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Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Profit making on the buses

I found my dentist. His surgery is in another part of town but still walkable from International Guest House. I had my first appointment with him on Monday morning. I need to return for root-canal treatment twice a week for about three weeks. He'll be working on the tooth next to the one that the dentist in Mahasarakham treated and crowning them both.

After my Monday morning appointment I took the bus to Kompong Chhnang. The KC bus service no longer operates. If you want to get a bus to KC now, you have to take one of the buses that goes to the towns beyond Kompong Chhnang. The Soriya Bus Service has made a few other changes too. I always wondered if the bus service made money. The bus was staffed by a driver and a conductor. Most people got on the bus at Phnom Penh (on the outward journey anyway) and paid at the bus station. So the conductor's main duty was to check your ticket as you got on the bus. They usually picked up one or two passengers along the 90 kilometre journey. But the conductor was hardly run off her feet.

In Thailand they have a similar system but the conductors who dress up like flight attendants serve you refreshments, such as they are. Even then I think they're superfluous.

I always wondered if Soriya trust their staff because once or twice along the way an inspector would get on to check the tickets. So there were a lot of people employed on those buses.

But this has all changed. We no longer have the little school-bus sized vehicle on the KC run. We get a real bus with comfortable full-size seats. I bought my ticket at the counter in Phnom Penh and showed it to the conductor who left the bus before it left the terminus. There were no ticket inspections. I had a comfortable ride and arrived in KC just before a mother of a storm hit.

I headed for Holiday Guesthouse but it's not there anymore. Never mind, they still have rooms and are happy to accommodate an old friend.

I've been enjoying the smiles of my friends for a couple of days and today returned to PP so I can make my 9 am appointment tomorrow with Dr Chum. The first bus that came along this morning was a GST Express. I waved, it stopped so I got on. It did have a conductor who showed me my seat and then disappeared for five minutes. When he returned he gave me a crumpled ticket and asked for $3. That's 50 cents more than Soriya charged to get me there.

Somehow I thought the ticket looked a bit sus. I was hoping an inspector would not come on board or one of us would have some explaining to do. When I got to PP I checked the ticket. It was dated 23 August. (Today is August 25.)

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