Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Awful Bus Journey to Koh Kong

After Kampot we decided to head to Koh Kong, which is a big town right on the Cambodian/Thai border. There is a big national park there and there are quite a few options to do home stays there. We decided the night before we left Kampot that we would do a home stay for a couple of days in the mountains.

We were both very excited about it and had called the company the morning that we were leaving to confirm. They said that they had a place for us to stay and that we would be able to get motorbike taxis from the Koh Kong bus station. We had told them that we were leaving from Kampot and would call them when we arrived at the Koh Kong bus station.

We had booked our bus ticket with the guesthouse that we were staying at. The bus ticket cost $12 each; which is by far the most expensive bus ticket we had in Cambodia. All of the previous buses that we had taken were either minibus to regular bus. Every one of them had air-con and were quite comfortable to ride in and usually cost between $6 and $8.

That morning an old disgusting minibus came to pick us up. We weren't alarmed because a lot of times in Cambodia a bad bus will come and collect you to bring you to the bus terminal to catch your bus. We got on this bus and it was full of locals...so full in fact that there was only one seat for the two of us (it was a seat that you pull down as extra). Still believing that this would bring us to the terminal we went around town and picked up more and more people.
Eventually there were 22 people in a 16 seater minibus. And then it happened, we started driving out of town and kept going!

About 20 minutes into the journey we resigned to the fact that this bus would be taking us the whole way to Koh Kong (6 hours away). There was no air-con and as I said earlier myself and Jason were sharing a seat. We were so angry, not because of the fact that we were taking a local bus but because they had completely ripped us off by charging us a ridiculous amount each for the tickets. If we paid $3 each for them then I would have been quite happy...but $12 EACH!!!
Things just got worse from that point, it was disgustingly hot and a child in front of us started puking (he actually got sick all over the man next to him) Then the bus broke down so we had to wait while they fixed it.

While waiting we decided to ring the guesthouse and ask for half of our money back (even if they did give it back we would still be overpaying) since technically we paid for two seats and were sharing one. Of course we didn't get any money back but instead they tried to get others to move so that we could have two seats. This wash;t what we wanted at all since everyone else was just as cramped as we were. After telling them that it was ok and that we would share a seat we had to accept the fact that we had gotten ripped off. Along the way we stopped at a little restaurant and we ordered some food, there was a pig nearby that was eating everyones scraps that fell on the floor. It was an interesting place that unfortunately had us feeling sick that night.

Finally after a loooooooong six hours we arrived at Koh Kong. We found a phone and called the company again to get the details about how to get there. Unfortunately the person on the phone didn't speak much English and after 15 minutes on the phone I still had no idea where to go. We decided to get a tuk-tuk into town and find some wifi to get the address. Once we arrived in town we found the name. We asked some moto drivers and they said that it was too far away and that we could get a bus there the next day. Then we asked a tuk-tuk driver who told us the same thing. After such a frustrating/disappointing day we just asked him to bring us to a guesthouse. It was on the way to the guesthouse that the tuk-tuk driver told us that because we were coming from Kampot we should have gotten off of the bus about two hours before Koh Kong to get to the home stay. I was so annoyed because the person that we were talking to that morning knew we were coming from Kampot and spoke good English but failed to mention that we should be getting off sooner :(

We ended up staying in the border town and being as fed up as we were decided to leave Cambodia the next day and go to Koh Chang. We were both sad that that was the last experience that we had in Cambodia but it didn't stop us from having amazing memories of the wonderful country and it's people.

** Now reading it back, while sitting in a coffee shop in Korea, it sounds ridiculous to be so upset about $12. But at the time thats a lot of money, that could have paid for two nights accommodation. I can't explain it, but you get into a certain frame of mind when visiting these countries, like anywhere else in the world you want to be treated fairly. Also this was in April, which is the hottest month of the year in Cambodia. So we were in an overcrowded bus in mid 30's heat with no air-con or fan and a child vomiting. **

Tips: DON'T book your bus with Long Villa guesthouse in Kampot. We have written about our experience on trip advisor and we weren't the only ones that this happened to.


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