The trip to Kampot was interesting from the start. Leaving my guesthouse at 10:00 meant that I would need to take a mini-bus instead of an actual bus-bus. The moto (motorcycle taxi) to the minibus station was an adventure in its own right. With a 25kg pack on my back, a daypack in front of me and a walking stick in my hand, the trip over alternately bumpy and gridlocked roads wasn’t an easy one.
Upon arriving at the station (in one of Phnom Penh’s many markets) my moto driver found a minibus headed where I wanted to go. At this point I should explain that “minibus” doesn’t mean a small bus, which sells tickets to passengers and runs on a regular schedule. The minibuses in Cambodia wait until they’re full of passengers headed for the same destination (or at least in the same direction) and head off immediately afterwards.
My pack was stowed (which is to say tied onto the back of the minibus, since the small luggage compartment was already overflowing) I managed to buy some bread and bottled water (actually with the number of vendors coming up and sticking their wares in the minibus windows, you’d be hard pressed to avoid it) and within a few minutes we were off.
There were several stops throughout town, picking up additional passengers, and by the time we were on the highway out of town there were four more than when we’d departed the station. Bringing the total to a barely credible twenty-two. Yes, you did read that right. In a vehicle pretty much the size of a Volkswagen van, there were crammed almost two dozen people. Four in the front seats, eight in the second row of seats (four on the seats, four facing them on an improvised bench,) five in my row (including a baby in his mother’s arms,) four in the back row and one standing up leaning out the side window.
Once again, I didn’t see much of the countryside during this trip.
Eventually the crowd started to thin out a bit, and I did manage a brief conversation with the one English speaker on the bus before he disembarked. Finally after an eternity on the bus (as it seemed to my alternately painful and numb bottom. It was really just over three hours) someone indicated to me that we’d arrived in Kampot.