12 hours on the bus from Sieam Reap to Sihanoukville, Cambodia

We are up at 5:30 am, which I actually quite enjoy in tropical countries, with the awakening people and wildlife, and we are on the mini-bus by 6:30. That leads us the to the big bus terminal outside of town, which I remember from last year, and we’re onto the big bus by 7am. This bus company, Panorama, seem very organised. We have been allocated seat numbers, and our bags have been tagged with a number, airline style. We settle into our seats as the bus pulls away from Siem Reap. We are sorry to leave, it’s a lovely town, but I was tiring a little, I don’t think Abby was. There are a lot of hassle in Siem Reap/Cambodia for tourists, and I can grow tired of that fairly quickly. It’s also too expensive. Cambodia’s tourist inflation is too high, it will damage their tourist economy very soon. Thailand is cheaper, much more organised, cleaner and more developed. I actually long for Thailand a little now. But, the main problem with Siem Reap was that the road outside our lovely guest house was mud, and not sealed, just like 95% of the roads in Cambodia. This is hardly a surprise when you consider that Cambodia is one of the world’s least developed countries. Having a dirt road makes for interesting watching as we go or return to the guest house. But, when it rains (torrential tropical rain, everyday) the road turns to a lake, and it’s basically not possible to walk down. We are the only people who try to walk down it. The locals certainly don’t, using only bicycles or motorbikes to make the journey. So, this sort of leaves us captive in out guest house when it rains, which is annoying. Anyway, after about 6 hours on the bus we arrive in Phnom Pehn. The bus office is outside of town, and away from the central market, which although interesting would have been really hectic. We wait in the office for an hour as crowds of people form and the jump onto waiting buses. Finally it’s our turn and the bus heading for Sihanoukville arrives. We jump on and take our allocated seats. There is quite some confusion as the bus company then start to pile on loads of extra Cambodia people, who I guess are making the journey whilst paying very little. A British couple give up their comfy seats to Cambodian’s, leaving the Brits to sit on some uncomfortable make-shift seats. They did this as their ticket agent did not book them through to Sihanoukville. However, the Brits failed to realise that they have probably paid 2-3 times as much for their tickets as the Cambodian’s, and that the bus was hopelessly over-loaded with people anyway. They should have taken the seats they have paid for. If the bus company and their agents cannot sort out their ticketing system, then tourists paying a premium for their tickets should not be expected to rectify the problem for them. The journey from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville is unadventurous. We do get to see some great mountain landscapes, which are a great contrast from the very flat north of the country. It gets dark as we realise the ‘3 hour’ journey quoted by an American lad will be closer to 5 hours. We arrive at the bus station and the chaos continues. Here in Cambodia groups of tourists cause carnage. In Cambodia’s neighbouring countries it does not. Do I sound tired of Cambodia yet? The thieving tuk-tuk drivers want $4 for the ride across town, which is a rip-off and I take pleasure in telling them this. The ride should be $1, perhaps $2 at night. A end up securing a taxi driven by a very nice man for $3. A much better option than a a tuk-tuk. On the drive to our guest house we pass a tuk-tuk loaded with 4 Americans from the bus. We are checked in and Abby is in the shower by the time they make it to the same guest house as us. Abby stays in whilst I check out what is outside. It seems like a nice little spot. The loud music is not ideal, but we were expecting it. It’s been a long day….

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