After visiting Phnom Penh, I was ready to head to Siem Reap, the town where travelllers stay when visiting the Temples of Angkor. According to my research, there were countless travel agents selling tickets for this popular route, on several different bus lines. The advertised price for the journey was anything from $7 to $10 USD, depending on the company being used.
Rather than trying to locate a reputable travel agent on my own, and also to prevent being scammed, I decided to ask for information at the check-in counter of my guesthouse. I was then recommended to use Sorya bus line, and I was quoted a special fare of $6. I thought this was quite a good deal, so I paid for the ticket, and pocketed my receipt which I would need to board the bus.
I woke early the next morning, seeing that my bus was to leave the station at 6:30am. When I arrived at the bus station, I noticed that there was already quite a crowd of people who were waiting to get on. Some like me, had minimum luggage, while others looked as if they were planning on staying forever! These people had to store their heavy bags in a compartment at the bottom of the bus. The rest of us were allowed to board, after being handed a seat number.
After everyone was seated, the driver's assistant came through the aisle, handing out bottled water and packets or disinfectant wipes. I'm still not quite sure what the wipes were for, but I accepted mine anyway. The moment the driver started the bus, the aircondition kicked in, and the bus became many degrees cooler. We pulled out of the station on time, and started our long bus ride, which we were told would take six hours.
The bus itself was in pretty good condition, although it was far from new. It had a very interesting colour scheme, with its blue seats and purple head rest covers. There were also curtains made from a light fabric that were hanging from the windows, which had a pretty design in the colours: blue, white, purple and green. These helped to give the bus a homey feel, which I guess is important, seeing that it's your mobile home for half a day.
There was a small flatscreen television which was at the front of the bus, and there was an Asian karate movie playing in the local language. Instead of trying to watch and guess what was going on in the movie, I was content to simply stare out of my window. The scenery of the Cambodian countryside was utterly fascinating.
Due to the rainy season, the rice paddies were a brilliant shade of green, and water buffaloes worked tirelessly in the fields. There were thousands of tall palm trees peppering the landscape, and they looked like a different species of palms which I've never seen before. Stilt houses were perched on wetlands, where young children leaped off their verandahs into pools of rain water below. I was hypnotized.
During the journey, the bus made several stops, letting off passengers and picking up new ones. I later realized that this was not a tourist 'express' bus, which would take a shorter time and cost a few dollars more. I was on the economy bus which the locals used as well. This was quite fine with me, as I made friends with the locals and even bounced an adorable toddler on my knee for over an hour. Friendly people will always make time fly.
The bus arrived into Siem Reap about an hour longer than the proposed time, but I was happy that we made it safely. We were dropped off near the main street, and I hired a tuk tuk to take me to my guesthouse for the evening. The journey was pleasant, and the views along the way were nothing short of stunning!