Politicians the world over have a bad habit of over-promising and under-delivering. The same is true in most third world countries I have visited. For example, a few years ago when I was traveling from Peru to Boliva, the bus stopped about a KM from the boarder and we were told in broken English, "ok you walk now". So I must admit that I really should not have been surprised with the night bus from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville, yet I was.
After spending two of our three weeks in Siem Reap, we decided we should see some more of this country and that the beach would be a good place to start. The only problem was that transportation options are somewhat limited when you are traveling with a 3 year old and are on a budget. In the end we settled on the 7 hour journey by night bus. We were promised full comfortable beds, AC, a toilet and hotel pick-up all for a very reasonable price of $20 US per person. We also figured that Hudson would sleep most, if not at least part of the way.
Things got off to a bit of a rocky start as we waited for a car/ shuttle bus to pick us up from our hotel. At 7:30 PM, our pick up was already half an hour late. We watched bus after bus pull up and leave the front of our hotel.
"Maybe that's them" I joked with Mira as a pickup truck loaded with people pulled up front.
We both laughed...but the joke was on us. This WAS our ride. (To the bus station)
Fortunately Hudson and Mira got to sit in the cab, but I was squeezed into the back with approximately 10 to 11 other people and all our luggage. Given the wide eyes of every other person in the back of the truck, whoever they booked their ticket with also left out a few tidbits of helpful information.
One look inside however clearly indicated that the surprises were going to keep on coming. As you can somewhat make out from the photos below, the bus looks nothing like promised. It was in fact not even a 2 deck bus but a regular bus with "beds" on the floor and bunks built above. The bed might pass as "comfortable" if you were say 5 feet tall, however I would not advertise a pail in small closet as a "toilet".
In the end we did make it safely to Sihanouk Ville. Although a little sleepy, were no worse for wear from our adventure. Granted it was NOT at all what we expected, but it wasn't that bad and I think if we knew what we were getting ourselves into, we would have been somewhat satisfied. Afterall - you do get what you have paid for - even here in Cambodia.
So would I do it again? Maybe. We have been debating about how we will get back to Siem Reap to catch our flight. Hudson's vote to goes to the "bumpy sleeping bus". But, I think we will hire a taxi this time. Hopefully there will be a few less surprises along the way.