Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights;
it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”
- Miriam Beard -
We purchased our bus tickets from the villa. We planned to ride the Mekong Express Bus because it was well-recommended among tourists; instead we opted to try the Angkor Express Bus, a fairly new bus company. We asked how to go to the bus station way ahead of time so we’d know where to go and how to approximate our travel time. It turned out that this bus company picks up their passengers from their hotel and bring them to the bus station. When I heard about this, I said, “Oh wow, what an ease!” They did pick us up on time. At 7:15 in the morning we were already on board.
Passengers and vendors at the bus station
The thing about Angkor Express is that because it’s not yet a well-known bus company among tourists, most of the passengers are locals. Inside the bus, it was just me, Oki and a White guy. And we don’t look like foreigners at all since we blended well with the crowd. The guy who was attending to the passengers would only talk to the White guy in English, never bothering to translate for us.
This is our bus, Angkor Express looking all mighty and tough.
Oki started asking a local girl who was sitting beside her in English. She gave a puzzled look and asked the help of an older guy who was already looking our way. He didn’t seem to understand either so what Oki did was to demonstrate what she was trying to say from which the Cambodians started to laugh. I don’t understand the remarks but I get it as something like, “Oh we thought you are Cambodians, you look like us!” We always get this a lot so we just gave it a shrug.
An inside look of the Angkor Express with a Khmer music video shown on tv
Overall, the ride was okay. Especially, if you are the type who is apathetic about what is going on inside the bus like people talking in gibberish, laughing and you looking like a fool wondering what they were talking about. The White guy seems to be totally listless. He just looked at his window almost all the time.
We get 3 pieces of these Camory cookies and a bottle of water for our snacks.
There was a tv on board which showed nothing but music videos in Khmer. Oki and I recognized some Tagalog songs which they sung into their local tongue. For 6 hours we heard nothing but Khmer songs reverberating in the air that for a second there I was able to pick up some of the tunes and try singing it to myself.
This is the first stopover. I spotted female monks (in white) heading for the refreshment area.
We had two stopovers, all of which I cannot tell the name of the place since nothing is written in English. The first stopover was a drag. There was nothing much to see in the sense that I feel like I was in one of those stopovers on my way to Baguio.
This is the second stopover wherein I decide to take my lunch.
Fruit vendors in front of the food house
The second stopover is interesting though as I have seen some of the most weird-looking delicacies being sold like a heap of fried spiders, one-day old chicks, etc. It was in this stopover that I decided to take my lunch. I was really hungry that time. I ordered a plate of chicken fried rice (which I have been tirelessly eating since I set foot in Cambodia). Oki bought green mango (crunchy, not sour). I also tried their jackfruit which I didn’t like that much (not sweet, not juicy).
A heap of fried spiders sprinkled with garlic on top (?) Anyone?!
While we were eating, people would come to us to sell all sorts of food. Some of them would not look at me but to the food that I was eating. I know what that means. The owner of the eatery was shooing them away. Half way through my lunch, our bus made a continuous beep, alarming all its passengers to board. I said, “Huwat? Boarding already? I haven’t finished my lunch!” The lady at the eatery offered to wrap it for takeout. Already, there were people waiting for me to give up my food so I said, “No, it’s okay!” Instantly, we made a run for the bus. When I looked back, saw that some of the vendors were asking for the food I left. My heart sunk at that moment. ;-(
Looks familiar? On our way to the main city
The busy street of Phnom Penh
A view of the city traffic
We find no means of sleeping the whole time we were traveling. I never told Oki but the music video is starting to get into my head. For the love of me, I wanted to shut it off. They keep repeating some of the songs that it was starting to irk me.
A few hours more, the scene outside my window changed from a totally village-like sight to a familiar cityscape view. We knew then, that we are in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia.