Saturday, December 12, 2009

Get on the bus, Gus

Well, now that I've been out of Cambodia for a few days and my head has cleared I can finally discuss the trials and tribulations of trying to leave that godforsaken place. So, 2 choices, the first consists of - catching a taxi to the bus terminal, bus to Phnom Phen, taxi from the bus terminal to the airport, waiting at the airport, catching a bus from the terminal to the plane, flying, customs in Bangkok, taxi to the hotel. Second, shuttle bus to the end of the street to board a bus to the border, customs, then another bus from the border to Bangkok followed by a taxi. So you think, Oh my Buddha option 2 sounds so much better. Ha. Ha. Ha.

The bus had no toilet, it's a four hour ride and we stopped once. Luckily I drank almost no water so while lack of toilet wasn't an issue, dehrydation in 32C heat was. Crossing the border consists of actually getting off the bus, carrying all your luggage through Customs and Immigration, waking across a bridge to sit and wait for another bus. Why the walking? I don't know as I'll never be doing it again I could honestly care less at this point. We sat at a restaurant for 4 hours, yes, 4 hours because the air conditioning broke on the bus and as the very nice, polite and incredibly apologetic lady at the travel agency said, "we would have put you on the bus with no aircon but the bus's windows don't open". Good call there not to have 50 tourists bake in a tin can travelling 100km an hour down the highway to arrive in Bangkok desiccated like shrivelled mummies.

You think it couldn't get worse than a four hour wait? Well, we had the slowest bus driver possible. My seatmate, a very charming and interesting young man from Holland, was keeping track of how many buses exactly like ours were passing us. He was calling out the numbers til he got bored with that. I tried teaching him that old song we'd sing on the school bus "old bus driver, speed up a little bit, speed up a little bit" but we got bored of that too. The trip finally ended 13 hours after we left Siem Reap. It would have been 12 but we got stuck in traffic in Bangkok which was gridlocked due to celebrations for the King's birthday.

On a positive note I cashed in some airmiles and stayed at a real hotel. One with a doorman, elevators, more towels than I need and a bed that was actually comfortable. It was just a Best Western but I thought I'd checked into the Four Seasons after the guesthouses and hotels I've been staying at on this trip. So I'm in Pattaya now, with a head cold but hey, I'd rather have a head cold in Thailand where it's clean, the food is good, the people are polite and there is a nice breeze from the ocean than ever, ever going back to Cambodia.

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