If you’ve done a bit of travelling backpacker-style, then you’ve been there: The unknown amount of hours on what they call a ‘chicken bus’, the local bus in the country where water doesn’t flow freely in every home, and air conditioning is reserved for those that pay extra… and yet, the chicken bus is what sticks in your memory the most!
So, why a chicken bus? Well, when you’re on a budget, and the bus costs about 1/3 of the price of a luxury tourist bus, it’s pretty much a no-brainer!
- ‘Never Again’ — it’s the first five minutes of the drive. Rubbish is already all over the floor from left over takeaway food containers everyone has been munching on. The smells of different foods all mixing together is making your stomach turn. It’s hot. There’s no aircon, and you can already feel the sun beating down on the tin roof of the cramped bus.
- ‘It’s not SOO bad’– No, of course it’s not! You hear the locals yapping away at each other, probably gossipping about their neighbour’s dinner, there’s a bit of a breeze coming in from the window that only opens a crack, you pull out your book or gaze out into the countryside– this is what life is all about!
- ‘WAIT WHAT?!’ — you’ve stopped at a roadside town and suddenly swarms of people are climbing over each other to reach your little window, with bananas, coconuts, water, biscuits, and all sorts to sell to you.
- ‘I did not sign up for this!’– 10 people have now come onto the bus despite no one having gotten off the full bus to begin with… you shuffle in your seat and now there’s 3.5 of you sat where only two of you should be sat. Wah! Personal space is seriously compromised!
- ‘I’m getting off at the next stop I don’t care where we are!’ — You’re three hours into your twelve-hour journey. There’s no way you can actually get off the bus at the next stop, but you tell yourself that you own’t put up with this for so long! You huff and puff for a little while, a little angry.
- ‘Oh… thanks… that’s… so kind of you!’ A local offers you some food, despite not speaking any English, and it’s the warmest smile you’ve seen in years, with the kindest eyes. This is not so bad after all. People are amazing and this is truly the reason that you came out to travel to begin with! And hey, the food’s not so bad either! It’s actually pretty tasty!
- ‘Yeah… I don’t think I’ll do this again anytime soon but it’s opened my eyes’ — You feel like you have a better understanding of how this country works and you are on top of the world! … This is why we travel. For the smiles, for the ‘OMG’s’, and for knowing that you just travelled hundreds of miles across beautiful landscapes in a shaky tin bus! Oh and trust me, you’ll get on a chicken bus again!