Gearing Up to Bus it Home for Khmer New Year

Svay Soma will be waking up early, cutting through crowds and sitting in traffic jams next week as she and scores of others head home for the Khmer Year New holiday.

A 24-year-old university student in Phnom Penh, Ms Svay Soma said she usually takes buses back home to her native Kratie pro-

vince during the three-day holiday despite the fact getting a ticket and finding a seat can be a


“It is always crowded during national holidays like Khmer New Year since many people leave Phnom Penh for their homeland,” she said Thursday. “I have to get up early in the morning to buy the ticket; otherwise they will run out.”

A mass exodus from Phnom Penh is expected in the coming days as dwellers leave for the provinces to spend the Khmer New Year, which starts Tuesday, with their extended families.

Kim Yeang, an employee with GST Express Bus Co in Phnom Penh, said many people hit the roads with his bus fleet heading for destinations like Battambang, Siem Reap, Kompong Cham and Preah Sihanouk provinces, as well as Poipet.

“I cannot count the people,” he said of the anticipated crunch of passengers.

Nonetheless, Mr Kim Yeang said the bus company will keep the same number of vehicles running each day—about 15—but boost its prices by a dollar or so during Khmer New Year. For example, a trip from the capital to Siem Reap would cost $6.25 instead of the usual $5.

Over at Phnom Penh Sorya Transport, assistant manager Chhem Chomnan said most com­muters will begin buying their tickets this weekend, though a few have already done so. His company will also raise its prices, though only slightly since the dip in the international price of oil has helped keep fuel prices low.

This year, however, he is ex­pecting smaller numbers of travelers thanks to the darkening economic situation.

“Now a few people,” he said. “People do not spend a lot of money.”

Hout Malin, 24, from Kom­pong Cham province, said she and her family take buses, but usually at the cost of a few hours of sleep. Still, waking up earlier makes for a quicker journey.

“If I don’t want to be stuck in traffic jams I have to get up early and buy the ticket for the first bus home,” she said, adding that it takes her three hours to get home during an ordinary trip but much longer depending on the traffic throughout the national holiday.


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