Ready for a little scooter getaway off the beaten track?
Renting a scooter and driving in Asia
In Asia, scooter rental is commonplace. You can find them everywhere and at very affordable prices.
- Driving and the highway code in Cambodia or Vietnam has nothing to do with Europe. It takes time to adapt and to observe the traffic before getting started.
- Storming, pestering or insulting will not do any good. That’s the way the country works, it’s up to you to adapt to it.
- Driving a scooter isn’t difficult but if your last experience dates back to your teenage years, it’s advisable to practise quietly on a road or a little-travelled road to regain all your reflexes.
- As for the tank, there is nothing to be anxious about. The road is lined with Cambodian-style petrol stations : These are rudimentary stalls displaying soda bottles filled with petrol.
First step: crossing a bamboo bridge
A compass, a map… and a few accessories just in case, but above all, a smile!
What’s more, they don’t understand that you are lost. Many of them have never travelled outside their borders or their city.
Tips to ask for directions in Cambodia
Off the beaten track, no signs, no signposts to find your way around, you have to ask.
Asking Cambodian peasants for directions is not as easy as it seems. You have to respect a few basic rules.
- Never point the direction with your finger or your arm, they will always tell you it’s the right one… with a smile.
- Keep your hands together in a relaxed attitude. If they feel your impatience or dismay, they may respond to anything just to comfort you. Don’t forget to thank them for the info.
- Have the name of the place you are going to with you, written in Khmer and ask about pronunciation. If you ask for “Kompong Cham”, they won’t know what you are talking about, even if it is the capital of the province and they have lived here for 12 generations. You have to respect the pronunciation. Say “Kompong Chaaaaam”, without pointing your finger, always smiling.
- Leave equipped: a GPS can be very useful in case you don’t meet anyone. Remember to charge the battery well.
- A basic lexicon to communicate, in the Khmer alphabet, as they often cannot read the Latin alphabet.
- Address and telephone number of the hotel with someone to contact to get you back on track.
A positive attitude, a sincere smile opens all hearts
After fifteen kilometres, still no temple in sight. I ask my way five or six times and each time it is the same answer: it is not very far. Each time the destination is in the opposite direction to the previous one. Each time they laugh themselves to death.