Traveling by long-distance bus is a new experience for me, especially when the buses aren’t part of a tour company or organized specifically to fit the needs of tourists. Using public transportation and traveling with locals has been an interesting way to see the country.
Sometimes traveling with locals can get a bit dicey (so I’ve heard), but I’ve been lucky to experience only good things. The buses are comfortable and have cushioned seats, curtains on the window, reclining chair backs, adjustable A/C vents and power sources. Most of the time they aren’t packed to capacity so I’ve had two seats for myself and my things.
No one has really bothered me or tried to engage in any conversation. I’m not sure if that’s because I look unfriendly or if people just aren’t as open as in Australia or New Zealand. Or perhaps it’s because locals keep mistaking me for one of them? I’m not sure why this would happen though, because I don’t think I fit into any of the main ethnic groups (Indian, Chinese and Malay) as far as my physical features. For goodness sake, despite being Asian, I am definitely built of heartier stock than most Malaysians (I blame that on growing up on McDonalds cheeseburgers).
Traveling by bus has its ups and downs, but I’ve found that it is a wonderful way to kick back, relax and go with the flow. After all, I’m on vacation and here to see the sights. I don’t need to be lightning-quick about it and can afford to spend more time enjoying the journey.