Mar 26 11

When a chair is not a chair…

by Emily Benjamin

Tickets, please.

We’re in seats 79 and 80.

Ok, up the front, next to driver. One sit up front, one on bench.


Realising that the rows of seats only made it to 78 at the back of the boat, we knew we were in for another interesting transport experience. We arrived early enough for this one – a boat ride from the east coast of Phu Quoc Island to Ha Tien, back on the mainland of Vietnam, right near the border of Cambodia – hoping that would give us priority seating for once, maybe even a window with fresh air. But alas, we were given the last two numbered seats on the boat… and someone was already sitting in one of our seats.

She looked pretty angry. She wasn’t going to move. The assistant didn’t even make an attempt to move her, or explain why she was in one of our seats. Perhaps she had also taken one look at this woman’s face and decided to leave her in peace. An hour later, while breathing deeply to avoid sea sickness, I’d be hoping that she would leave me in peace – the old witch kept falling asleep and collapsing on top of me, threatening to knock me from my precarious position at the front of the boat.

This seat wasn’t my first preference. I’d started out with a third of the captain’s seat all to myself. There were no other spare seats – in fact, I think they had sold seats 79 & 80 to at least fourteen different people, as evidenced by the overflowing cabin and plastic chairs being handed out for people in the aisle. The captain’s seat had some padding, but it was still uncomfortable. At least there was a view up front, so I could keep an eye on the horizon and try to settle my queasy stomach.

Twenty minutes into the ninety minute trip and Jamie felt queasy too. I switched seats with him, and became the human pillow for the old witch. How she was able to sleep while sitting sideways, on a hard wooden bench, in the turbulent conditions, I’ll never know. There were a few others that managed a nap as well – I was jealous.

Finally we made it to Ha Tien. We wait now for our Cambodian visas to be approved and completed, then we set off for Kep, on the coast of Cambodia. We’ve booked accommodation there for one night – for only $8. And with a now less queasy stomach, I am happy – for there will be no more boat trips in south east Asia.

— Em 🙂

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