Our VIP coach seats on our first bus journey in Cambodia
Our journey from 4000 Islands started with an early morning boat ride to the mainland followed by a bus trip to the Laos/Cambodian border. We had heard that this border crossing could be a little difficult as it was common for immigration officials to demand ”fees” for stamping your passport and for other administrative tasks that are just part of their day job. At the time it seemed very important to ensure that we didn’t pay a dollar more than the official fee. However, in retrospect the small amounts of cash they were demanding were so insignificant they were barely worth thinking about especially taking into account that most Cambodian government employees only earn between $1-2 a day! Besides, this turned out to be the least of our frustrations that day.
After a smooth border crossing we were expecting a short wait for our connecting VIP bus to take us to Banlung in the Northeast of Cambodia. Our short wait, turned out to be a 3 hour wait in the midday sun! When they did finally start loading passengers onto the bus that had been sitting there the whole time (!! ) it turned out that we were 2 of
We were the lucky ones for some it was just bums on floor
only 4 people travelling to Banlung and we were, therefore, told to wait to get on the bus last as ours was the first destination. Seems sensible right? However, not so great when it dawned on us that the bus was already full, well all the seats were taken, but there was plenty of aisle space plus small plastic stools, for the lucky ones to perch their bums on!!! Lucky for us we got stools and even luckier, we only had to sit on them for 1 hour unlike some others who had a further 8 hours til they reached their destination. Our trials and tribulations didn’t end there as the next thing we knew was that we had been unceremoniously dumped on the side of the road and told to wait for our next bus which would arrive “in a bit”?!
We were taken in by a friendly street cafe owner who kept us fed and watered while we waited and even cut up some unknown Cambodian fruit for us to try. After waiting for two hours with no sign of a bus we were starting to get a little concerned as the day was drawing to a
The girls clambering over the motorbike in the aisle of our second bus in Cambodia
close and we had no idea where we were plus the friendly café owner couldn’t speak any English to fill in the gaps. Another half hour later a bus finally arrived and we were able to claim the last four seats, the only obstacle was a motorbike in the aisle that we had to clamber over to get to them. We settled into the journey looking forward to arriving at our hotel for a cold drink and a meal, but the day’s events weren’t quite over yet…the bus got a flat tyre! A limp to the garage and a few hours later we arrived in Banlung with 2 new friends, all of us exhausted after 12 hours of travelling with only 5 hours actually on a moving bus!
It was with these 2 new friends, Alessa and Marie, and Felix who we met in a bar, that we set out on a 3 trek into the Cambodian jungle (with the guides as well of course). We spent the next few days hiking through bamboo forests, dry paddy fields, villages and banana groves, taking trips in very leaky boats, bathing in waterfalls, playing football and volleyball on a disappearing sandbar,
The trek begins...
sleeping in hammocks and eating rice with vegetables for every meal! We had a great time, and especially enjoyed visiting a local village where we played with the would-be school children (if there was a teacher employed in the school to teach them). This was a really special experience and a memory from our travels we will always cherish.
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