This day was our most epic adventure yet!!! We jumped on a bus at midnight Wednesday night with our truck searching crew: Christine, Adrian, Jimmy, Meng (mechanic) and Brus Lee (Jimmy's friend) - headed for Phnom Penh! We were on a sleeper bus (includes pillow + blanket!) which was a bonus as we were actually able to get some sleep! We arrived in Phnom Penh at 6am, met our local tuk tuk driver Sophea and set off to get some breakfast to start the day! Adrian & I rocked our Cambodian scarves to protect ourselves from the city's pollution - last time we were here in January, I got shocking asthma!
Sophea drove us to the outskirts of the city where there was a large handful of second-hand truck yards. We stopped at the first one, saw a few trucks that looked ideal. I nearly had a heart attack when we asked how much a pretty old bomb was, and was told $13,000 USD. Ummmmmmm......no. Either this guy was taking us for a ride (probably saw an opportunity to rip off some silly westerners) or the prices were higher than we anticipated and it wasn't looking good. We looked at a few more, asked if we could start the engine on one that had a more comfortable front cabin (as opposed to most trucks) and we were told they would put a battery in it and start it up if we were serious about buying it. Wow how different things are over here! Such a learning experience. We moved on to another yard.
The next one had a decent amount of trucks with the same kind of comfortable front cabin that we liked at the first yard. Navy blue seemed to be the theme, and we saw 3-4 of this type we liked, so we started popping the hoods and seeing how they looked mechanically.
In the second yard we visited, we found one (the newest of the bunch!) that looked in the best condition and seemed good mechanically (we got to start this one up, and a few others! This place was alot more accomodating!). So we started asking about price. This one was a 3 tonne truck with a tray, no box on the back. And we wanted an enclosed box on the back for the purposes of storing all the chaibles and also school supplies, protected from weather! So we went on to ask if we could have a box from another truck, added onto the truck we liked.........and the bargaining began! Adrian did all the negotiating as the truck yard owner happened to speak reasonable English. After bargaining as hard as possible... we weren't entirely happy with the seller's last price. So we thought we would try the ol' let's just walk away and see what happens trick. It didn't work, they didn't run after us hahahaha. So we went for lunch to go and discuss it further.
We returned, with the plan to make one last offer, $250 less than the seller's last price from earlier. He didn't budge. We then went on to explain what the truck was for, etc etc and he also went on to explain we had the newest model in the yard and it was in very good mechanical condition. After a bit more back and forth, Adrian and the seller agreed on a price we were all happy with. And we had a SALE!!!!!
This wasn't just any usual vehicle sale either. We were amazed that the final price included (after negotiations of course):
- the box from another truck that we liked the look of
- a full service prior to purchase
- the panel beating of a dint we found on the bonnett
- new back tyres (the ones on the vehicle already, had metal spikes in them - apparently this truck used to courier through snow in South Korea - most vehicles in Cambodia are imported)
And then we were told the yard staff could have it all done and ready to drive away by the end of the day. Talk about efficiency! We then sat and watched for the next 4hrs as these hardworking mechanics, panel beaters and spray painters turned our vehicle into a second hand truck with a full makeover! They took the tray off the original truck, cleaned, sanded and resprayed the whole chassis, put the new box on (they had a huge crane in the yard!), fixed the dint, replaced the drivers seat with a newer one, repaired some small rust spots, patched up paint, completed the service and cleaned and resprayed all the tyres! It was such an incredible team effort, we were blown away and stoked that we had the opportunity to watch the whole process. There will be video footage of this process up for you all to see in the coming days!!!!!! We completed all the paper work and payment with the car yard manager Ear, who was very lovely to deal with. Adrian also did a couple of runs to the local shops with our tuk tuk driver to shout the whole team some cold drinks and fresh fruit. They were very grateful. Jimmy told us they had never been treated like this by customers before. Well we thought it was the least we could do, for their impressive and efficient efforts, all whilst in Cambodia's heat!
Here is Christine with Ear and Jimmy after all the paperwork was finalised and official!
The plan now was for Jimmy, Brus & Meng to drive the truck back to Siem Reap overnight, whilst Adrian & I took a bus back. Our bus was due to leave Phnom Penh a little before all the work was finished on the truck so we snuck in a group photo of the entire team that was part of this amazing experience. Below is almost all the staff at the truck yard that worked on our vehicle, the boys who travelled to Phnom Penh with us and Jimmy :) oh and our truck is behind them!!!!!!!!!!!!
Following this photo, Adrian and I were driven through some hectic Phnom Penh peak hour traffic to the bus stop to jump on a bus back to Siem Reap. After rushing to grab some local food to take on board for dinner, we relaxed into our air conditioned recliner bus seats and reflected on what was a crazy, fun and amazingly successful day in this adventure of the #drivecambodiasfuture project!
But it doesn't end there.
On our way home, in the middle of the night, our bus broke down. In the middle of pouring rain!!!!! After approx. 2hrs of standing under shelters, standing in mud, puddles, trying to manually push the bus off the road, waiting for a tow truck, waiting for another bus to pick us up........ we finally squished our way onto a sleeper bus in order to get back to Siem Reap. This sleeper bus was full by the way, so we all had to sit in the aisle of the bus, on the floor, amongst some interesting smells....... ahhhh hahaha you have to laugh!!! All we wanted to do was get home to Siem Reap, have a shower after sweating all day and jump into bed! Which we finally got to, by 3:30am this morning (Friday).
What an adventure. #Cambodia.
P.S. Photos of the final finished truck are on their way!