The Dreaded Laos to Cambodia Bus
She's been on at me for ages to write a blog... so here goes nothing.
Cambodia, the next destination on our list! We thought we would be smart arses and save a bit of cash by getting a 22hour sleeper bus. Looking at plane tickets, we were getting all sorts of different numbers. Anywhere from £115 - £250 and the flight is literally 2 hours long.
We spent pretty much the whole day before walking around town looking for the cheapest tickets. The bus station itself normally best deal so we took it upon ourselves to walk straight there. So off we went walking for what seemed like miles (it was only 1.5km) and miles in the blistering midday heat.
We finally reached the bus station in town - massive relief as we'd been walking for ages. But nothing is never as simple as it seems! Obviously! It never is for us anyway. Of course, we had just spent the best part of an hour dragging our sorry arses across the town to end up in the WRONG BUS STATION! The correct bus station was another hour to walk!!!! Sod that, we were so done.
After arriving at the wrong place we decided to just try our luck with one of the shops advertising tickets. Around 75% of the shops we looked at had the same price of 400,000KIP and with some good old bartering, we managed to knock a pound off and get the tickets for 390,000KIP.
The guy who sold us the tickets said we needed to be ready to get picked up by the tuk-tuk at 6pm the next day. So there we were sitting around in the common room of our hostel to be picked up worrying that we had been forgotten about until the tuk-tuk finally arrived at 7:00pm! Because we checked out of our room at 11am we literally spent most of the day sat in the common room. An hour late isn't always an issue, but after sitting around 5/6 hours before that we were starting to get itchy. We arrived at the bus station around half an hour after. The tuk-tuk driver gave us our bus tickets and off we went!
Our bus was the 0333 8:30pm sleeper service to Pakse, then we have to swap busses to Cambodia. It was finally time to board and we don't know about you guys but we have absolutely no idea what to expect with a sleeper bus!
There is literally no room to stand up, you find yourself crouched down walking through the aisle looking for your bed. Our bed was on the upper floor right at the back. The bed was probably 5ft5 long and with me being 5ft11 you can imagine the struggle already! We sorted all of our bags out and got comfortable just as it was time to leave.
Lozza and I have both heard all the horror stories about the sleeper busses but we both decided to go into it with an open mind. How silly were we! About an hour into our journey and 538 potholes later the bus stopped. We were pretty confused as to why it had stopped but soon realised, whilst gasping for air, the air conditioning had failed. The driver and his "co-pilot" kept running in and out of the bus trying to sort it out. One would be at the back of the bus pushing things and trying to work a miracle whilst the other was up on the top floor with half of his body hanging out of the engine bay hatch trying to do the same. It was a complete shambles. After an hour of messing around, they both finally admitted defeat and called up the company to get a replacement bus. Which was great for us as it was baking hot outside and inside! After waiting for 3 hours, it finally turned up. Our second bus was a lot nicer than the first one but the beds didn't change size. After three hours of drama, we finally managed to get some sleep.
I woke up around 7:30 am to the sound of the locals getting on and off the bus. Lauren was still in fairyland dreaming about unicorns and flowers or whatever it is these girls dream about. At the next stop, about 30 local woman and girls came abroad with fricking whole chickens on a stick. I'm talking head, feet, the lot. It wasn't the most pleasant thing to wake up to but Asia is Asia and people were actually buying them and having them for breakfast.
We finally arrived in Pakse to a very pissed off bus driver haha. The first thing he said to us was, "I've been waiting for you two for 2 hours" with such a dead expression on his face. We had just woken up, full of energy and just smiled and hopped on our next bus.
A few hours down the road we finally crossed the Laos to Cambodia border. To save any hassle (like we hadn't had enough already) we decided to pay the extra $5 to have one of the bus drivers co-pilots to go and get our passport stamped for us whilst we ate our first meal in Cambodia.
Dinner was cheap hot and tasted fine so no complaints here! Our only complaint would be that one of the co-pilots pulled out a sack out of the luggage hold from under the bus. Whilst I'm tucking into my noodles he drops out a 6 ft, dead snake on the floor right next to my feet. It was horrible, my only thoughts were that they are going to eat it and I'm so happy I chose the vegetarian option! We sat around for a little while whilst we waited for the other passengers to get back from immigration.
Back on the bus, dreading the next 7 hours it was time to try and get a bit of sleep. I think we both managed to get a good hour in us before we came to another stop! We looked at each other like "here we go again" another bloody break down would be the last thing we needed.
But this was worse.... because only a few people were going to Siem Reap and everyone else to Phnom Penh, they had arranged a nice little minibus for us. A fricken mini bus!!! They are slow, cramped and get too hot. I mean they're a bit more bearable if the a/c is on but no that was broken as well. So we had to spend the next four/five hours hot cramped and uncomfortable in a small little bus with a driver who stopped in every village to say hi to his friends or sell them drugs. I mean I don't speak Cambodian so I didn't have a clue what they kept on talking about but it started to get annoying.
At 6:30pm we were around 1.5 hours away from Siem Reap. We started hitting the potholes because it was dark and the driver struggled to weave his way around them. This made the last part of our journey horrendous. Imagine traveling for hours and hours having so much drama along the way that you have to put up with this nightmare at the end of your trip! Oh wait, there was another bloody stop! This time the police! Again we were sat waiting for about 40 minutes whilst they inspected his van and made him pay 20 dollars for literally nothing at all.
Eventually, we got going again and I'm sure it was around 8 o'clock by the time we got out of the bus!! That's a full 24 hours traveling and we were done!!!!!
Saved £250 in total though, go us.