The 4000 Islands are in the very south of Laos, where it borders Cambodia, so Cambodia was naturally my next stop. We boarded a bus to Siem Reap and the SEA nonsense quickly began. We were herded into two minivans for the border, which was only about 15 minutes away. These minivans actually weren’t too bad, but of course they weren’t the ones we’d actually be riding in for the long haul (noticing a pattern here: nice transport for the beginning, then switch to awful transport…maybe because if people saw what they paid for before they got on, they’d demand money back or something?). The border was a typical hilarious chaotic shitshow of nervously handing over our passports, short barked orders, and not knowing what’s going on. The entrance visa for Cambodia was $37 (for the US). I’d heard that you should only hand over exact change, because if you handed over $40 for example, they’d probably invent some “fee” so you didn’t get money back (welcome to Scambodia, as I’ve heard it called). Strangely, after getting our visas, they kinda just pointed us in a direction to walk, and we walked for a couple minutes through these empty parking lots towards a bunch of stores (the “pickup spot” I guess) that probably should have been a lot closer to the crossing point… That was a little strange, and probably an accurate introduction to Cambodia.
On the other side, there was a bus waiting, but we weren’t allowed to get on for a while because the AC was broken and they were fixing the bus. When we finally got on and left, after about…half an hour? we made another stop at some random place, and were herded out again. Apparently the bus had kicked it, and they were sending for a backup. 15 minutes, they told us. Welp, those “15 minutes” turned out to be more like 2 hours, as everyone got more restless and cranky. Eventually two minivans pulled up, but not nice ones like before…truly terrible ones, with not enough space. I was lucky to get my own seat: in the front seat of our minivan, one girl had to sit on another girl’s lap for about 5 hours. About 3 minutes into the minivan ride, the driver picked up his phone, and after chatting for a minute, pulled over to the side of the road. Oh no, we thought…what nonsense is about to happen? He picked up another guy, who he then sat on the lap of, in the front seat. This goddamn country.