Sra Em on a bus

Trip Start Dec 26, 2010
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24
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Trip End Feb 03, 2011


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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Brunched at Five Sons cafe (fast becoming my favourite, for their large portions of food at the same price elsewhere. Free fruits and mineral water too!) By 1230pm, I was fast on my way in a tuktuk heading to the bus terminal. It must had been my lucky day - the bus booth advertisement showed a Siem Reap - Sra Em route. This information was not even available when I bought my ticket. All the travel offices from yesterday attested that bus only travels to Anlong Veng. My original plan was to make my way to Sra Em on moto after a night lodging at Anlong Veng. My face just beamed. For US$2 extra, my ticket was changed to Sra Em (where I would stage my moto trek to Prasat Preah Vihear.
 
Bus route to Anlong Veng fortunately was on good sealed roads and rather new too. Before I knew it, my bus greeted Anlong Veng in the red duststorms much like a rural western country town. Caught sight of my first Cambodia soldier with an AK47 at the market crossorads. Stop was quick and whilst happily snapping away, the bus driver attempted to leave with me chasing the bus down. The local passengers heaved sighs of relief when I climbed onboard. Many were in fact alerting the bus driver that someone was not onboard. 
 
A few winks later, everyone was instructed to alight. We were at another derelict western looking town Oddar Meanchey, but much smaller. Here we had to transfer to another bus heading to Sra Em. The transfer bus however took one hour to arrive. By 6pm, the blazing sun had fallen and the town was fading out of light. It must had been a quick 40 minutes before we stopped again. This time a definite Sra Em. Moto riders were hassling at the door for passengers. None spoke english. One bloke broke the noisy meelee with "Do you want guesthouse?" A quick "Yes!" came out responsively. He pulled me aside and started with a "US$15 room I take you there! "Oh too expensive! You have a US$6?" "Sure, sure! this way, sit my moto I bring you!" He pointed to a dimly lit shophouse 50 metres in front of me. I just realised that we were standing in the middle of the road at the roundabout.
 
Heading to where he pointed, I came to an old building with a middle aged women watching soap opera at the front. Managed to check in with help from this moto driver translating. US$6 room - rudimentary with cold water shower, toilet with a seat, timber lourve windows and no glass panes. Alarm bells went off and mosquito coils/insecticide/insect repellent out in force.
 
Tried ordering dinner at a nearby stall and insistently informed in khmer language that kitchen was closed. The opposite open air restaurant looked unwelcoming but at least there were four caucasians with their tour guide feasting on a big dinner spread. Sat down and had dinner that costed twice as much as Siem Reap's prices. It was not long before I chatted with one of the caucasian couple, turned out to be Aussies from Perth. They were pretty impressed that I made it this far to Sra Em on public transport. They had it better, having made their way here in a comfy chartered 4WD.
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