The Problem With Buses

by Brenna Holeman

From Jaisalmer to Jodhpur, India

There was this bus, the infamous bus with the crazy horn. There was also the night-bus I took from Vientiane to Phonsavan which blared Lao music for the solid twelve hours, or the night-bus in Malaysia on which the lady behind me would not let me recline my seat. There was another night-bus through Thailand where the driver and his friend chatted obnoxiously the entire time. There was the bus through the Philippines where they crammed twelve people in a eight-seater, or the one in Mexico that didn’t even give me a seat, but made me sit on a cage full of chickens. Most recently I took a very uncomfortable bus across the island of Java where I was squashed into the middle seat at the front, with a (broken) air-conditioning unit at my feet and a wobbly gearshift at my right. All in all, sometimes travelling is really difficult and really uncomfortable, especially by bus. Sometimes the music or the bus or its patrons are incredibly loud, sometimes it is too hot, sometimes it is too cold, sometimes one of its tires goes flat. And, without fail, it is always late to arrive.

But sometimes you see really amazing scenery. Sometimes you meet really cool people. And sometimes, if you’re extra lucky, there is a person by your side that you adore, and that makes everything okay, that makes everything bearable, not to mention the feeling you get when you arrive in a new destination, ready for a new adventure.

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Paula July 14, 2011 - 3:57 pm

I can relate to your bus travel nightmares… I live in Uganda and do quite a bit of bus travelling – and sometimes it’s just a little too unpleasant!

Also i really love your blog! I’m always checking in to read about your adventures 🙂 I hope i’ll get to travel extensively at some point in my life but for now i’m living vicariously through u 🙂

p.s. if u ever decide to do an Africa tour be sure to pass through Uganda 🙂 It’s pretty beautiful here 🙂 🙂

thatbackpacker July 14, 2011 - 7:51 pm

Oh dear! That horn would have driven me crazy.

I also travelled by bus through India. It was an overnight drive to Goa and our bus driver was blaring music at 2am. I wanted to tell him to put it down, but no one else seemed to mind and I didn’t want to be the annoying foreigner…

kls July 15, 2011 - 6:30 am

sometimes the bus drops you and your best friend off and you don’t know where you are, and no taxis will pick you up until you cry…. xoxoxox

Cherry July 15, 2011 - 7:26 am

What about the bus that won’t stop at a gas station so you could pee? Even if you begged the conductor a thousand times? We were on our way back to Saigon after doing the Mekong River cruise and I thought I couldn’t make it. It didn’t help my seatmate kept on making me laugh. 🙂 Maybe I didn’t want to embarrass myself.

Ekua July 15, 2011 - 8:29 pm

Ah, bus travel. I always go on them with intentions of sleeping, but there is always something to prevent that – temperature, music, police check points, etc. I have never had a crazy horn though! As far as my personal travels go, Bolivia wins for the worst bus rides – narrow mountain roads, running out of gas, broken seats, broken AC, hours and hours of pan flute music. But the scenery was incredible and inspiring and it made for some interesting stories in the end!

This Battered Suitcase July 16, 2011 - 11:52 am

Paula – Thank you so much for your comment! I would love to go to Uganda, it has always been a dream of mine.

Thatbackpacker – Why does nobody else ever seem to mind the blaring music???

Kerri – OHMYGOD bus ride from hell. I have actually blocked that one out of my mind and so didn’t include it in my list. Oh Romania, what delights you had in store for us…

Cherry – That is one of my biggest fears when getting on a bus! I don’t know what I would do in that situation…

Ekua – I am dying to go to Bolivia, despite the condition of the buses! Sometimes you really just have to look on the upside of things; with travel, there’s always a silver lining, right?? As you said, at least there are always some amazing stories after the fact…


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