Road to Thailand
Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
284Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Random Guesthouse in Soi Rambutri
I was leaving Cambodia and headed on the road of death, not really, to Bangkok. As I have mentioned previously the LP loves to over dramatize everything and I knew it would be nowhere near as bad as it made out.
The bus was supposed to turn up at 7 so when one arrived I assumed it was ours, turns out it was for Phnom Penh, not somewhere I was going. Half the people left and the rest of us sat around waiting.
Come 7:20 it still hadn't arrived so they bundled the 5 of us into a car and drove to the bus stop. Got chatting to a very enthusiastic French guy, shock horror a friendly French person!, before finally getting into a minibus at 7:45. Didn't imagine that it would be taking us all the way and my suspicions proved correct as we stopped at another bus station after a short drive.
The bus we boarded had to be the worst of all my trips so far. It had no hold so all the bags were bundled on the front seat, the air con didn't work and it was stupidly uncomfortable. But at least we were finally moving, albeit 90 minutes behind schedule.
I'm not going to lie and say the road was smooth but it wasn't hideously uncomfortable. Maybe it was for people used to the highways in Thailand, but I had been on Tibetan roads and this paled into insignificance in comparison. Sure it was a dirt track all the way and had a few pot holes, but it was still a relatively smooth journey.
Took about 5 hours to the border, with only 1 stop for lunch about 20 minutes before arriving in Poipet. Poipet is a dump! It was the dirtiest city I've encountered, it smelled of sewage and served no purpose other than to fuel the needs of Thai gamblers. There weren't as many casino's as I had expected though.
If I thought the Vietnam-Cambodian border was a joke, this was farcical! We were stamped out of Cambodia with no worries, and I caught a glimpse of a Thai passport with an unbelievable amount of Cambodian stamps neatly lined up down the page. They must really like gambling, or have a lot of money as the minimum stake is $200.
We then proceeded to join the queue to enter Thailand, and my God was it a queue! It took over 2 hours for me to reach the front of the queue and then I discovered what took so long. On the embarkation cards they always ask for an address in the country where you will be staying. Normally I just write nothing and get away with it but not here! I had no idea where I would be stating so just wrote Khao San road, Bangkok. Apparantly that still wasn't good enough and she handed me a book with hotel listings in Bangkok and told me to choose one. After choosing one at random I was finally stamped into the country. This had happened to everyone and seeing as there were only 4 desks I'm not surprised it took so long. When Lars filled in his Laos visa application he put "assassin" as his occupation and still got let in with no worries!
I still had no baht so the second I saw a cash machine I made a beeline and withdrew a couple of thousand, in thousand notes which were of little use as most purchases in Thailand will be for small values and they will never take a 1000 baht note. I mean you can eat Pat Thai, sort of noodles with veg, on the street in Bangkok for 15 baht!
After the horrific bus to the border I was dreading what monstrosity we would be travelling in on the Thai side. I needn't have worried as it was the best bus I have travelled on during my time in Asia. From worst to best in the space of a few hours! Pure luxury and the 5 hours flew by.
As we neared Bangkok I was amazed at just how big it is! It took us an hour to get from one side to the Khao San road, where all the backpackers stay. The fun then begun as I had to try and find a single room. I started on Khao San itself but there weren't any and they would have been horrific anyway, think Chungking Mansions esque. I ended up going up a street called Soi Rambutri just up the street from Khao San and found a pretty good double room for 180 baht. No singles anywhere and that was pretty cheap for a double.
Dined on some red curry before deciding to hit Khao San for a look. It was packed with street sellers and I managed to spends loads on things I really didn't need, like those sew-on country badges. Decided I had spent enough and found a bar showing yesterdays Spurs game and tested the Thai beers before heading to explore closer to my hotel. Found somewhere that showed movies all day so watched one before retiring to bed.