Voices of Phnom Penh #3

Voices of Phnom Penh is inspired by "Humans of New York" and wants to give a voice to a selection of Phnom Penh citizens whose voice may not be often heard in public sphere. In particular, these inspiring citizens of Cambodia’s capital are usually not the center of public attention. This hbs photo project aims at providing a platform of telling their stories, thoughts and dreams.

Reading time: 3 minutes

Chanthon, 46, Motorcycle Taxi Driver

I have been a motodup driver since 2000. I had small businesses before but renting places have become more and more expensive, so I wanted to become a motodup driver. At first, these were playful thoughts only.

Some people are happy for me. But some people look down on me. Western people don’t care about this but when it comes to Khmer men, they don’t want women to work as a motodup driver. They think that women are weak. But I’m not weak. I can drive 10 people if they all fit. I don’t care about the opinions of other people. I think about my family and my life. I earn money for my family. I also have Khmer clients, but they are the minority. I have more Western customers, and some weigh up to 100 kilograms. My regular customers know me from websites as I have been interviewed by the the media such as VOA. Sometimes they meet me where wait for my clients at the same spots. My income decreases year by year as many people drive with PassApp and Grab now. I earn between 80.000 to 100.000 Riel. If I earn 100.000 Riel I can live for one day. I have 2 sons; they are 21 and 16 years old. I am divorced from my husband since 2002.

I was a little bit afraid of robbers and traffic accidents before I started this job, especially traffic accidents. People in the traffic don’t really follow the rules. They don’t stop at traffic lights. Cars are cutting off. It’s very difficult to change the habits. 

I really want more women to become taxi driver. But many women don’t think like I do. Working under the sun is difficult. Some say: You just drive around to collect someone’s money. But as driver I know what I want and what I do.