It was sadly the day to leave Thailand, for a massive group rendezvous in Cambodia. Freddie and I hopped on cheap Air Asia flights from Krabi to Bangkok, where we were to meet his girlfriend Kim. He text her saying what time we were due to arrive, but that as the flights were being temperamental we could in theory land at any time. This gave her a ‘big window’ in which to meet us at the arrivals gate, he said.
When we landed we finally managed to track down a bamboozled Kim. She had somehow totally misinterpreted what Freddie had said, and had spent an hour searching the airport for a ‘big window’.
But at least we had finally met up together, and hopped on a collective flight to Cambodia.
We were due to be meeting our friends in Otres Village, just down the road from Sihanoukville on the Cambodian Coast. We had assumed this would be a 30-40 minute taxi ride. But instead we found out it was 3-4 hours. Fortunately the two friends in Otres making the arrangements had organised a taxi driver for us.
What proceeded next were 4 of the most terrifying hours of my life. Our driver, ‘G’, was an excellent driver, especially going by the Cambodian standards I would later find out. Yet the entire journey was spent careening down a two way road, overtaking huge articulated lorries every 30 seconds. Of course the traffic going the other direction was doing the same, which meant every overtake was a life or death game of chicken, in which it was down to the driver to predict the precise timing it would take to inch further up the road. G would rage up behind a truck, flash his lights wildly, then poke the nose of his car out into the oncoming traffic. This way he could check if there was traffic coming. I’m sure you can imagine the problem with this. If he timed it wrong, we were dust.
If the coast were clear he’d quickly swing out and slam his foot on the accelerator, pelting it past the truck as he flashed his lights in a series that denoted some common language I could never work out. Speeding up to the front of the truck, by now with oncoming traffic visibly coming towards us in the distance, he would only then find out what was in front of the truck. Invariably this would end up being another truck. And G would face the decision. Try to edge in between these two trucks without getting pulverised, or slam the accelerator even harder and overtake the next truck. Both of these options were just as terrifying as each other. My nerves ran thick with electric current.
To top all this off there were a ridiculous amount of motorbikes on the road, driving like maniacs. One guy was sat about two feet behind the truck in front, with no helmet on and chatting away merrily on his phone. As the truck overtook another he pulled out behind it, still two feet behind it and STILL ON HIS PHONE! Literally if anything had caused that driver to even gently stroke his brakes the mobile phone moped man would be gone from this planet forever.
To add another addition to this terror, it very quickly got dark. This meant it was practically impossible for G to see anyone crossing the road until we were basically on them. Slamming his brakes to prevent mass carnage and taking out entire families. And of course G kept informing us just how tired he was, and buying Cambodian red bull in a vague attempt to fight off the fatigue.
But eventually, with the utmost relief, we made it to Otres Village. To Otres Long Beach Bungalows. And there before us were 15 of our friends from home. Sitting and chatting merrily. Ready with hugs. And most importantly they had a crate of Angkor Beer. Immediately it became evident. Every single second of the terror ride with G had been worth it.