Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cambodia, An Introduction to Chaos

Check out those subtitles! (And anyone who stood, was a terrible fate.)
Anyone who travels owes it to themselves to pick up a book and/or google the place they are about to insert themselves into. By researching you can better equip yourself for madness if it should arise.

Ally and I had been fairly lucky throughout Laos, avoiding madness and headaches most of the way through the country's winding roads and sleepy towns. We avoided madness through the first 3/4 of our journey to Siem Reap as well and I was beginning to think that we were a couple of the lucky ones! BIG mistake! Here's the story...

We purchased a bus ticket while on Don Det and early on Wednesday morning after a sudden early morning mystery illness, we took a boat with several other travellers to the mainland where we waited for a bit for our big bus to arrive. The bus was nice. We scored 2 of the best seats and had a perfect view of the flatscreen T.V that brought us such gems as The Mummy 3, Yip Man 2 (great film!), Evan Almighty and Shaolin (which wins the award for worst English subtitles of all time!). After several hours on the bus we arrived at a rest stop and were told to get our bags off the bus because we'd be taking other transportation to Siem Reap. Someone told us 30minutes which gave us time to grab some dinner before the final leg of our journey. Eventually a minibus showed up and 17 travellers and 17 large rucksacks were shoved into a space that really should only be used for about 10 travellers and 10 medium sized rucksacks. The rest of us sat there watching as the passengers quickly became better acquainted with one another with feelings of dread beginning to boil in the pit of our stomachs.

View from the rooftop bar of Siem Reap.
(Quick side story, one of the girls did not check to see if her bag had come of the bus and was surprised to see that it was not among the pile of bags and instead on the bus bound for Phnom Pehn... lesson ALWAYS check to see where your bag is!)

We were told to hang on for 50 more minutes and our transportation would arrive. 1.5 hours later it did and things were looking AMAZING. It was the kind of bus one expects to board when told the bus is VIP. Wide plush seats with fleece blankets and air conditioning that put all other air conditioning to shame.

What we forgot to do was suppress our excitement because when things seem too good to be true in this part of the world they often are! We weren't on the bus for 5 minutes before a man told 8 of us to get off. He told us that the driver was still eating and there wasn't enough seats so he had to wait for the driver so they could figure it out. None of us were very impressed with this situation. Not enough seats? Last bus to Siem Reap? WTF! So we did what any other defiant Westerner would do, we mentally flipped the guy off and got back on the bus. We'd show these people we weren't there to be taken advantage of. Well soon after we'd taken our seats again the guy got on and began moving people around. He ushered us to the back where an American who had been on the bus for a couple hours already began telling us to relax and not give the people trouble because they were "simple people". He then told us we were acting too much like tourists. Later on Ally would tell him off quite nicely. He was the kind of American that gives the rest a horrible name and it's sad because I've met many intelligent yanks on these travels.
(For a full Ally retelling of the events visit her blog @

Luxury slightly out of our price range!
Anyway it soon became apparent that there were not enough seats on the bus and despite paying twice as much as the people already on the bus I was told to go to the front where the guy told me to sit on the floor right behind the window. So I squeezed myself into a 3 foot space and got "comfortable" for the remainder of the trip. By the time we arrived, I had broken down and decided I was going home. My back was spasming, I couldn't feel my feet because the air con was actually too cold, I had hit my head off of several surfaces while trying to get comfortable and was feeling a bit queasy from the drive. In the end I realized that most of my aggravation had stemmed from the douchebag yank who had been the icing on my bitter wits-end-cake. Clearly I didn't go home that would be ridiculous and so far Siem Reap has made up for the bus journey!

Ally and Charlotte lounging by the pool.
On our first night we met up with Charlotte from Don Det and had a delicious meal on Pub Street. She is the kind of person that feels like an old friend almost immediately and it was sad to say goodbye. But before we did we checked the rooftop bar of some fancy hotel and drank $3 fruit shakes while we lounged by the rooftop pool... feeling completely out of place in our oh so fancy backpacker duds! Again check out Charlotte's blog if you haven't!

Now we have a couple weeks to really get to know Siem Reap and explore Angkor Wat... exciting stuff!!


  1. Thanks for dropping by at backpacker..cambodia is on my list this year

  2. Nightmare journey, dream destination. Enjoy those temples. Really laughing at the 'idiots' label for this post!!