The ticket from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh was a great deal even by Southeast Asian bus standards: $4.50 for a 6-hour ride. But it followed that unwritten bus rule of less-is-more: pay less money, get more noise.
First were the music videos, which were pretty fun. Some guys in the back started playing their radio at the same time, but our hero, the bus captain, strode down the aisle and told them to knock it off. After that came a Jet Li action movie, overdubbed into Khmer by two men with husky voices. About an hour into the show, the picture froze. Then the movie commenced again from the beginning, but with the soundtrack turned off and pop music blaring instead. After a few minutes, all attempts at movie-watching were abandoned and there was a period of blessed silence.
After dinner we were treated to a stunning sunset.
We optimistically put our headphones on and started listening to a podcast. But it was not to be. As darkness gathered, 90 minutes away from Phnom Penh, the bus driver put the radio on over the loudspeakers. I got all caught up on my Cambodian news, but I’m sad to say I didn’t understand a word of it.