Saturday, December 29, 2012

The trip with the locals

The road to Banlung

An air conditioned minivan sounded like such a desirable way to travel the 240k from Kratie to Banlung. But wait we are in Cambodia. Departure 8:00... On time indeed and van was 1/2 full - looking good. We learned out $7 pp ticket was for 4 people in a seat made for 3. Seriously? Charge $14 and give me a whole seat. Too late.

On we go. We drop off a small child at at school, picks up a guy and drop him off at work, detour and pick up 2 girls around 10 wearing pjs (which is quite common) and go back to town.

Devine 15 min and just when we are discussing taking and extra seat behind us where there are 2 small Cambodians vs 4 large Americans we stop.

I see 5 guys, moto, chainsaw, bag with what looks like 100 coconuts and a bag of rice so heavy it takes 2. Hmmm we only have seats for 3 and no more room for luggage, but this is Cambodia. Soon we have a van for 12 with 20 people, 100 coconuts, rice, chainsaw and a moto strapped to the back of the van. Seriously do I laugh or cry. 4 hours is looking like at least 6.

So off we go 1/2 on a seat. So the good news is there is AC, no one has a chicken, music is decent although cannot understand a word, no one smells bad (yet) and no one is smoking.

Random stop for lunch at undisclosed place. JD and Riley, adventurous eaters sampled the local fare of pork and rice. John feeling better has a Korean energy drink and me a stout and Korean energy drink. Back in the bus and we added 2 more. 22 people in a bus made for 12.

10 miles later we dropped of a family of 7 and their coconuts, fruits and veggies at a random turn off. 1 mile later the camp guy gets out and 2 miles later the guy with liters of gas, straw mat and a bag of coconuts. We still have the moto, machetes and the chainsaw and now 10 people in a car made for 12!

The last hour was delightful as we dropped a few more someplace, I am losing track now, but we had 5 people in a van made for 12.

Arrival in Banlung, NE Cambodia - very near the Laos border. Now that we are in a lakeside bungalow overlooking the lake it was not that bad. It was a true local adventure. Four of the guys were young and headed to a logging camp, hence the chainsaw. The family - not sure about them. Few other random dudes and the final few were 2 ladies we dropped at a guesthouse and the 2 girls ( the ones in pj's) were taken to what appears to their moms house for a nice reunion. All this deducted with zero English.