“The road to success is always under construction.” – Lily Tomlin
Where is the worst road you’ve ever traveled on? I would contend the lousiest road in the world is between the Thai border and Siem Reap in Cambodia. This is a terrible road! I mean, it’s really, really awful. The ruts and holes could swallow a cow. However, it’s also the most-direct overland route between Thailand and Siem Reap, the gateway to Angkor Wat. When you’re on a tight budget, as my friend Cenzo and I are at the time, sometimes direct is more important than comfortable.
Here’s how it works. You arrive at the border, show your Cambodian visa, and enter the country on foot. You’re soon ushered over to a series of pick up trucks – take your choice and pay the driver. You can choose to sit inside, squished in the back behind the driver on seats with no springs, or outside, in the flat bed of the truck. Neither choice even resembles comfort. Inside the airless cab, it’s cramped, hot and sweaty. Outside, it’s hot and extraordinarily dusty. We choose the cab.
The journey is everything you might expect. Our truck breaks down – twice. When it’s actually running, the vehicle must ply an impossibly rutted roadway, with no distinguishable lanes or traffic rules. If the potholes are too deep on the right side, you just drive on the left side, and vice versa. If the roadway becomes impassible, you just swerve into the fields and carve a side path for as long as you need. This is not a road; it’s a battlefield.
When we finally arrive at Siem Reap, about 5 hours later, Cenzo and I are hot and sweaty; we can barely walk from the saddle sore. But the folks outside have it much worse. Their faces are so caked with dust and road grime that you would swear they are some kind of alien mud creatures. The wise ones had worn bandanas over their heads, so that they only look like Bedouins coming in from a desert storm.
Personally, I’m about as uncomfortable as I’ve ever been in my life. But I’m also pretty elated. What an adventure! What a story! Our road to success was definitely under construction!!
(What’s your Road to Angkor Wat? How bumpy was the surface? How uncomfortable was the ride? And how worth it was it? If you’re just at the start of a difficult journey, rest assured that it’ll be worth the effort. At the least, you’ll have a great story to share!)