Cambodia Taxi A Leaf A Radiator And A Mac Gyver Moment

Cambodia Taxi A Leaf A Radiator And A Mac Gyver Moment



The roads in​ Cambodia are vicious,​ angry slabs of​ asphalt filled with potholes that would qualify as​ valleys in​ some countries. Fortunately,​ I had it​ made traveling from Sihanoukville to​ Phnom Penh. or​ so I thought.

Cambodian Taxis

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​ Cambodian roads,​ 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.

Me: “Hi. My car is​ broken.”

Operator: “Okay,​ we will send someone out. Where are you?”

Me: “Um,​ somewhere in​ the​ middle of​ Cambodia.”

Operator: “…[hysterical laughter]… Click.”

The driver looked at​ us. We looked at​ him. Simultaneously,​ we all started laughing. What else could you​ do? We were in​ the​ middle of​ nowhere,​ the​ radiator was shot and it​ was 60 miles or​ so to​ Phnom Penh.

Looking back,​ I can tell you​ that Cambodian taxi drivers are a​ committed and creative group. We sat on​ the​ side of​ the​ road,​ contemplating the​ fact that we were about to​ have a​ much more authentic Cambodian experience then any of​ us had planned. Mysteriously,​ our driver had gone off into the​ brush on​ the​ side of​ the​ road. After a​ few minutes,​ he returned with a​ dark green leaf and a​ big smile.

Putting MacGyver to​ shame,​ he proceeded to​ patch the​ crack in​ the​ radiator using only the​ leaf and tube of​ superglue. We all moved back as​ he applied the​ superglue to​ the​ boiling hot radiator,​ but nothing went up in​ flames. After allowing for a​ suitable amount of​ time for drying/praying,​ all we needed was water.

Although admittedly not a​ car expert,​ I do know pouring cold water into the​ radiator of​ an​ overheating engine is​ a​ bad idea. MacGyver,​ err… our driver,​ didn’t bat an​ eye despite our extensive arm waving. With a​ big smile,​ the​ water went into the​ radiator as​ we watched in​ horror. the​ only question was what would happen first,​ the​ leaf patch bursting or​ the​ engine seizing up?

Well,​ you​ can guess how it​ turned out. Not only did we make it​ to​ Phnom Penh,​ we later learned the​ radiator had two other leaf patches on​ the​ bottom. the​ road had been smooth,​ but my nerves were still shot. One way or​ another,​ the​ roads of​ Cambodia will get you.

At least I have ample ammunition to​ mock MacGyver fans.




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