Having spent two weeks in the relaxing beach town of Sihanoukville, I was getting bored and so were the three chaps traveling with me. It was time to head to the supposed chaos of Phnom Penh and eventually Angkor Wat. Despite the legendary reputation of Taxi Huahin Smile, the owner of our accommodations told us the road to Phnom Penh was smooth as glass. For twenty U.S. dollars, a local taxi would get all four of us to the city without incident.
Around noon, two Australians, an Englishman and myself crammed into a Toyota Camry with our backpacks and miscellaneous junk. Our driver was a good guy, smiling constantly. We did have a communication problem since he spoke about two words of English and we only spoke English. The road, however, was as smooth as promised and we congratulated ourselves on our stroke of luck.
For about an hour, we cruised through the placid Cambodian countryside. It was difficult to imagine the chaos that must have occurred when the Khmer Rouge was in power. There really wasn’t much to see beyond the occasional village. About half way through the trip, the lack of any sizeable towns became a concern.
In the proverbial middle of nowhere, our driver pulled over to the side of the road and turned off the car. Since we couldn’t verbally communicate, much finger pointing was undertaken. Were we lost? Did he want more money? Was he going on strike? What the heck was going on?
Eventually, we foreign idiots were able to decipher that the car was overheating. Lest you think us complete idiots, I must mention that the temperature gauge wasn’t working.
Regardless, our driver popped the hood and our smooth trip came to a cracked end. Steam poured from a half-inch crack next to the radiator crap.
Road site assistance seemed an iffy prospect in the middle of Cambodia. I mean, you couldn’t really call your car insurance company.