Tourist Bus vs. Local Bus

Trip Start Oct 30, 2012
Trip End May 30, 2013

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Where I stayed
Olly's Place Kampot
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Cambodia  , Khétt Kâmpôt,
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

We arranged our transport from the CBET office in Chi Phat, so everything was a breeze. Taxi ready to pick us up when we crossed the river only to drop us at the bus stop. No problem! So the bus was over a hour late, I'm sure everything will be OK and we won't miss our connection. We were in air conditioned comfort. No worry that the bus-boy was handing out puke bags to the people sitting next to us, that's happened on every bus so far...

When we were (again) the only ones getting off the bus for the transfer, I began to wonder. We were immediately swarmed by people selling food and drink and I couldn't see a rational place for a bus anywhere. Some money changed hands between the driver and the bus boy, who passed it onto a bi-stander who took us across the street and handed it to a woman standing near a mini van. Bags thrown in the back, in we climbed.

From that point on, we played a game of: how many people can we fit in a van? I thought we were doing extremely well when we left with 19 (including the driver and the money lady) especially considering that by North American standards, there were only 12 seats in that extend-a-van. We had babes in arms as well as small children standing in the spaces between adults squished together. Us Barangs were crammed in the back, and enjoyed relative comfort for at least the journey since no one wanted to sit next to us. But soon the situation changed and we were 4 across the 3 seats in the back. Still, the lady kept stopping to let more people in! A monk in the front, a sweaty old grandma in the middle, a middle-aged man practically on my lap. This woman was even kind enough to let a small boy climb in through one of the back windows and sit on top of the luggage, boxes and ducks that were in the back.

I'm telling you, this woman had a passion for travel! She knew that we all wanted to get somewhere, and she was going to do everything in her power to accomplish that goal! At one stop, it seemed that someone had previously come by inquiring about the bus, but was no longer there. I swore she was going to go back looking for them! At another stop, she graciously allowed a 20-something lady to sit on her lap. Another man squeezed in and she finally had to give up her seat and hung off the back of the moving vehicle. At last, the madness had stopped! But I think that was only because she could not longer adequately communicate with the driver to stop and collect more people.

Now, as comfortable as 23 Khemers and 2 Barangs piled into a mini-van sounds, I have yet to describe the Cambodian roads. They are paved. Or shall I say, were paved. Now there are a few stretches of smooth asphalt intermixed with gravely patches with pot holes the size of moon craters. Just when you finally get up to speed (for about 50 meters), the bus would slam on the breaks and swerve to avoid the worst of it while you were jostled over boulders avoiding oncoming traffic with a few honks. Amazingly, the Khemers on the bus seemed to enjoy sleeping through all of this.

Surprisingly, the hour and a half journey felt exactly like an hour and a half journey, if not longer. At every small development along the road, we prayed that it was Kampot, our destination. Needless to say, we got off at the first available stop and enjoyed the few kilometres walk to our guest house!

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Bethany Liesemer on

By far the funniest post yet!
Your writing is excellent, I felt like I was one of the people on the "bus"!
What an brilliant driver/money lady duo, they could rival the TTC at 5pm rush hour, that's for sure.

2totango on

Glad you enjoyed it! I needed something to think about to keep up my humour and my sanity from 'the edge' during the journey :)

Teresa on

I thought for one mad moment it was the driver who had someone on their lap.. and then gave up her seat to hang off the back - it sounded mad enough to be possible! But then reason set in and I realised it must be a conductor - haha, glad you got there!! x

Grant Craven on

Not a journey for the claustrophobic society. Next time drink a litre of water before the trip just to see what happens when you tell the driver you need a pee. "Use the window"!! Enjoying your travelogue

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