‘Just follow me dad!’  Alex reached the end of the lane and then turned left into an relentless wall of oncoming traffic, easing his bike across the path of motos, tuktuks, cars and trucks which just turned a little to miss him without altering their steady 20 mph, until he blended in with the flow of traffic going in our direction.

It’s an experience driving in Phnom Penh.  There are few traffic lights and roundabouts and  no obvious rules.  Drivers and cyclists just seem to know how others will behave and avoid them as they would just as if they were walking along a crowded pavement.

It’s the same if you want to cross the road on foot.  Just step out into the flow and keep walking slowly and deliberately so that nobody has any doubt of your intensions and they drive round you. 

Despite the volume and chaos of traffic, we saw just one accident, when somebody fell of their moto at the side of the road.      

Drivers are not neurotic in Phnom Penh.  There are no stops and starts, no irritations, no speed merchants, no horn honking or shouting just a blending into a steady inexorable flow of traffic.  Everybody seems to know what is expected.

But the way, they drive their motos looks incredibly dangerous; police in England would have a field day. Mothers balance children on the handlebars as they drive one-handed through  heavy traffic.  A family, a little baby sandwiched between mother and father, careers along in the flow.  A man controls his moto one-handed while wheeling a bike with the other.  Another balances a big water tank on the handlebars and peers round the side of it.    

Sundays evenings are the busiest time. Then everybody seems to go for a ‘promenade en moto’.  It’s the time to see and be seen.  Men ride upright in shiny suits while their women sit side-saddle in their best pyjamas.   And their children stand up on the seat in their designer football strips and wave.

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