Bus Journey from Hell #1

13 Feb

We’ve been relatively lucky with buses, so far, if you take squat toilets and a fine coating of red dust, AKA a Ratanakiri suntan, as part of the experience, though it would be fair to say that I’m more adventurous on the roadside food front than Z.

Anywise, it took us twelve hours to get from Phnom Penh to Ban Lung in the north-east. About two hours in, a young woman boarded with her 18-month old son and 5-year-old daughter.

The bus was beyond full, but the conductor, who spoke some English, saw a bright side. “Ladies and babies sit together!” he said, ushering the three of them to our seat and Z onto my lap.

Even with the little girl perched on bags in the aisle, cramped doesn’t even begin to cover it.

The “aircon”, or those few vents which worked, couldn’t cope with the demands of six hours of unmade road, plus Z felt sick, so we progressed in stately fashion with his head out of the window, a smokestorm of russet dust entering the vehicle and our water firmly wedged somewhere under four pairs of feet.

Apparently, only the oldest buses, and that means some considerable vintage, go onto those roads — the temporary bridges and two-foot ruts meant we passed several at the roadside.

The baby was hot, so cross, so screaming, even when naked. The driver utilised such verve that bumps sent us over six inches into the air, though I guess better that than bottoming out. And it wasn’t just Z who was feeling the ride.

Mama emitted a steady and ladylike stream of vomit into a mercifully substantial supply of carrier bags, which accumulated on the floor or whizzed past my face and through the window.

They can transport anything in a carrier bag here. Sugar cane juice, kerosene, left-overs, 200 kilometres worth of vomit. It’s mastery of a kind, I guess.

5 Responses to “Bus Journey from Hell #1”

  1. Helen February 13, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    This must have confirmed bus travel as Zac’s least favourite form of transport. Perhaps the trip from Rudham to Fakenham / Norwich won’t seem so bad now.
    I love reading your blog, your writing is really lively and the local colour bursts through in the words.
    Life in Norfolk is pretty quiet, but will be planting snowdrops ‘in the green’ next week when they become available. Have just looked out of the window – it is snowing again.
    Enjoy your heat and dust!
    Lots of love to you both

    • MummyT February 13, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

      he’s being remarkably good about buses in general — fortunately so, all in all — although we will be taking boats where possible. snowing again! we are in an internet cafe in phnom penh, meeting a friend from the uk for dinner, and hopefully going to see some fireworks for chinese new year (if they have them, which is a very moot point: at least there should be dragon dances tomorrow…) glad to hear all is good with you.

  2. mish February 14, 2010 at 3:53 am #

    Hope the fireworks eventuated – you both deserved some kind of reward for surviving this trip.

    I second Helen’s thoughts on your writing. I read endless travel blogs & yours really do shine – love finding one waiting in my email box.
    Love to you & Zac


  3. MummyT February 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    The fireworks failed to eventuate: apparently, they have been banned. We also failed to make a putative New Year’s Day parade, and I was too lazy to go and look for a Chinese temple. Hey-ho. Better luck with Songkran in Bangkok…

  4. Annie February 20, 2010 at 12:52 am #

    I’ve had this exact same bus journey in Sri Lanka down to the carrier bags of vomit being hurled past my ear. I understand your horror! Love reading your stories x

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