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Sunday, February 8: 16-Hour Bus Ride to Cambodia, aka, The Worst and Shittiest (Literally) Ride in the History of Our Lives

Bus to Phnom Penh - Look at how miserable everbody looks

We were forewarned by the Lonely Planet that the ride from Laos to Cambodia would be rough, with many random transfers and stops.  Online, travelers told nightmarish tales of endless waits, buses breaking down, random shuffling and reshuffling of passengers, etc.

I will spare you the details, and jump to around 5pm, almost 12 hrs after we started our journey, 3 transfers later and bags literally falling on people’s heads, a bus full of big white people crammed into seats made for tiny Asian passengers.  The smallness of the seats was exarcebated by the fact that they were also using the bus to transport wood, which they layed under all of our seats.  We had been told that we would arrive in Phnom Pehn anytime between 7, 8, 9 and 10, so news of another 6 hrs of travel were not welcomed by the passengers.

7:45ish – It starts getting darker, and we find ourselves driving in the dark.  No lights inside.  No lights outside.  We aredriving in PITCH BLACK!  Now,  I don’t know about you, but being on a bus where I can’t see anything outside or inside, where the driver can’t see anything either, and when other cars/trucks/motorcycles can’t see you there, tends to make me pretty scared for dear life.  They simply tell us that the lights are broken and continue driving on.  Passengers start getting uneasy as more and more cars come head on towards us.  In the meantime, it becomes apparent that the bus driver can’t see squat, as we find ourselves driving either in the middle of the road, or on the shoulder, close to the ditch.

8:30 – As more and more passengers realize that the ride is turning into quite a dangerous ride, we get the bus driver to stop.  We find out the light problem extends to the door, because now the door is shut and nobody can get out.  The bus driver helper jumps out of the window and props the door open.  We call the bus company manager and he basically tells us that if the bus is running and we have flashlights we can drive another 20 min to a restaurant while he sends out another bus to rescue us.  A Frenchie named Greg takes a vote and the majority of the 20+ passengers decides that we should continue on to the restaurant.  No lights and all.

20 min turns into 45 min and we are in for quite a joy ride with people passing us left and right, coming towards us head on, and shining their brights on us while inside, two passengers pathetically hold up two flashlights near the dashboard and the driver continues his blind driving.  Murmurs turn into screams and our fear of death grows.

10:30 – We pull over to the restaurant and as expected, the bus is not there yet.  We eat and 45 min later, the “new” bus arrive. The bus driver and his helper start tinkering with the batteries, etc.  The passengers move all the bags to the second bus and we are all excited to finally leave.

10:45 – Our jubilation is short-lived as we step onto the bus and realize that it smells like shit.  Literally.  Diesel makes a stunning revelation, confessing that it was HIM who stepped on dog shit and dragged it into the bus.  On board, people have their hands over their noses, scarves tied around their heads, others yet, have their heads out of the window gasping for air.  One of the Ozzies starts spraying his AXE deodorant all over the bus, and we all thank him.  Unfortunately for me, I have to ride for the next 1.5 hrs next to Diesel and his shoe full of shit.

10:45 pm – 12ish am – We finally drive off, only to find out that the “new”bus is just as shitty and decrepit as the first one.  We have problems with the cooling system and for the next 75km the bus driver stops periodically and waits for the bus to cool down

12:30am – we finally arrive in Phnom Pehn

NOTE FOR DIESEL – please buy me a PLANE ticket should there be any more signs of upcoming bus rides from hell.

After driving in the dark for an hour, passengers revolt and demand to stop


3 Responses

  1. Wow, I am surprised they didn’t vote to leave Diesel behind with his shit shoe… or to make him leave the shoes behind or strap it onto the bus… Sounds like a hell of a ride.

  2. Totally good point TPP! I’m surprised they didn’t strap Diesel to the roof of the death-teasing bus!

  3. […] meal of our lives),  “The Big-Mouthed Vietnamese – Part 2,” our death defying “16-Hour Bus Trip to Cambodia,” and the stressful trip on the “Sawngthaew.”  Hope you guys […]

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