The Poipet-Phenom Penh bus ride beats them all!
The bus ride from Poipet; a Cambodian border town with Thailand, to Phnom Penh is the worst bus ride... so far.
It’s worse than the minivan ride to and from Pai, Thailand with its famous road of 762 curves that almost made me sick and the guy next to me told me to think of it as a race, which I don’t know how it was supposed to make me feel any better? The bubblegum my mom told me to get before the ride saved me (my mom is always right)
It’s worse than the bus ride from Mombasa to Lamu, Kenya on the unpaved, bumpy dirt road with no AC just a big window from way above your head to your knee so of course with every bump you’re getting free red dust makeup on your face.
It’s worse than the 11-hour night boat to Koh Tao, Thailand with the numbered mattresses on the floor shoulder-to-shoulder. When I first stepped on the boat, took off my shoes and climbed some steps to find a sea of kitschy looking mattresses. Lights go off at 12 am so you’ll eventually find yourself sleeping in whatever position you decide to take on that mattress… probably with a quarter of someone’s body on yours if they don’t match up to the Thai measurements.
It’s worse than the speed ferry from Koh Tao to Chumphon, Thailand where we were basically a toy in the mighty sea waves jumping and skipping some. If you don’t get seasick the sight of those who are with their non-moving bodies lying restless on their side or to a wall or running to a bathroom will make you fight the urge of joining them. I headed out to the deck and turned my face towards the sea, away from the people, and let my imagination trace the lines of the blue waves.
It’s worse than the 12-hour train ride to Aswan where the only free seats were the ones next to the bathroom. My friends and I almost kept record of who went to the bathroom, for how long and the number of times. Some roaches kept us entertained as well.
This bus ride is the worst because we are being cooked inside this hot moving container with no windows and the barely working AC just stopped, adding to that the stuffy food smell. Some took their shirts off while my Cambodian neighbor lent me his notebook to fan myself. I liked him more before he decided to become a DJ and play music out loud from his phone. The number of stops seem countless like the seats that seem to have no limit since they got out plastic chairs and put them in the aisle for more soon-to-be-suffering passengers to join this BBQ party. After some lighting show from the sky, it started raining and now I’m sticking my arm to the window to feel some of the cold breeze outside. During one of the stops the conductor lent me some of the air coming from a little white fan he was carrying… And another checked on me possibly thinking it was my first time to see a squat toilet.
Cambodians seem to like getting friendly with each other so there’s this big chatter; one at the back might yell something, another in the front would comment and others would join and laugh. It feels like one crappy road trip with family members that you haven’t seen in ages and everyone is catching up and you were just forced to come along. I was the only non-Cambodian on board, wonder if it’s because I took a not-so-common bus company that scammed me or was it just the low season?
I don’t know how I feel sleepy with all of this, I amaze myself sometimes.
I was supposed to find myself in Phnom Penh at 9 P.M. but that 7 hour bus ride stretched to 13 hours and I was safe and sound on a bed at 3.30 AM.