Don't Be This Kind of Traveler
Traveling can be hard. There's no two ways about it. Being in a place where you don't speak the language, don't know the currency, are on timelines to get to new destinations and relying on unreliable transportation, small things out of your control seem much bigger of a deal, and you get frustrated. HOWEVER, there are still appropriate ways to act.
I was recently on a bus from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The crazy, hectic city in the middle of the country, down to the sleepy, gorgeous coast in the south. Pretty much any transportation in Cambodia passes through Phnom Penh in some way. Flights, buses, etc. The bus from Phnom Penh to the beach is about 5 hours if no traffic leaving the city and no mishaps. I knew I had to get out of Phnom Penh by April 12 as the Cambodian New Year was from April 13-16th, and everything shuts down. So booked the last bus on April 12th, a little 16 seater bus/van. It was completely full of fellow travelers. Our luggage was piled up front by the driver and the passenger front seat. The a/c was on full blast and still barely felt like it was on. Have I mentioned we are in Cambodia in April? It's the hottest time of year! I was happy we had any slight breeze at all! There was a sign for wifi on the bus which completely shocked me. There may be wifi readily available at many shops in the country, but to see it offered on a moving bus seemed far-fetched.
We left 30 minutes late (still pretty good in my mind), the a/c was on and off throughout the ride, and the wifi never worked.
None of these things drastically upset me as we are in Cambodia, it was an $11 bus ride, and what's the point of being upset there's no wifi? Look out the window at the amazing countryside!
Well, many fellow bus mates did not feel the same. Many got up to complain about the wifi being off and yell at the bus driver, who could do nothing. Then, about an hour outside of Phnom Penh, the bus broke down. We were luckily right by numerous shops, a gas station, and some sort of repair shop. All of the luggage had to be moved out of the way, we all got off the bus as the air became stale and non-moving, and the driver and local shop owners went to work.
Roughly an hour and half later, after someone went off on a moped to find the right size V-8 belt to fit the engine, they had it repaired and we were on our way. At the end of the day, it was not a big deal. We were able to sit, have some water and chat amongst ourselves in the meantime. But the people on our bus were constantly complaining. It seemed so pointless to me. What could be done? We weren't stranded in the middle of no where. We were in the shade. Our bus driver was doing everything he could. And he probably just wanted to get to our destination as badly as the rest of us. He had to get to his family's for the New Year celebrations more than we needed to get to our beach-front guest houses.
A couple hours later, we had a scheduled stop at a rest area with great restaurants and clean bathrooms. I looked forward to this and was eager to hop off and grab some refreshments. Our fellow bus mates took the opportunity to confirm we weren't breaking down again, and it was indeed, scheduled.
Don't be like those travelers. Embrace the uncertainty of where you are. A bus breaking down isn't uncommon. No wifi on a bus in any country is not uncommon. Being on the last bus out of town when everyone is hurrying to get somewhere (imagine traveling over the Christmas holidays in many countries) is already going to be a guaranteed crazy travel day. Understand that beforehand and don't add to the stress. What's the point of traveling and being in a new place if you can't handle the smallest inconvenience? Especially when the pay-off is the photo below.
Travel well, everyone.
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Danielle Desnoyers is a traveling freelance photographer with a focus on humanitarian, travel, and family photography. She currently splits her time between the United States and Vietnam with travels to other countries as well.