Backpacking SouthEast Asia

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Kampot, Kep, and Sihanoukville. Day 9

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For details of the places I visited in Kampot, Kep, and Sihanoukville, with GPS Coordinates, see my book Kampot, Kep and Sihanoukville.

Last day of my trip around Sihanoukville. Got up early and booked a ticket on a sleeper bus from Sihanoukville to Siem Reap. I have heard horror stories about them, and decided to give it a go. I mean, how bad can it be? And then I remember the bus I passed when I started this trip. Gulp.

I love my oats and brought some with, as it also saves a bit of money. After a nice bowl of oats, I drive around town a bit and walk around the market, then find a gold mine. A shop selling sandwiches, wine, and chocolate ice cream. I am so saved. Not the wine, the ice cream. I would go for vanilla out of desperation, but being able to get chocolate ice cream, oh man.

I decided to go and see one of the beaches again, and had a nice early lunch on the beach. Luckily the two stroke wave runners that everyone talks about that pollutes the air, were not running.

 

I drive around a bit after lunch and spot this interesting shrine, right across from a casino.

 

Not too many of these statues around on display.

After some more driving around i spot a small beach and manage to snap this picture of some one else’s bike.

 

Going around to some of the more secluded beaches I find this little spot, complete with a boat would you wish to sail away. I was tempted to sail to Cayman and say hi to the people there, really I was.

As it is getting late, I head back to the bike shop, return the bike and get my passport. From there i make another stop at one of the dive shops in the road. Now in Cambodia, if you want to tell customers you are better than another dive shop, you just put up a sign with your air quality.

Nice to know you get clean air. Note, the date on the sign is the test date, I visited the place in October 2014.

From the dive shop I decide to get an early dinner, as well as a sandwich for the road as it is an overnight bus. There is a subway like shop in the backpacker road, so I get my self a foot long sandwich and have them divide it in half and wrapped separately. The foot long actually turned out to be two single rolls, so it worked out nicely.

 

From the sandwich shop it is around 2 miles to the travel agent, and my bus is to pick me up in just over two hours. Thus I slowly make my way to the travel agent. However, I arrive there way ahead of time. Hanging around with nothing to do, I start writing on my iPad at the one travel agent’s desk. I think I must have annoyed her, as she gives me a place at one of the computer terminals they rent out, for free. Using Dropbox for syncing, it is easy for me to swap devices and keep on working on the same files. Thus I continue to write. My backpack with my waterproof motorcycle rain jacket is under the table in front of me as I hammer away at the keys.

About 10 minutes before my scheduled pickup point, a lady comes over to me and urges me to run for my bus. I grab my backpack and stuff may rain jacket in one of the side straps and head for the door. At the door, the lady points to a bus around 300 meters down the road, ready to pull away. Hurry hurry, your bus leave. She goes. I run my ass of while waving as the bus driver gets into the bus. With an annoyed look he waits for me. In the run, I pull my ticket from my cargo pants side pocket and hold it out to the driver as I hop into the bus.

“Wrong bus.” He goes and hands my ticket back. Biting my lip i slowly get off the bus and join a number of other backpackers waiting alongside the road, at another travel agent. By now it is dark and it starts to rain. I watch as my wrong bus pulls away, and then reach for my rain jacket. My heart drops to my feet. My rain jacket is gone. I throw a glance to the road up to the other travel agent, but without proper street lights, I can see nothing. The bus is by now so far away, that had i lost it on the bus, it is too late. I start to slowly walk up the road to see if I lost it on the run down, just as another bus pulls up. The conductor calls for all people to get in the bus as they are apparently late. At a crossroad now, i way my options. A bus ticket is $24 and the jacket was $50 and is my best and only rain jacket I have, but I have no idea if it is not maybe on the other bus.

With a heavy heart I turn around and head to the bus. I loved that jacket. Bought it in Saigon when I did the Vietnam ride, and it has served me well. Maybe one day, when I can go to Saigon again, I will replace it. I hand my large backpack to the driver to put into the cargo hold, and keep my small backpack with my wallet and iPad with me. The bus is a sleeper bus, but make no mistake, it is by no means comfy. Basically you have the size of a normal bus seat for each person to sleep in, with two people sleeping side by side. A narrow corridor that you negotiated sideways, runs the length of the bus. My bed is a bottom bunk, and is actually on the floor. The top bunk above me is so low, that to get in, I have to go down on my hands and knees, and then almost roll in.

However, I am to not share my space with one person, oh no, in standard Cambodian way, I share it with two. A dad and his kid. Nice people, but really no space for two, let alone three.

It is something different to lie on a floor with a piece of glass next to you that your are squished against. I was just hoping the window does not break or pop out. Now, as riding on a bus and also and airplane goes. The more difficult it is to get to a restroom, the more your bladder wants to go. I was however thankful of the arctic ice wind coming from the aircon, as the bus smelled of urine. Luckily, before my bladder was to burst, we made a rest stop. 15 minutes we are told. The bus company was nice enough to give each of us a plastic bag to put our shoes in, so that we do not bring mud into the bus and onto the bedding, however since my shoes are hiking boots, it takes me about 5 minutes to get it on and lased up. So I just push the lases into the side of the boots and go with it. While the other people get overpriced rice and chicken dishes, I sit down to enjoy my sandwich. As I unroll it, my mind wonders if maybe I should not get and overpriced meal. Never have them put tomato on a sandwich if you are not going to eat it immediately. I pick up the soggy bread, close my eyes and go for it. There is almost no need to wash it down with water.

Soon we are back in the bus, and we cut through the darkness with constant honking of the bus driver and other drivers as they narrowly miss each other and play the game of chicken on the death road. (Section between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap at night). I sleep a bit easier, knowing that being right by the window, maybe I will get thrown through the window in and accident and make it. I hook my backpack around my shoulder so it goes with me if I go though the window. As the miles drift by, my bladder fills up. I think there must be some sync between guys, as I start to hear whispers of “any one else need a toilet” followed by yes, and me too. Ganging up, we ask the driver to stop, and reluctant he pulls over alongside a small roadside market with a few stalls. I think it was around 4 am or something. I ask the driver where the toilet is, and he just shrugs his shoulders. Desperately i scan the small structures as I make my way though the silent market to the back. Eventually, not being able to hold it anymore, I select a desolated semi dark area and slip it out. Just as I am about to let the full force of my Jedi wand go, a soft voice asks behind me. “Did you find a toilet.” “Nope.” I manage to get out as tears fill my eyes while I clench my jaw. “Oh sorry.” The girl says and scurries away while glowing red hot. Relieve floods my body as I let go. Just as I relax, the shop that I am standing at starts to open. Shit. Mid stream a spin around and make it just around the corner as the front is opened. At this point I have to put all my focus on not laughing as a string of angry Khmer words come from the front of the shop, thus I have no way of stopping the flow and just hope the owner does not look around the corner.

Finally about 2 liters lighter, I pack it away, get a small water bottle from my backpack’s side pocket and wash my hands, then sneak around the other side of the small structure and through the rest of the market towards the bus. My bed mates are fast asleep. So I have to press my back against the underside of the top bunk as I on all fours scrape over the guy and his kid. Mid way through he turns around in his sleep and elbows me in the nuts. Streams of water fill my eyes as my breath escapes my lungs and I almost drop down on him. With a ploff I managed to miss him and drop into my little space next to him and bounce against the window that a was sure was going to pop out. Sleepily he lifts his head, sees it is me, and then go back to sleep. I have the overwhelming urge to massage my jewels, but fear it may arise the wrong thoughts if someone sees me, so I just lie back and wait for the pain to subside.

About half an hour later, I managed to fall asleep and actually make it right through until sunrise. Lazily the countryside passes by as we make our way to Siem Reap. The bus normally stops at the bus stop that is about 5km out of town, and it normally costs around $4 or so to get to town. However, the bus company decided to get kickbacks, so now they stop at random spots and have only their Tuk Tuks there to pick you up. As luck would have it, the bus stops about 2km out of town, 5 minutes walking distance from my home. Ha ha ha, wicked. I grab my stuff and walk on. By the time I turn off the main road and into the side road leading to my place, the first overpriced Tuk tuks make it past me.

It has been an adventure, but I am so glad to be home. A quick shower, and then I hit my bed. What is it about sleeping on a bus that tires one out so much?