After a lovely three weeks in Cambodia, it was time to move on to Thailand, making our way to Chiang Mai for the housesitting gig we had arranged. But that was a few days away yet. For the moment, the task was to get from Sihanoukville, Cambodia to Bangkok, Thailand via bus. The independent method involved a bus to the Cambodia-Thai border, then hiring a minivan for a two hour drive up the coast, then catching a bus to Bangkok.
We were hoping to get a slightly smoother journey, so we booked a through trip from one of the bus companies. I asked them how many transfers we’d have to make and they said, “One. You stop at the border, and pick up another bus on the other side.” “So just two buses?” “Yes.” Satifisfied, we headed to bed early in preparation for the 12 hour trip.
I woke up with a fever, which didn’t bode well for the day, but we caught our free shuttle to the bus station and hopped aboard and things seemed off to a good start. We made it to the border with no problems and after about an hour and a half passing through customs, we emerged in Thailand eagerly looking for our connecting bus to Bangkok. No such luck. Instead, there were a bunch of grumpy looking travelers milling around a minivan. They kept showing the driver their tickets, and he kept rejecting them. Eventually he took off with a load of passengers, but not the ones who had come on our bus. Then a new minivan showed up, and did indeed accept all of us. We loaded up and were on our way again. Not a bus, but at least we were moving.
After about 15 minutes the minivan pulls over and we’re all told to get out and transfer to another minivan, for no apparent purpose. Ok. We do, and we’re off again. Around 4 pm we rolled into a bus station and were gestured to get out and go wait. We hung around for a while, some people fruitlessly trying to figure out if the buses parked there were headed to Bangkok. Eventually we were ushered towards, you guessed it, another minivan! This time we got to sit around for about 30 minutes before they decided it was time to go.
We drove not to far into a town, and pulled up next to a travel agency. uh oh! We were told to get out yet again, and by this time, several of the travelers were getting visibly upset and acting rudely. After some of the other travel situations we have been in on our trip so far, this situation felt like a piece of cake and Alina and I had no problems sitting back and watching the spectacle. We were told that this was the last switch and we’d be going all the way to Bangkok. Well, we hoped so, since they took our tickets! After a short wait, we piled into yet another minivan and drove off. True to the promise, this minivan took us the rest of the way, dropped us off in the backpacker’s area of Bangkok around 9 pm.
So, counting the shuttle to the bust station in the morning, we rode one bus, and five minivans on the 13 hour journey. Basically, the bus company lied right to my face. Throughout the whole thing, Alina was an angel, helping me manage my fever by dabbing me continuously with a wet handkerchief.
Image Credit: Erin Phichittanarak