Highway to Hell : Chom Chau Road

How many of you skirt along a paddock on the way to your office that contains the remains of thousands of people put to death less than 40 years ago by a homicidal maniac ? Mostly by an axe to the back of the head.

None of you ? Figured as much.

I can go two ways to my office. The usual way I go is relatively sane by Cambodian standards. The road is good all the way and unless there is a wedding or a funeral tent on the road, things go smoothly for the most part. Occasionally at peak hour you will hit an intersection where things come unstuck as people rush to get home and show no common sense or courtesy. Cars will cut in front of each other to get across the intersection and have to stop, then motos keep coming and fill in the gaps like sand being poured into the cracks and then cars start going down the wrong side of the road and before you know it…..gridlock. The cops come along and start blowing whistles and before too long you are on your way. There is a huge new spaghjetti flyover ( our first ) being built midway along this route to deal with a huge intersection so thats going to be hell for a while but after things will be better.

Then there is Chom Chau Road AKA Highway to Hell AKA the worse fucking road in Cambodia BAR NONE. Jessssssssssssssssssssssssssssssus what a shiiiiiiit fight. This is basically the “back way” to my office and occasionally for some really insane reason my brain takes a huge fart in the morning and thinks ” god it cant be bad all the time ….it is 6.15am…..I will give it another go !” . Chom Chau road cuts from out west near the airport where the highway up from SIhanoukville terminates to the SW corner of Phnom Penh and then on to Vietnam via other roads. The road gets absolutely hammered all day long by the Freight and container trucks coming up from Sihanouk Port and as fast as they can repair the road it gets fucked again. It is dusty, gravely and has potholes that consume medium sized cars. This forces cars and trucks to jackknife all over the road in an attempt to navigate the road’s pit falls and here the fun begins. Now…..some years ago when this city started booming…..the town planners stuck dozens of huge garment factories way out on the “outskirts” of the city which….well…… aren’t outskirts anymore. So lets throw THOUSANDS ( and I do mean thousands ) of young girls walking to the factories at the side of the road 4 abreast linking arms for safety and then having to cross the road in groups of hundreds into the mix shall we ! Then we have the minions of morning shoppers out and about buying their fruit and veg at the local markets which are OH SO CONVENIENTLY located right on the fucking road and delivery trucks stopping randomly to drop off produce thereby creating bottlenecks. PLUSSSSSS we have Lexus drivers careening through crowds at 80kmh, freshy boys coming home from a night out in the beer gardens pissed as farts on their motos, buses, tractors and my pet hate – minibuses delivering Khmer kids to school who believe it is their Buddha given right to drive like total wankers ignoring everyone else on the road.



This morning I left the house at 6.25am sharp and luckily i was on the dirt bike with my car in for smash repairs as a result of Leakhana’s tussle with a tuk tuk. The first few kms was just pure madness motocross mayhem as I ducked and weaved and made my way towards the killing fields arterial road. I then cut through a toll road and onto Chom Chau and within minutes I see my first accident. Some dude on a scooter has managed to go under a truck and even though his scooter is totalled….he somehow is unhurt. It has only just happened so thankfully I manage to get past before the already gathering mass of gawking Khmer onlookers turns the scene into a complete traffic stop.


I am just thanking my lucky stars when I come up on another mass of people “WOOT WOOT” I am on high alert and I soon see the source of their interest. Two cops are beating the absolute shit out of a 20s something shirtless guy on a scooter. One is slapping him upside the face whilst holding him by his hair and the other cop is delivering rib shots with his baton. OUCH. The kid is covering up best he can but he is getting worked over big time. I am thinking he probably got caught stealing and with a crowd growing and knowing how that shit can go here ( brutal, fatal, fast ) I gunned it through the throng. It was then just a matter of navigating the sea of garment heads bobbing along and around 20 minutes later I arrived at the office. 20 minutes doesn’t sound long does it but trust me…..it seems a lot longer. I needed a good half hour to unclench my knuckles and relax ye olde sphincter muscles.

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1 Response to Highway to Hell : Chom Chau Road

  1. catherine says:

    love your post! i work on chom chao, way down all the way to the army headquarters, and this nightmare is what i have to go through twice a day, day in, day out… 😦

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