If the zombie apocalypse started in Cambodia on a national holiday, you probably wouldn’t notice. That’s what we thought on our first day in the country!
We arrived in Phnom Penh from Phuket after a long day that involved changing planes in Bangkok. We had arranged for a driver to pick us up at the airport and take us to our hotel in Kampot.
What we didn’t realize was that we had arrived on the Saturday of a national holiday weekend, and the mass exodus of people from the city would stretch the two-hour drive into four.
Sadly it was nightfall, and with a back seat in the taxi there was no way any photos would turn out. But the humanity leaving the city is not something we will soon forget!
Mini vans jam-packed with people carried impossible loads. We saw platforms mounted on trailer hitches with six or more people sitting on them (in addition to the 10 or more inside the van) and a scooter tied on for good measure. Some people hung on to open sliding doors while the van’s contents threatened to spew into the street.
We saw an elderly lady sitting in a plastic chair facing out the back of an open van trying to catch a snooze. I suppose that was possibly safer than the people trying to sleep on the roof!
The loads were not restricted to vans. Scooters had the usual piles of bananas and livestock strapped on, but we were used to that from Vietnam.
Free entertainment was provided for all from a tractor-trailer blasting music with singing driver and passengers.
It was a lot of fun all at a snail’s pace. People waived to us when they saw us inside the taxi, and everyone was in a happy mood despite the slow inching forward.
We spent the next day hanging out at Villa Vedici to recover from the long drive, a boutique hotel on the Kampong Bay River where expats working at NGOs in Phnom Penh hang out. We have the upstairs of a private villa and a beautiful location next to the river.
On our second night a massive thunderstorm hit, which we watched from the comfort of the open air bar that cool breezes funnelled through. It was a fantastic spectacle made even more brilliant when the power went out just as the Doors’ Riders on the Storm was ending. Best thunderstorm ever!