Published: December 5th 2009November 23rd 2009
Siem Reap to Sihanoukville
Innovative seating arrangements...
The following entry is a detailed description of our trip for the benefit of fellow travellers. The day went surprisingly quickly and just after 7pm Teresa and I along with two fellow travellers were finding a way to fit with our luggage into a tuk-tuk to take us to the bus pick up point. We booked our tickets on the Virak-Buntham Express Tour & Travel and were pleased as we settled on to a bus exactly as advertised; large seats, reclining, lots of leg room, movie showing (although it was already half way through). We were lucky and occupied the last two seats together. The lights went off completely at around 9.30 and we could no longer read so we decided to settle down to sleep. However, we were awake and aware the bus made two stops in the next three hours and a few people got off to buy drinks. At 1.15am we arrived in Phnom Penh and were shocked to find another 10-15 people were trying to board our already full bus. We were half asleep so we didn’t realise until later that only three of them managed to get seats on the bus and the rest of them had to get into the luggage compartment in the bottom of the bus, which must have been pitch black and very claustrophobic. We slept until 3.30am when we awoke to confusion on the bus and people getting off and on to another bus. We were surprised as we were in the middle of nowhere. I ran ahead and left Victoria to gather our belongings as we needed to ensure our seats on the new bus. I was extremely lucky in finding two seats right at the back of the older, smaller, less comfortable bus. However, there were still people boarding the bus at that point. Victoria joined me with the hand luggage and left to check our back packs had been successfully transferred. That was when we realised how many tickets they had over sold by, bearing in mind we had already paid $17 for the ‘luxury’ and ‘comfort’ it advertised back in Siem Reap. Victoria heard a girl crying and saying ‘no please, I can’t go back down there’ she was referring to the luggage compartment which she had already spent two hours travelling in. The seats were all full so people started filling out the isle of the bus, some on the floor and some on plastic chairs which were suddenly provided. Our seats were uncomfortable enough with the air conditioning blowing at us from an inch away but we only had another three and half hours to endure. We don’t know if the bus genuinely broke down or if this same thing happens every day of the week. Once we were off the bus we negotiated with a tuk-tuk driver to take us to the Serendipity beach where we knew there were many guest houses and places we could at least have breakfast. The driver took us to GST Guest House which, even after researching the area for something better was very cheap to stay in and had large rooms with a sea view. In summary, the trip was not one that we would recommend with that bus company although we can count ourselves lucky that we didn’t have to travel in the luggage compartment! If you are looking for a good company we recommed the Mekong Express - we travelled with them on a different route and they were great.