Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The joys of travelling in Asia - Part 2

I wrote my last blog while waiting for a bus in a filthy restaurant on the side of the highway somewhere in northern Cambodia.  Well, eventually the bus came.  The only problem was the bus came, then went, without stopping.  I'd been sitting there anxiously anticipating the bus for three hours only to see it hurl past in a cloud of exhaust fumes.  Alarmed, I asked the only person in the restaurant who seemed to be able to speak any english, a girl of about 18, whether that was, in fact, my bus.  She didn't reply but promptly jumped on the back of a motorbike and motioned for me to jump on too.

With my 17 kilogram backpack on my back we rode away from the restaurant (hooray!) and swiftly turned down the red dirt road to the town of Ban Lung in pursuit of the bus.  At first I thought we might actually catch the bus and I had visions of myself being forced to do an action-hero type leap from the motorbike into the open door of the bus with my huge backpack.  However, in reality the bus was getting smaller and smaller on the horizon and our little motorbike was never going to have enough juice to catch it.

Immediately I imagined myself being forced to sleep on the floor of the dirty restaurant for the night and I started wishing I'd rationed my Oreos because if I had to eat the restaurant food I'm sure I'd be stuck there even longer, struck down by serious food poisoning. 

I jumped off the bike and the young girl started dialling numbers on her two mobile phones.  After about the sixth phone call she motioned to me to get back on the bike.  We clattered down the dirt road for a few kilometres and my spirits lifted when I saw the now stationary bus come into view.  I think I let out an audible sigh of relief.  I thanked my saviour in very poor Khmer and bounced onto the bus.  I didn't even mind having to climb over the bags of rice and tools piled up in the aisle, I was just glad to be on my way and not sitting in that restaurant.

I spent the next half hour engaged in a conversation with a Cambodian man about sunscreen.  It just happened he was a sales representative for the Australian sunscreen brand, Hamilton.  He was extremely eager to hear about the cost and types of sunscreens in Australia and was excited when I whipped out a tube of "Banana Boat Sensitive" for him to try.  For the rest of the bumpy three hour ride down the dirt road I sat next to an older Cambodian lady who would periodically point at my white skin (which I think is actually a lot browner than usual!) and smile broadly at me.  Sitting at the restaurant earlier in the day I'd had serious doubts about whether I would enjoy my time in Cambodia but if the friedly locals on the bus were anything to go by, I was certain to have a good time!

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