Cambodian Bus Rides

Had an interesting day today: I buy a ticket for the 2:45pm mini bus being told it is 2-2.5 hour ride from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh. I buy my ticket early (for once) and am told I’m seat #1. When I get to the bus station there’s a bus sitting there so I go to get on it and I’m told that’s not my bus.

So I sit down with my pack to wait. Naturally, I’m a couple minutes early. I ask how long the ride is and I’m told 4 hours. Yikes. But that the regular sized bus is at least 6 hours.

Then a man gets off that bus screaming and yelling about how they are an hour late (it was the 1:45pm bus) and he’s ranting about how could there be more people coming, the bus is full! So when I’m told to get on the bus with another man who was also awaiting the 2:45, I’m quite surprised. There is hardly any room on this mini-bus. There’s a family of four occupying 2 seats and there’s one seat in the back corner which I’m not taking. The other option is the front seat which is already occupied by a mother & daughter. They have moved to the middle front. I opt for option b.

Now I understand why the mini bus is so much faster. This guy is driving like a maniac. Overtaking everyone in the opposite lane. There are a couple near crashes which lead me to put my headphones on & close my eyes. Ignorance is bliss. Kind of. At least we are making good time.

So we have our midway rest stop. And the mother sitting next to me buys her and her daughter a massive bag of durian chips. Durian is already the stinkiest fruit in the world and these chips are equally as gross. A bit later the girl starts coughing and the mom grabs a plastic bag. This is a bag sign.

If anyone knows me, they know my phobia of throwing up myself or anyone around me throwing up in an enclosed space. And I have a terrible track record. My sister doesn’t understand how this always happens to me, and yet, it does.

So as I’m now prepared for, the little girl starts puking everywhere. All over herself and her mom. To be fair, she got some of it in the bags. It is a tight fit on the bus though and some gets on my bare thigh. Kill me.

Finally a couple people get off the bus, so I move to the back of the bus thinking it will be better and I ask a couple girls in the back how it has been and before they can even answer, I look down and see bags of vomit on the floor. What. The. F*ck.

Anyhow, if I’m posting this, I made it to Phnom Penh without further incident. Off to Myanmar tomorrow! I’m gonna try to get back to blogging but if you want to keep up to date, follow my Instagram (@eorlins) or my twitter (@eorlins).


  1. Susan Orlins
    May 15, 2013

    You were once that girl, throwing up on people–I guess we all were!

    On a serious note, did it occur to you to abandon that bus when it stopped or sooner, based on the dangerous driving?

    A mother worries. Remember the time you were in Colombia and hadn’t tweeted for a day and I was sure you were locked in the trunk of a drug lord’s sedan? (

    Glad you made it.
    <3 <3

  2. Z
    May 15, 2013

    Keep it up with the blog, eliza. Hope I get some tips for my Asian backpack trip this year.

  3. Matt
    May 15, 2013

    U live to tell the tale. Brings back memories of this time a grown man had literally shat himself and caused the entire busload of passengers to move to the back half of the bus!

  4. Shawn Pooley
    May 19, 2013

    Hey Eliza…

    Shawn here, we’ve done a few interviews together back in the day (I’m Fairplays radio producer friend). I have been to Cambodia four times, I love it there. There is something about it that just keeps calling me back. I have several close friends there, mainly in Phnom Penh and I also sponsor a woman in Siem Reap who is a dear friend.

    If you are interested in some Cambodian contacts, let me know. (I submitted my email above). I have a Canadian friend there who works for Save The Children, and an American friend who runs the local English speaking Radio station (97.5 Love FM)

    Also, to avoid further travel issues, once you get into Phnom Penh, I recommend Giant Ibis. Here is their website.

    They are about year old now. Nice large buses, Wi-Fi, and only about $12-13 to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh. Best of luck on the rest of your journey.


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