I’m on a bus heading north along the bumpy Cambodian roads. The AC is so ferocious that people are wearing scarfs inside the bus despite it being a hot day outside. Karaoke is playing on a video screen at the front of the bus and the speaker above my head has a lose connection so the terrible music (which all seems to be a variation of the same song) comes in ear shattering bursts depending on how bumpy the road is.
Being subjected to this for hour upon hour would probably be classified as torture by the UN, but in Asia this is premier class travel. When there aren’t enough seats a man appears from the dark recesses of the buses bowls with a small plastic chair that he places in the isle.
The bus rarely stops, it just swerves and bounces its way along the road honking at slower vehicles. Respite comes in the form of a couple of dirty rest stops en-route where the food looks only marginally less scary than the toilets. On the outside wall of the kitchen at one of those rest stops the words “no piss” have been daubed in paint indicating that the kind of business they’re used to here is a long way from business class.
Sure, I could take a plane from place to place and enjoy the clinical white light safety of an charmless airport with its brand name foods and uniformed staff, but I prefer the wild and hectic rides you find on the roads and railways.