Trip Start Feb 28, 2012
40Trip End Nov 22, 2012
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Its 10:30pm and after spending a day in a Bangkok hotel recovering from my time in Pattaya I check out and get the Sangthaew into Pattaya and wait 30 mins for a mini van which is only going to cost 2 quid for a 2 hour journey to BKK and its on a spacious, comfy air con mini van…. Just what I need!
So on arrival I am pretty shattered after walking around from the bus drop off for a hotel and I also have my first near miss with the crazy dogs out here..! I have come across many bad'ens and some groups of them too but just stood my ground, kept walking or growled back and its always worked, but this time, feeling slightly jaded, I am confronted by 3 very wild angry dogs and when I try to scare them they take one step back and 2 stops forward and the minute I then back off is fatal, like they smell the fear and just when I think they are gonna go for me this old guy who must originally be from Liliput he’s so small, grabs my arm and walks me through… to my relief big time - but to the locals who saw this, think its very, very funny, and yet another source of enjoyment from a crazy phalang…
Before my flight tomorrow need to collect the external hard drive I had arranged to pick up from Samsung in BKK but in my naivety I decide tomorrow before the flight will be plenty of time, I mean come on, I have a map, pinpointing on the road where it is, how hard could it be? Needless to say next day, I am in the taxi over an hour and pay about a tenner for a round trip to the airport trying to find it but being totally out of luck but being in my now 'wound down, almost calm native Thai state’ I take it well! But once you see Bangkok you can understand why because I had forgotten that most Thailand is made up of just ‘one road’ so that road on the map is probably 50-100 miles…easily!
Anyway my time at the airport is mixed, I have only just run out of money and so had to cash a US Dollar t/c to Bhat incurring the exchange rate which I think I need as I have overstayed my visa by one day which incurs a tenner fee but they just let me through but as I do go through I am stopped at security for a few extra scans and on inspection of my bag, they discover, with not too pleasant a look by the way, my lock knife and yes, they confiscate it!! Gutted, I have been using that for chopping fruit and I really loved that knife but now no more…. Anyway, my flight to Phnom Penh Cambodia is only an hour and at the visa stand I have a mini breakthrough in that everyone has to collect, fill in and then queue to pay for their visa but I fill mine in and then, not being sure what to do signal several officials behind the pay desk as though to say ‘where do I go to pay this?’ and though after a few blank looks a woman official has come round, asks me for my passport and form and takes it away and shortly comes back and says I can go now, even though everyone else is stood in a big one man queue, no doubt some noticing I am going straight through and wondering what kind of special case I am?! But then the official asks me for a 100 bhat tip, so without realizing it, I have asked her, or inadvertently bribed her, to process me quicker and though I missed the tip/payment bit she has reminded me but I gladly pay not only for the speed of proc ess but I instantly think it must look like I have paid to go through and anyone would automatically think it would have been a lot more than 100 Bhat (2 quid) like I am ‘Mr Big’! so I like my start to Cambodia already!!
On the plane I sat next to a guy i thought was American (bad start!) but I later see his passport and it’s a Canadian one (better start) and tho he is quiet on the plane after I try speak a couple of times, I see him at money exchange so I ask if he’s off into the centre and has transport to which he relpies he hasn’t so I suggest we share a tuk tuk at $7 and he says yes and it’s a good move as when we arrive we both get hassled a lot for hotels but being in a two it makes it easier, plus he is a big guy and covered in jailhouse tats which I think helps too! But we find a hotel, check in, go for some food and have some BBQ charcoal cooked chicken at the market – amazing! Then a few beers at only 75 cents a beer and we talk and he turns out to be as very interesting and cool guy and so I said I am going to see the Killing Fields tomorrow and if he wants to come whi ch he does so all is good. He is pretty much doing a similar trip to me, started in Thailand last month, though he did the south, now he’s here for 1 month with no plan at all like me and then he is doing Vietnam. He’s 39 and is a full time psychology student but used to be an actor and was in the remake of rat race and honey I shrunk the kids apparently, and before that he was a kinda perfomer who swallowed knives and did things like skewers through the skin and things like that – all paints a bad picture but really, he is a very nice guy!
So I am now in my room, typing this update and getting ready to begin Cambodia! On first reactions it is similar to Thailand though the architecture in Phnom Penh is distinctly French Art Deco as the French had a big influence on this countries infrastructure in the past. It looks more dated here but is a warming place and even though there are some pushy people nearly all have ended the encounter with a smile and a goodbye… its hot though, about 40 degrees and the fan in my room seems to be having little effect…. I think it will be back to backpacking now, no more beers for a while like before and plenty of water and sun cream! The currency here is US dollars and Riel which is scarcely in use these days which is a good job as 1 pound is about 4100 riel and so not the easiest to work with but a pound is about 1.5 dollars so that’s good but unfortunately they don’t speak Thai here, its there own language so its back to square one on the communication front…
So tomorrow is a visit to The Killing Fields and, where as it will no doubt be an emotional site, i really can’t wait as the film had a big impact on me. There are some other local sites to see close by and it may incorporate a boat ride and so with a visit to the post office and a laundry run that will be my first day here and I think then it will be time to move on…. I have picked out a rough route of heading north east and around the hills and Mekong River, the West towards Siem Reap which is the 2nd biggest place here and this is where Angkor Wat is, the biggest temple in the world and has huge trees and thier roots growing, spread out over the temple, looks amazing… then down towards the southern coast and beaches and then across to Vietnam for what should be an amazing bike trip up through the whole country…. I have drawn a very rough map and uploaded it as the first picture to help show the route – its very rough as using this basic laptop and paint program! It wont be going in my work portfolio, that’s for sure!
I was looking at a map today of the whole of Asia and it dawned on me that China is right above Vietnam and it could be possible for me to include it in my trip or even go across the south of China, through Tibet, Nepal, India and back across by internal flight to Thailand…. It’s a big maybe but the options are there…. I will update you all on Cambodia when I can and also give a final verdict on Thailand and the things I may have missed out…