Pyrrhic victories for a buck a pop. There was a bit of a Mexican stand-off last
week in Siem Reap. A bunch of western tourists balked at paying the newly instituted
$1 charge to be ferried in a small boat to the bigger fast ferry waiting off shore,
arguing that their $25 fast-boat fee included the transfer charge. For 30 minutes
they held their ground with the ferry captain who wouldn't budge. In the end pick-up
trucks showed up and drove the folks across the lake bed to the waiting fast boat
ïï A couple of UNDP staffers in Phnom Penh, befuddled by the labyrinthine
nature of the development agency's bureaucracy, say they have taken to reading and
studying the comic strip "Dilbert" to help them better understand and appreciate
how the system works.
ïï A reporter who attended the 30th anniversary celebrations in Ho Chi Minh city
on April 30 was hoping to secure a direct email hook-up in his hotel room.
"Oh, very dificult, very complicated, sir," replied the concierge. "Government
regulations! Very strict. Many rules. No, no! Not possible!"
The reporter wondered aloud if a Mr Benjamin Franklin could help sort out the red
"Oh yes. Maybe. Let me check." Five minutes later Mr Franklin had the journalist
plugged in direct bedside-to-cyberspace.
ïï A visitor returning from a stint in Indonesia relates that the new Indonesian
President, Abdurrahman Wahid, is retaining his sense of humor amid all the strife
in the unsettled archipelago. Gus Dur was asked how the relationship was holding
up with his new vice president and responded: "We're getting by. I can't see,
but she can't talk."
ïï The scuttlebut from Hollywood is that Meg Ryan has been selected for the lead
role in Oliver Stone's upcoming retrospective movie about romance and intrigue in
the Thai border refugee camps.
ïï One foreigner who obviously does not respect the rule of law (but probably regularly
complains about the impunity problem) was motoring up from the river towards the
train station, and after he broke the law by taking a left turn on Monivong the coppers
pulled him over.
The quick-thinking lad tried to offer the constables 2000 riel for a fast getaway,
but they would have none of it.
No, no, no they explained. Bribes were now out. Their boss had laid down the law.
The newly prescribed punishment: Stand in front of the "No Left Turn" sign
and look at it for 30 minutes so the same mistake won't be made twice.