Everybody back home seems to think that long term travel is glamorous. They see the Instagram posts and imagine that every aspect of travel is just as beautiful as that sunset or that beach or that rainforest.
And sometimes travel is glamorous.
I’ve spent many an afternoon lounging by a hotel pool with a cocktail in my hand while everybody I know back in the UK is at work. But there is one aspect of travelling around South East Asia that I HATE and that, my friends, is the buses.
Night buses in Asia are literally the worst part of travelling.
You see, catching a bus in Asia isn’t quite the same as it is in the UK. For one, they usually take all night, literally, to get to their destination. This is especially true if you’re travelling through Vietnam or Cambodia.
And what’s so bad about that?
First off, there is always a high chance that you’re going to crash and die, and I’m not joking. Bus drivers in SE Asia are notorious for falling asleep at the wheel (mainly because their working day starts at about 7am so they’ve been driving for a while), and even if your driver does manage to stay conscious, you can be fairly certain that he’ll be speeding down the wrong side of the unlit road with no headlights or concern that what he’s doing is slightly dangerous.
Because, well, Asia.
Another reason that night buses are the worst part of travelling is that more often than not, they will decide to stop somewhere at 2am so that everyone can change buses. This is because the bus companies like to pack on people going to entirely different parts of Asia, and so once they’ve taken you all so far, you have to disembark with your heavy backpack and stand outside for about an hour with no explanation as to what you’re waiting for or which bus you’re supposed to get onto next.
Something that Cambodian bus drivers in particular love doing is dropping you off at a service station at some ungodly hour, and then driving off without checking if everybody is back on the bus! Yes, this happened to my friend and I, yes, everything that we owned in the world was still on the bus, and yes, we had to chase after it screaming like banshees and waving for it to stop.
A particularly lovely little treat is when people from the bus company actually go into the luggage compartment and rummage through everybody’s bags looking for money and valuables. You’ve gotta love the Vietnamese for that.
Oh, and another thing?
Lying down with your blanket and pillow, only to find that your face has dirt on it when you get up! Then there’s the thrill of being told that the bus is overbooked and sorry but you’re going to have to spend the next 16 hours squished in the aisle.
If that isn’t enough to persuade you that night buses are truly wonderful, don’t worry – I haven’t got to the part where single girls are often placed in beds with random local guys who proceed to grope and assault them for the entire journey (but of course you’re not allowed to move – you have to remain in your designated seat!). Then of course, there’s the constant blaring of the horn, seemingly for no other reason than the fact that Asians just bloody love beeping their horns at every opportunity.
Have I put you off yet?
Night buses in South East Asia are, in my opinion, the absolute worst part of travelling. I can deal with head lice, bed bugs, mosquito bites and being sick all the time. I can deal with being ripped off and losing things and thunderstorms. I can even deal with knowing that I risk being bitten by a King Cobra every time I go to a beach party in my second home, Koh Rong. But what I cannot deal with are the night buses.
What are your pet peeves about travelling? Please share in the comments below as I’d love to hear what grinds everybody else’s gears!