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05 Apr 2002

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We had our first brief encounter with the law today, Cambodian style. We were on our way to the hairdressers in town when a traffic policeman waved us down as we rounded a corner. Our driver didn't seem to think he meant it, so he carried on, but a pair of cops chased us on a motor bike and pulled us over. They were only interested on talking to our driver, even though we all got out of the car. A long conversation ensued and much checking of licenses and IDs. After a while I gauged that the policeman was not angry or pushy and had no intention of issuing a ticket, so I suggested to Ming that we leave them to it for a while. Since we were already near the hairdressers we went inside, but kept a wary eye on the proceedings near to the car. Sure enough, the matter was settled by the gift of one American dollar for a packet of cigarettes. Apparently, we had driven down a one-way street, but there was no sign for it - it's only one way when the police are around! This encounter was not about controlling traffic - as in many developing countries, the police are so badly paid that they cannot survive without such "voluntary" donations from the general public...