Up early and we pack for the bus to Bangkok. I have read many horror stories of this journey. Apparently an airline has been paying a Cambodian official to stall the modernisation of the road to the Thai border. So the road remains unsealed and slow.
Our guesthouse tuk-tuk drops us to the bus at 08:15. The bus is packed, and everyone’s luggage is in the isle running down the bus, as there is no proper luggage storage. We jump in and find seats; at least they haven’t over sold the tickets.
We get going and we find the road isn’t actually too bad. It’s a bit bumpy in places, but is nowhere near as bad as the roads in Nepal or India. In fact the worst bits are where the bus makes a detour around the works where bridges are being constructed.
We stop several times on the trip, maybe a bit too much. We get to the border and we make it easily, albeit fairly slowly, out of Cambodia and into Thailand. This is our last land border crossing, and our last country of the trip.
Through customs we find our bus company and wait just over an hour with drinks and sandwiches. It’s quite pleasant to be in Thailand, sitting in the shade. The time goes really quickly. We notice a young Thai boy, about 10 years old, collecting plastic bottles and cans. We give him ours, and notice he has ink on his face. He is a funny lad who catches my attention. We watch him interact with a few people, and it seems he may have some learning difficulties. I notice the staff from the bus company looking out for him. I them realise that he looks quite similar to my nephew at home. This makes me feel very sad. I have seen so much poverty on this trip, from Nepal, India, Indonesia and Cambodia, but I haven’t found it so difficult to deal with. Yet today, when a young lad reminds me of my own nephew, I feel very affected. We watch the lad and see that many of our fellow travellers are giving him food; chicken, biscuits, noodles and water. He is well looked after I think. I don’t know his story, but he seems to be here on his own, and whilst his clothes are old, they look fairly clean. He doesn’t hang around with the big gang of kids we have seen fighting for money when people give them coins. He collects bottles and sits with the western travellers. He comes over to us and we share smiles with him. We notice he has quite a large belly, a good size for his age, and especially a Thai. We give him our drink and he smiles, walks away and has his drink.
I’m still feeling sad when we get onto the bus. I think about the lad and my nephew some more. I also think of the monthly donation I make at home to the NSPCC. I am looking forward to going home and seeing my family again.
It’s good to be back in Thailand, where the buses are modern and clean. But, we have loved Cambodia, it is sad to leave there.
The bus gets us to Bangkok in good time. We ignore the touts and find a nice hotel room.