Cambordia Crossing

The excitement grew on my last night in Bangkok. It was finally time to really start my adventure and move on to another foreign world. Cambodia sat in my mind as a dream for so long and it was about to come true. The only thing on my Bangkok bucket list, as itemized through Pinterest was getting a cocktail at Skybar, Bangkok’s premier rooftop bar.

All gussied up, I went for a drink and had one of my first travel moments of “wow, I’m really doing it.” For a spectacular view for the price of overpriced cocktails seemed well worth it, and it was. Then back to the hostel to pack after one more pit stop for $2 street food, fried rice and chicken, always a tummy pleaser.

I couldn’t sleep as I was just too excited, and a little bit nervous. This was my first bus trip and overland boarder crossing. Having done all my research I knew relatively what I was in for. My alarm went off at 7:40 but I snoozed until almost 8 when I realized I was cutting it short and needed a pre-bus shower to wash off the sticky feeling that comes with Bangkok’s constant humidity.

Angela woke up with me and we went for one last cigarette, I’m not much of a talker when I’m nervous, so we sat in the early hour while the city came to life and enjoyed the time. I started to notice I was running a little bit late and began to worry I’d miss the bus and be in BKK for yet another unscheduled night, so I hopped in to the first cab that passed. I told him where I was going “Mo Chit bus station” he nodded in agreement and I got in. Revelling in the fact it wasn’t an issue to explain where I was going I relaxed for a brief moment. Then he turned around and said “400 Bhat.” I said No! It’s 150 to which he tried to bargain “300…?” Then I got mad. Really, really mad. I realized he hadn’t turned the meter on and we were already in route which meant we had to bargain it down before we got there or he could probably charge whatever he wanted.

I screamed at him to turn the meter on, but the little shit refused and I was too worried about being late to ask to stop. Finally we agreed on 150B, but what I realized when we got to the bus terminal is to him that didn’t include the 50B toll that is required at the highway. So when I gave him the 100 at the bus station, he started yelling “NO 150, 150, 150!” So I slammed 50 more Bhat down and slammed the door and walked off. Bare in mind 50 Bhat is $2 or less, so it’s not a budget breaker, solely a principle-of-the-matter situation.

He was a prick and made me dislike my experience in Thailand even more as it just seemed so gross and eager to rip off visitors. So I stomped off to my bus at gate #106 where the bus driver stood, smoking a cigarette and bossing the passengers around to throw their bags in and get on the bus. So I threw my bag on and asked how much time – he said 15 minutes which afforded me a bathroom break and a stop at Dunkin Donuts for a little breakfast to go.

Uh... Am I on the wrong bus? I'm going to Siem Rrrreap!
Uh… Am I on the wrong bus? I’m going to Siem Rrrreap!

Bus ride was relatively painless, with the exception of the granola eating Canadian couple in front of me who needed to recline their seats as an empty attempt to grasp the fallacy of comfort. The woman was literally on my knees, so after a few untactful manoeuvres she lifted her seat back up. Then they continued to complain about everything for the duration of the trip.

Before we pulled up to the Thai boarder, which had been allotted an hour for boarder crossing, a man jumped on our bus and started his spiel which was a makeshift scam to get a few extra bucks off the tourists who didn’t have visas. Of course the Candians in front of me, went for it, instead of waiting to pay at the boarder for $10 USD cheaper … and then continued to complain. Fair enough, had I not been prepared and got swindled, I too would have been upset.

That took 20 minutes or so while they “processed” the visas which didn’t even seem legit as the guy had rushed the Chinese man next to me, who was filling it out for himself, his wife and child by ripping the paperwork out of his hand before he filled it in entirely. All the while thinking “I’m so glad I got my visa online in advance.”

So the Thai boarder was easy, line up and they stamp your passport. “Oh, wow, easy” I thought… and then I started walking towards the Cambodia boarder. In between the two, in purgatory, there is ample distractions of shops, bars, casinos and little kids desperately begging for money including a 4 or 5 year old girl who had lost her foot (guessing by the scaring up her leg it ws a land mine or fire, so something horrible and jarring) and that brought it back to real life, real quick.

On we walked, ignoring the blending of 1st and 3rd world realities to the Cambodian side. It was long and arduous as we’re just stood there, in a tin hallway with hundreds of others and the line moves so slow. Eventually – like, 2 hours later eventually I was stamped and officially in after presenting my e-visa and giving electronic finger prints to Cambodia.

Almost about to piss myself I asked around for the nearest toilet, knowing I was the first of my bus group to get through I had time. So the casino let me use their toilet, which was really nice as it was a clean, western toilet WITH toilet paper!!! Which, really is a luxury, but luckily I travel with wet wipes, for any and all unforeseen circumstances.

20-30 minutes later the rest of the bus had made their way through the boarder crossing, and in a way, we all felt a little stronger and prouder as people as it really was just standing and waiting, but felt like a trek worthy of a medal – or at least a cold beverage. So we all had cokes/beers/water before settling back into the bus.

Camodia Arrivals Hall
Camodia Arrivals Hall

At this point, I was thinking “Oh boy, what have I done?” Asia is too much for me and it’s not what I wanted. Then. We drove into Cambodia.

Immediately taken by the vastly different scenery of luscious greens, fields, people still on bikes, motos and tuk tuks but it already just seemed calmer than Bangkok. The sun was setting as we modestly charged our way along the paved, but bumpy roads. The country had won me over already.

Doesn't do it justice.
Doesn’t do it justice.

3 hours later than planned we pulled up to Siem Reap, with an adorable city center where you’re greeted by christmas lights lining the streets and bridges, a lively, manageable buzz of locals and visitors alike soaking in the cooling evening breeze. Off the bus I ran, grabbed my pack and set out to find one of the dozens of tuk-tuk drivers who could find my guest house with just the bookmarked page I had saved on my phone of my booking.

A pushy older driver who spoke no English and didn’t know where my guest house was, was upset when I picked the younger English speaking driver behind him because he chimed in saying “Yeah I know where it is, I’ll take you, $3.”

Done and done. I arrived close to 8 pm to my home for the next few nights. A private room, with a private bathroom for a steal of a deal of $9 a night. When the young assistant carried my bag up the 3 flights of stairs and delivered it to my room, I couldn’t believe it. A nice, big room and bathroom all to myself – and I didn’t have to lug my backpack upstairs. Heaven.

Seriously... $9.
Seriously… $9.

One thought on “Cambordia Crossing

  1. Whew! So much excitement for just the basics. I’m so glad the prices are so low. I remember your1 telling me about the help up 3 flights after such a grueling day, but when I read it here, I rejoiced AGAIN! What a gorgeous ending to one and beginning of another! Rock on, my Lil’ Adventurer! Love

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