Today (22nd October 2007) will now be known in my mind forever as THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE! I knew travelling would have its lows, but today I feared for my own safety. Maybe I'm making this day out to be worse than it was, but I don't think I have ever been so scared!!
I had booked a bus from Phnom Penh to Bangkok. Its a full days bus journey, so you need to leave at 6am really. There were two buses - one at 6.30am and one at 7.30am. The guy asked if I wanted to go on the later one, and it would pick me up from my hostel any time between 7am and 7.30am. I sat and waited and watched other buses of travellers set off. I waited untill 8.15am and then got a tuk tuk down to the place I booked the ticket to find out what was going on! The guy said that the bus hadn't even left yet. I was slightly relieved, and made my way to the bus station.
The bus didn't actually leave untill about 9am, and this meant there can't have been enough time for me to cross the border before dark. I was really worried, but assumed the company knew what they were doing! Turns out that no one else was going to Bangkok, and the driver didn't care that I was either! There were about 70 people crammed on a fifty seater bus and I shared my seat with a woman and her young daughter, who she continued to picks the nits out of her hair on the journey and squash them on the seat! No one spoke a word of English, and generally people just stared at me alot. I had no idea where I was the whole day, and felt physically sick!
After about 10 hours of driving, and changing buses about 4 times, it did start to get dark and I was scared. When you drive to the border of Cambodia, there is nothing but tiny huts for about 4 hours. I knew I couldn't cross the border after dark as it is so dangerous, but I had nowhere to stay. I constantly kept saying Bangkok to the driver, who simply looked at me and laughed. When we arrived at the border I just sat on the bus and refused to get off. Thankfully the owner of the bus company spoke some English and found me a hotel. I just collapsed. I know this doesn't sound that harrowing, but if I tell you the full story, it really really was - I was genuinely terrified all day - I must have looked like the biggest mugging target going! Then the next day crossed the border at 8am, only to find I had to wait another 5 hours to get my bus into Bangkok - this meant I would be back too late to get my bus to Ko Phangan. So, had to pay for a motorbike to take me to the local bus depot, pay for another bus ticket, then pay for a taxi from the bus depot to Khao San Road. I really wish I had just paid the $140 and flown! Hey ho - its all character building!
Got to Khao San at 4pm, paid for a room just to shower, to then get on an overnight bus to Ko Phanyan at 6pm. Effort! However, sitting waiting at the bus stop was Marita - my savour. An absoltely fabulous Ozzy girl woman who was also travelling on her own. We got on instantly, and I was sat on a bus full of party fuelled travellers all gearing up for Full Moon! I was so relieved!! I have no shame in admitting a im not a hardcore traveller, and don't feel the need to be!