Saturday, November 08, 2003

Enduring the road from hell

Our bus arrived in Bangkok four hours late since we seemed to be continually stopping to remedy some sort of mechanical malfunction. We had decided to head back to Bangkok and then onto Cambodia. The border between Laos and Cambodia is often closed to tourists. So although being stuck at a border crossing would have been a cool adventure our time was rather limited and we chose the more predictable route. We spent the day once again on Khao San Road hanging out and phoning the parents on a proper internet phone.

Checking in with the parentals

Our bus to Cambodia left early in the morning and we were eagerly anticipating our visit to the Angkor ruins. But first we had to endure the a nightmare journey from the Thai border to Siem Reap.

Waiting at the border crossing

This particular stretch of road has been the subject of many an amusing story from fellow backpackers. A number of us on the bus were betting how long the 150 kilometre journey would take. My estimate of 5.5 hours was well below the actual 7 hours we endured. There was no right or left side driving on this road, the driver just swerved around trying to avoid as many potholes as possible. At one point we were forced to stop before crossing a single lane bridge because a minivan had come stuck in a hole. With some group effort, we managed to push the minivan out and proceeded on our way.

The Cambodians joke about the state of the roads in the country but its current condition is quite appalling. The Khmer Rouge destroyed many roads because they didn't want people to travel and share ideas. Five years ago Japan gave Cambodia $80 million for repairs to their roads but so far little improvement has been seen.

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