Blue Pumpkin when suddenly this French man rushed into the cafe, screaming his head off, yelling at the counter staff to call the police. Customers were confused by this commotion but the facts soon emerged.

The man had parked his four wheel drive outside the Siem Reap Book Centre, which is just next to the Blue Pumpkin here in the old market area. The man ignored the shop owner's request to move his vehicle. A stupid move, as he was to find out. (Nobody messes with the Siem Reap Book this guy new in town?)

Staff at the book shop returned with a piece of wood with nails stuck in it and started slamming the wood into his car. Hence the screams.

I laughed when I heard the story. This is because I've had to tell expats and Khmers to move their vehicles when they park directly in front of the Bloom shop, blocking the entrance. It drives me crazy because these people are so inconsiderate. We run a business - how would they like it if someone else blocked the entrance of their place of business or house?

Most people are nice enough when I politely ask if they could park their cars somewhere else. But many argue and it is always the same story: There is nowhere else to park.

One time it was a woman from a conservation project (her organisation was emblazoned on the vehicle). She looked annoyed and said to me, "There is nowhere to park at the market."

I agree, but, how is that my problem? If you can't find parking space, get a tuk tuk for your weekly trips to the market.

Fortunately she understood when I explained that I pay high rent for this shop and I really need to attract customers. We agreed she could park her huge vehicle before the shop opens (see, I'm not unreasonable).

A week later, I found myself in the same situation. This time it was a French man in his 50s or 60s. "Great," I thought. "Do I really want to pick a fight with an elderly French man?" I was so sure he would cuss me, yelling why don't you speak French etc etc.

But because I spoke to the woman, I thought, as a matter of fairness, I had to speak with the man too.

It always starts out the same, the drivers avoiding my attempts to get their attention. And again the same argument: there is nowhere to park at the old market. "Madame, it is difficult to everyone, uh," he said in his French-accented English.

I beg to differ. It's only difficult if you choose to drive your car to the market. It's not difficult for me and many others who walk, or take a moto or tuktuk. It is the same problem as in any other country - some areas just lack parking space, so you take the bus or other form of public transport (let's not even mention carbon emissions driving your 4WD).

Sometimes I think expats here think Cambodia is a lawless country and so do as they please.

Well, the man who parked in front of the bookshop soon learnt there are laws here too, however arbitrarily and infrequently they are enforced. His car was towed away by the police, who took care to photograph the process, as evidence they had treated his car with care. No doubt he had to pay a fine to get his vehicle back.

1 comment:

feddabonn said...

watched a programme recently that spoke of how non drivers in nz were actually subsidising drivers, having to share the cost of free parking at stores! how is cambodian public transport, generally?


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