13 Hour Bus Ride

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

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Flag of Cambodia  , Ratanakiri Province,
Saturday, November 24, 2012

Woke up at 3am to shower, pack and get ready to meet our pick-up for the bus at 4:30am. A little niggle went off in the back of my head when booking this bus. I mean, at 4:30 in the morning, none of our gues house staff are around. Neither is anyone at the bus ticket office where we booked. We just get to stand around in the dark along the side of the road, hoping that communication lines have not crossed.

As could be predicted, 4:30 comes and goes, as does 4:40 and 4:45. A few intrepid tuk-tuk drivers come along to see if we need a ride, but when they find out that we have bus tickets, they are fine to wait with us. Soon I become a bit antsy. We were told to be waiting at 4:30 and that our bus leaves at 5...what to do? As time ticks on, one of the tuk-tuk drivers offers to call the bus company, but cannot get a signal. Right when we're at the point of hiring a tuk-tuk, the mini bus pulls in with the pick-up. While collecting the other passengers, we found a few others who were feeling the same as we were and actually had their tuk-tuk past the corner and had to turn around to go back for the mini-bus. I guess the pick-up was BETWEEN 4:30 and 5 with a recommended time of 5 to be at the bus station (bus wasn't actually scheduled until 5:30). I guess communication lines were crossed...

At least it was a real sized bus and didn't have the air conditioning blasting. Mercifully, they decided against blasting the disco music at 5:30 am as well.

13 hours is a long time, and we did cover a lot of distance. But it's not really the distance that makes these bus trips long, it's the state of the roads. Top speed must be 50 or 60km/hr with lots of stops and swerves around bumpy sections, dogs and chickens. So much dust on the road kicked up into the luggage hold and covered our bags. I was wondering why some people had their rain covers on for the bus journey.

Most of the trip is just a blur of reading and drifting in and out of sleep...But I have noticed that landscape has changed. We've crossed to the east side of the Mekong river. More evidence of farming and trees mean wooden homes as opposed to grass covered. New corrugated metal roofs rather than rusted must mean that the attempts at farming are paying off.

I think we'll veg out for a few days before our next epic bus trip up into Laos.

A new expression has entered our everyday vocabulary: as slow as a bus in Cambodia.

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