Cambodia - Inter city bus of doom

After spending some time at the shocking killing fields of Phnom Penh, I set off on my trek North-East to Siem Reap where I would go explore the majestic ruins of Angkor Wat.

The bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is not for pansies. They told me it would only take six hours. They also told me the bus would be air conditioned and that they show movies on the way. I clearly booked the wrong bus.

It took so much longer than six hours and it felt like the bus driver was trying his best to avoid all main roads and highways.

As we left the city, we turned onto a gravel road which went on for about eight- of the “six” hour bus drive. The roads were full of potholes and we played “chicken” with the oncoming traffic for most of the way there. I was really stressed out by it at first but then I relaxed after a while because I was getting into this Cambodian movie (without subtitles) about a very depressed woman who collects Tupperware in her spare time (at least that is what I think it was about). But my relaxed state was very short lived because just as we were about halfway through the movie (at the part where she discovers her father was actually her younger brother) the bus ran something over. It was one of two things. It was either a very big dog or a very small horse.

The bus driver did not really seem very phased by it and I guess he just ticked it off as another victory in the daring game of “chicken” - or “horse” in this particular situation.

I could not relax for the rest of the way and I completely lost the plot of the cambodian movie that I was watching. I was even too scared to fall asleep, because I feared that the next time I wake up might be in a makeshift Cambodian hospital. I guess the one-armed baby in the seat in front of me sensed this and cried nonstop for the last 3 hours of our journey as to make sure that I do not doze off. How considerate of it.

This experience, and other similar encounters during my SE Asia travels, might not have been my favourite times, but they are most definitely the times that I will never forget.

A Van Niekerk

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