Trip Start Mar 08, 2011
84Trip End Jun 11, 2011
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Where I stayed
ko chang bailon beach resort
All gassed up the driver remembers that we want to go to Poipet (the border town) instead of Phnom Penh (the dump we have already been to), so head all the way back to where we started this journey (I finally saw a sign for the border). We had to stop once more at the driver's 'office' for him to shout at his friends and show us off to his buddies. I just know he was saying something like, 'look at all these Western suckers I am going to take to the border if I feel like it today.' After all his friends looked in the car we were off for an hour and a half of uninterrupted driving. Driving where there are no rules, open "highway", this taxi barreling down at least 100KPH passing everything in sight in oncoming traffic and no working seatbelts. I was pretty sure we wouldn't make it to the border. After a period of time the driver pulls over on the highway in the middle of nowhere, gets out of the car and walks away. I assumed he was making a pit stop so I was watching him walk into the brush on the side of the road. He looked back and started to undo his pants so I stopped watching. I started thinking about how travel insurance could help us out here. Luckily, he came back shortly after and we were off again.
About half an hour after his pit stop, the driver came to a screeching halt just outside a fairly good sized town. We still had another hour or so to the border so we didn't know what this stop was for. He threw the car in reverse and stopped in front of a man carrying a white box covered in duct tape. He put the box in the trunk and took this guy's cell phone number and got back in the car. During all of these stops and transactions, mind you, we get no information or communication or answers to our questions. We're not happy with the mystery box in the trunk with our bags but a short while later we finally arrived in Poipet. We unload at the departure window and when taking our bags out Dave settled the pre-arranged fee. Handing him exact change he looks down and then asks, "No tip?" Dave had a few tips for him, but not in monetary form. We all had a good laugh at that.
this travelfish article. For those that do not want to read the article, from the border we could take a tuk tuk to the bus station. We would then take a local bus (probably no aircon) to another town 3 hours away. The transfer to another local bus to Trat (another 2 hours). Then take a taxi for an hour to the pier, where we would take a ferry to Koh Chang island, and finally one more taxi to our hotel (I am winded from typing all of that). Dave had been prepping me for this travel for a few days now, so I was mentally prepared. All of the articles he found about the trip were old, so deep down he was hoping there was a better way to get there. Right when we cross the border we see a sign for a direct bus to Koh Chang. Looks like we are in luck, but they tell us the bus is not running because of the holiday. So in a last ditch effort we find a private taxi to take us directly to the pier. Dave decides it is best to go with this option (for $70), and we we get enjoy the ride in a brand new aircon car.
We arrived at the ferry terminal just as one was getting ready to take off so we quickly said goodbye to Mr. Chai, got our tickets and ran on-board just as they were closing the doors. We enjoyed the 20 minute ride across the bay to Ko Chang peninsula. The island is full of mountains and hills and the most beautiful beaches around it. Once we arrived we knew that the taxis here are more like a group car that you hail when you need one and they just keep circling the island. They're called Songtheaws but we weren't sure what that meant. Right across the street from the ferry stop was a whole row of these things, all battered pickup trucks covered in the back part over the bed so that you can sit on a bench.
As soon as we started through part of the touristy beach area the streets were lined with locals and foreigners (mostly foreigners now come to think of it) spraying hoses of water and throwing buckets of water at all the passing vehicles. The first group really got all of us sitting in the back and although I was not pleased, I didn't think there was much I could do. Luckily, someone else in the front of the cab was getting out right then and since Dave was up front the driver told me I could join him inside. I was crammed up behind the passenger seat but it was inside and I didn't get drenched. I couldn't believe the way the foreigners got so into dousing people with water. One lady looked like she was about to kill us with a big knife or something the way she came at the songtheaw with her water bucket. And she was not a local. The locals were very friendly about it, laughing and smiling and gently giving us a light spray. I guess that's how we get these reputations since I don't really think the purpose of the holiday is to douse Americans with water but what do I know. The driver was really enjoying letting everyone else in the back get drenched and kept stopping for people to come throw water on them and to accept some flowers in a sign of prayer. Finally, an hour and 20 minutes later and the last ones in the songtheaw, we arrived at our resort.