A "sleeper" bus
Updated: Apr 23
A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. Lao Tzu
At 11pm we leave Phnom Penh on our 8 hour journey to Siem Reap. My plan is to get a good sleep, first thing in the morning check in to the hostel and then get out to see the famous Angkor Wat temples. It’s going to be great.
It’s the first time I have used a sleeper bus. Appearances can be deceiving, on the outside it looks just like any normal coach but the inside is Christian Grey’s room of pain.
The first thing the driver makes you do is remove your footwear and place said items into a plastic bag.
There are no seats, there are ‘beds’, with a single restraining strap. If you lay still you are fine but when you move it tightens, all on it’s own. The shiny blue plastic paving slab mattress is in two parts, one is for your lower body it is 120cm long, your top half is tilted at 45º and it measures 60cm.. I am on the top bunk and my feet stick out into fresh air above the drivers head. Beside me is a tall German man and he is stifling a sob.
You have to take turns in giving your body pain. Left side ½ hour - unfold yourself from bottom of bed because the bumping has vibrated you into a curled bundle of sweaty flesh. Turn 90º ½ hour on your back - unfold. Turn 90º on to right side turn ½ hour - unfold, reverse process and repeat and repeat and …
Don’t wear shorts or a T shirt. Bare skin on plastic equals sweat, sweat freezes in the arctic temperatures provided by the air-conditioning.
How many ways can a body move while laying on a bed? Acceleration is no problem, you are against a 45º angled sheet steel mattress behind you. When the driver brakes you slide forward, he brakes a lot. You roll left and right as the bus swerves to avoid potholes, there are a lot of potholes. For the next seven hours we drive over potholes, this means rapid up and down movement. Sweaty skin plus plastic mattress equals lubrication and nil friction. Five directions of swift cold slippery movement. Very erratic.
1am undo safety belt due to abdominal pains caused by secret tightening mechanism and rapid up and down movement - see potholes.
1.30 the tall German man goes to the toilet.
1.35 the tall German man is cursing as he takes off his wet socks. Why are his socks wet?
1.36 I need the toilet.
2 am violent braking means I am propelled forward causing my legs to dangle dangerously over the drivers head. Do safety belt back up.
2.05 undo safety belt due to enlarged bladder.
3am sprinkle water over the woman on the bottom bunk in the hope she will freeze to death and then we can all get some respite from her snoring.
3.01 I still need the toilet, getting uncomfortable now. I have a headache.
3.02 can't fall asleep due to tall German man weeping.
4 am I am still trying to get to sleep so why has someone not turned off their blasted mobile phone? Oh it’s okay it’s the driver. The next ten minutes are spent listening to the driver on his mobile phone shouting over the noise of the engine and snoring while swerving at 90km’s as he miraculously hits every single pothole. Do safety belt up, again.
Joke … “why did the goat cross the road?”
Answer … “who cares the bus driver just ran it over.”
4.01 the tall German is a broken man,. He begins moaning and banging his head gently on the metal bed frame, no sleep, cold feet and I think his socks are frozen.
4.02 I am in pain, sweaty, bitten by a mosquito or twenty, I am frozen but feel strangely relaxed, almost relieved, in less than two hours we are there. It can’t get any worse.
4.05 stomach cramps start, undo safety belt.
5.39 am arrive in Siem Reap. The tall German man has fallen asleep, look quite peaceful.
5.39 and 5 seconds tread all over tall German man in my desperation to get to the outside WC, I make it .... just.
5.45 it’s so hot I want to get back on the bus.
6.15am. I check in to the hostel. I will do the temples tomorrow.
Lao Tzu: http://www.brainyquote.com/search_results.html#ESRTHkHt6MLMWVUO.99
Angkor Wat: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/668