Friday, December 3, 2010

Touchdown, Cambodia!

Okaaay....So, we didn't technically touched down at Cambodia since there was no direct Cebu Pacific flight going to either Siem Reap or Pnomh Penh.

So, from Ho Chi Minh, we had to take the bus going to Siem Reap, Cambodia.

And, it was a whopping 14-hour trip!

Now, I'm a veteran of looong bus rides since I commuted almost every week from Manila to Naga for two and a half years. Naga is just, oh, an 8-hour bus ride from Manila. It could be done in 6-hours if you had a cluelessly reckless, cranked-up bus driver. Or, it could stretch into a frustrating 12-hour ride if you made the mistake of taking the day trip, no thanks to the traffic!

Knowing is half the battle. And, boy! Do. I. Know.

So I came prepared with a fully-charged iTouch, installed with tons of songs, the Guns N' Roses "Use Your Illusion" Live in Tokyo Concert (a two-part rock extravaganza!), and a few nonsensical games (this was pre-Angry Birds so the games were boooring!). I also had my trusty Lonely Planet guide book, which I hadn't fully absorbed. Plus, I was traveling in the company of good friends so I was sure that we could keep the convos coming to while away the time.

We took the Mekong Express Limousine Bus, which according to locals, was a trustworthy bus line. Limousine, this ain't. And, a far cry from Isarog (my favorite Manila-Naga bus line) with their Lazy Boy seats. But it was decent and fairly clean and had all the basics covered -- A/C with just the right temperature and not freee-brrr-eeezing cold like the ones of Philtranco; and a clean, odorless toilet.

And, the best part? They served two good pastry pieces as light snack.

All these for US $20. And, that's round-trip already!


The bus ride started out fine. On top of the light snacks provided by the bus line, we were also given banh mi and banana that the thoughtful hostel OIC packed as a send-off. So, I was a very happy girl.

The first leg (6 hours) of the trip was slow. Not much scenery to take your breath away. A few hours down the line, we had already reached Bavet -- the entry point of Cambodia if you're coming by land from Ho Chi Minh.

Be warned: the immigration offices in these parts are pure chaos. The queueing system is an alien concept here. If you're not vigilant, expect a person to unknowingly cut in front of you and invade your personal space. I say "unknowingly." Forgive them for they do not know what transgression they do. This is the norm. Just hold your ground and you're assured that you will reach the end of the line non-line.

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