As part of our travel itinerary, and planning, we had originally planned to catch the train which is a recently re opened service from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, however due to the train timetable, which would not see us arrive till late at night, we decided to catch the train on the return journey and book the bus instead.
Fortunately, on the street corner just near our Hostel, there happened to be a booking office for trips, tours and all travel arrangements. We discussed with the man what we wanted and discussed the safest bus company. He advised us that PSD Express was the best, so we booked the 5 hour journey costing us $24 USD for both of us. The plan was, a smaller bus would pick us up at the door and take us to the big bus, we saw a problem straight away! Would the smaller bus even show up?
So, on the morning of our departure, we packed up, checked out, had breakfast, said our goodbyes to the smiling reception team, (the one girl), the coffee lady beside the hostel, the 6 or 7 persistent Tuk Tuk drivers out front and awaited our small bus. The problem we had for seen was played out, when the smaller bus did not arrive at the time scheduled, but still within the time frame given. We are now getting anxious.
We are pacing the street and one Tuk Tuk driver calls the bus company for us and before they had a chance to get back to him, the small bus turns up, so all is good. We are shuttled to the big bus and the office where we are processed for boarding, before long we are loaded and away we go.
This is where the adventure really starts, I am writing this section on board the bus that has WiFi, TV (but it doesn't work) power at your seat for charging your device, water, and a bagel.
It has taken over an hour just to get out of the city, peak hour traffic, roadworks, trucks, you name it but we finally get out onto the open road. In this country they drive on the right with LH drive vehicles, this for a starters is disconcerting but getting we are getting used to it, that was until today. Our bus, at times, seems to be more on the other side of the road facing oncoming traffic, I think our driver is working on the "bigger vehicle has the right of way" principle, then there is the constant honking of the horn as we pass every moto (motor cycle), Tuk Tuk, car, bus and truck. The road is extremely rough and sitting this high up in the bus, you feel every bump and movement. Oh shit, we almost hit a herd of cattle crossing the road... Phew all cows ok.
First stop for a toilet break is the Phnom Penh Bakery. I only said to Mrs Wombat on the way out this morning, that I was a bit disappointed that I had not sampled some of the unique French pastries, and there we go, a whole shop full. A quick pit stop and we buy 2 fresh long bread rolls, still hot and a what I can only describe as a pull apart, with raisins and other sweet yummy fillings. Mrs Wombat bought a simple donut.
The bread rolls were lovely and the pull apart, wow... Just blew the diabetes diet, but was a one off and it's been over 2 weeks without anything sweet, I think I can get away with it!!
Making use of the wifi on the bus, catching up on emails and social media, whilst writing this, all while dodging potholes (roads are not that good) and still at times remaining on the wrong side of the road, went on for too long for my liking. It's better to just not look up, passing and beeping, we stop at our lunch stop. A place called the Stop, ....its original, but clearly set up for all buses etc and time for me to have my daily Latte and Mrs Wombat her iced Mocha. This went down well, let me tell you, but as we had the bakery stop, didn't need to order food. There was, however, a fruit cart on the side of the road, so bought a whole pineapple, nicely cut into pieces in a plastic bag with 2 skewers, whilst I shared this with Mrs Wombat, that's definitely my maximum 2 serves of fruit for the day. By the way, the pineapple cost $1.50 USD and the coffees $5.75 USD ( Aussie prices, but a captive audience).
Back on the bus chewing up the kilometres and the pineapple, whilst admiring the beautiful countryside, the mountains, the lush plantations - have just driven past a massive coconut plantation with more cows just wandering through, (just as long as they stay off the road).
Finally, we arrived at our destination, all safe,well and relieved! On arrival at the bus company office, we were ushered into the office where they established where we wanted to go, then arranged a Tuk Tuk and we were off, bags and all to our guest house.
Down the dodgiest back lane ever, we ended up being delivered to a little oasis, with pool, bar, cafe great WiFi and a very spacious room. The guest house is owned by a French guy and his wife and they made us feel most welcome.