Sunday, 10 March 2013

# 27: Buses, Tuk-Tuks & Zen..

Having counted down the days for the last month, my gorgeous girl has finally arrived in Cambodia. The poor girl spent 25 hrs travelling, but only 10 hrs in the air. That's a lot of hours curled up in airport chairs...

Bodgy Buses from Battambang
I, on the other hand, left Battambang at noon on Wednesday for the '6hr' bus trip to Phnom Penh. Just over 90 mins into the trip, a disturbingly loud clunk slowed said bus to a frustrating crawl and we travelled the next couple of hours at a maximum speed of 20km/hr..
Terrific for sightseeing...Great opportunity to practice patience....and zen...and sleep....and a little more patience...

Turns out the transmission had somewhat imploded, but this is Cambodia, the bus was not actually we just kept driving.
3 hrs into the trip, we pulled into the first rest stop..only to discover that the insane shuddering we'd all noticed over the last half hour or so, had been due to a snapped-n-two shock absorber on the front wheel...closely followed by a very flat tyre!

The driver called the office, the office said just wait there and we'll send a replacement bus, the passengers laughed and we all settled in for the 'just-15-minutes-Madame' wait for the replacement bus.

An hour & a half later, bus #2 arrived, we piled in and set off again.

Yep, they all just laughed - I love this country, nothing upsets the Khmer and I'm slowly learning not to worry about the things I have no control over.... like buses that shit themselves, causing planned journeys to take hours longer than expected, and plans based on 'official' schedules to be more akin to a dreamy ideal than anything remotely like reality.

We arrived in Phnom Penh at 9pm and I grabbed a tuk-tuk to go to to Kyra's place - thankyou for that, Lovely. 
When I booked the midday bus from Battambang, my plan had been to drop my gear and head out for some dinner but, after spending 9, coffee free hours on the silly-bus, I instead settled for one, very strong coffee, dropped the mattress on the floor under the ceiling fan and promptly fell asleep. This is not something I'm accustomed to doing at Kyra's place but, after a bus trip of unrivalled absurdity and without the company of my Aussie Babes and/or a litre or two of Kyra's extraordinary cocktails, it was the best I could manage.

Tuk-tuk booked for a 9am pickup to go to the airport, was right on time.
Jas' plane, on the other hand was about 1/2 hr late... no problem, just have another coffee.

Finally got to hug my girl ! 
We returned to Kyra's, dumped more bags, drank more coffee, then out to the markets for clothes and stuff..
Dropped all the shopping off at 'home' & went in search of food... 

We soon found Lemongrass Restaurant where we ate a small mountain of food....washed down with some wonderful juices, then wandered up the road for a 'proper' coffee. By now Jas was looking a little like a zombie so, because I love her, we went home to watch movies and go to sleep.
At this point we met Ty. A particularly endearing tuk-tuk driver who won us both over with his smiles, his command of English, his gentle manner and his reply of "whatever you think is fair" when asked "How much?". We used his services for the duration of our stay in PP.

Friday morning, Ty arrived to take us to Botanico for a scrumptious breakfast - I just love their "Creamy Scrambled Eggs'...not to mention (which I will..) the terrific coffee.

Then back home, grab our gear and onto the midday bus for the '5-6 hr' trip to Siem Reap. 
Of course, 5-6 hours was just kidding. The "highway" is STILL being repaired (groan..) so, after 8 1/2 hrs and with slightly aching backs, we arrived in Siem Reap at 8.30pm. The trip had an extra 1/2 hr or so added to the end because the driver didn't go straight to the depot but decided instead that, since the delay had no doubt caused some inconvenience to his passengers, he would set about delivering each and every one of them to the street they wanted. A charming gesture, but since neither of us new the layout of Siem Reap, we didn't realise that one of those countless streets had been the one where our hotel was, so when we finally did reach the depot and told him where we had to go, he apologised and arranged for one of the Capital Transport tuk-tuks to take us back.
How accommodating, we thought, until the driver realised he had a very flat tyre and proceeded to drive around in search of a pump...

Finally, made it to the hotel. Hot showers and coffee..hang on, there's no kettle in our room. Hmmm, just ask room service to bring some up - "sorry madam, the kitchen is closed, you can get coffee after 6am..."

Zen,zen,zen...get dressed
Well what do you know, there's an awesome cafe just around the corner - Bon Cafe. Strong coffee, free WiFi, great juices AND cocktails..
Mission accomplished !

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