Vietnam —–> Cambodia
Bus rides were never the best experiences while traveling through Viet Nam. The drivers were usually pretty mean to westerners. Even with assigned seats, we would get shoved in the back (closest to the nasty smelling on-board restroom). They would yell at us in Vietnamese and/or ignore us.
The bus ride from Saigon to Sihanoukville started out like all the others. We took a night bus, so boarded at about 11pm to start our 12 hour ride. We decided to save a bit of money and not book through our hostel (mistake #1). Since the hostel was on a street with a ton of travel agencies we thought we’d try our luck. The one we found was pretty cheap and got us in at a reasonable hour without having to wait at the boarder crossing for it to open. They said we would be dropped off on one side of the boarder by the sleeper bus and a mini bus would take us across and to our destination. If only it were that simple (mistake #2)!
At about 4am (earlier than expected) we arrive at a bus station. It was still dark out and there were virtually no people around. The bus driver tells us this is where we get out, throws our bags out of the cargo area and gets back on the bus. We attempt to ask him where we were supposed to go (showing him our tickets). His response? To shout angrily in Vietnamese and point to a mini van that is already packed full of people and luggage… hmmm. When we went over to the van the driver, like the other, shouted at us, pointed at the inside and slammed the door in our faces… then proceeded to drive away. Perfect. So now little me (half asleep from a sleeping pill I took), and my little blonde friend are in a dark, abandoned bus station in God knows where at 4am (minus a few Vietnamese men who look like they are going somewhere to load fishing gear up and speak zero english).
In that moment I was actually worried. The situation did not feel comfortable. I told Amber (my friend) to act like we knew what we were doing there and hopefully the bus would come back. It took about 45 minutes but, finally, it came back! As if things couldn’t get more sketch, this driver makes his way to a travel agency and tells everyone but us to get out. Drives BACK to the bus station and BACK to the travel agency one more time. All the while answering our questions with a wave of his hand, as if he didn’t want us to talk or ask him anything. Honestly, I was scared. We had no phones, we really had no idea where we were (Cambodia? Viet Nam?), no one else knew where we were, it was dark, and the driver was a maniac. Vulnerability at it’s finest!
Luckily, he took us to a different, random, travel agency, just as the sun was coming up, who ended up taking us across the boarder. So maybe it wasn’t as terrible as I was thinking it could have been… but hey.. you never know!