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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Welcome to Cambodia!

Woke up yesterday morning to the sound of church bells, this is the sound of the alarm on my phone and today at 6;30 am I felt like throwing my phone out of the window and pretending the alarm hadn’t gone off yet. The reason for this being that id only had 4 hours sleep. Once again I set the alarm for the middle of the night to watch the Liverpool fc match, only for them to be gubbed by a relegation fodder team. After a 12 hour coach ride from Phuket the previous day its fair to say my body was battered, as well as my football pride.
We left Bangkok at 7;30 and headed for Poipet on the border of Thailand and Cambodia. As we waited in a line and filled out some forms a truck pulled up alongside us, it was ram packed with big fat pigs. Personally I couldn’t stop thinking about bacon butties with a blob of bobby brown, but miss Alex was cooing. Eventually she comforted herself with the thought that they wouldn’t have even existed if they weren’t one day, going to end up on a dish.
One thing that really annoys me is a queue jumper and generally they seem to be German. Today we had a fat German jump the queue who had a Thai “escort” with him. Two young lads who looked German and a Canadian, his friend tried too push through but by this point I’d had enough and stepped in his path to stop him. Why cant people just wait their turn like I do!!
Once all the papers had been signed and I’d stood my turn in the queue our party of about 30 people made our way through the border and jumped on a bus that was to take us to the taxi point. The trip cost us 750 baht (£15 ish) this included a minibus from Bangkok to the border, Then a taxi from the border to Siam Reap in Cambodia then one nights stay at a guest house. Or for a bus over the border and a bus to Siam Reap with no guest house it would have cost us 350 baht (£7) Obviously we took the 750 baht deal because it sounded too good to be true, plus the taxi was meant to be quicker than the bus by an hour. So at this point in the story miss Alex and me are just through the border and waiting for our “taxi” to Siam Reap. The tour guide pulls me and miss Alex aside and tells us to follow him to the taxi, on the way to the taxi the tour guide asks two old blokes to follow him  as well. Just before we get in the taxi the tour guide is summoned by his mate. Next thing we know were told to follow him back to the main party of 30 or so people.  Our taxi had been cancelled. The tour guide then gathered the whole party around him and says the doomed words “I have some bad news” He then told us that because its Chinese new year today there was no Taxis around to take us all to Siam Reap. Its fair to say I went mad at the bloke, I instantly told him I wanted a refund, miss Alex also chipping in and giving the tour guide a good tongue lashing, before we knew it was chaos. There was a German saying “zis ist not gut enough” then the typically passionate Italian bloke gesturing with his finger and thumb near his mouth saying “eh mama mia” Looking back as I write this it was a comical scene. The tour guide promising every one a refund, no where near what we should have got back, plus we didn’t actually get a refund in the end, think every one was just happy to arrive here tonight. Our mode of transport was a bus, and this bus was packed to the rafters. It really was choka!!
I feel obliged to tell the whole world now not to bother getting the “too good to be true taxi” because it is actually too good to be true. Also at this point we started to doubt whether there would actually be a guest house at the other end waiting for us. But we just wanted to get to Siam Reap by this point.
Also in the bus during the 3 hour drive to Siam Reap I noticed that the bus was a right hand drive, and the Cambodians drive on the right hand side. Maybe this was the future!! Cambodia was setting a new trend against the world.  Also during the ride I was thinking about all these valuable lessons that we’d learnt through our travels like, never booking a “too good to be true taxi” just by the cheaper bus ride, never book a weeks boxing before we’d checked out were the gym was and what state it was in, never play a scratchcard and believe we’d won a big prize. All these lessons were learnt too late. Although one thing I’m not learning is setting my alarm clock through the night to watch Liverpool play a match.
A car passed us on the way to Siam Reap and I promise it had about 20 Cambodians in it. It was impressive to see how they’d done it. Eventually we arrived in Siam Reap and also at the guest house, we did have a room reserved for us and it was at no extra cost. As we hadn’t eaten in 12 hours we made our way to “pub street” (very Cambodian name) and had an amazing BBQ. Miss Alex mentioned it in her last blog. We noticed as we sat eating, Cambodian kids walking through the street eateries. They were picking the scraps of food from   empty tables. This broke our hearts. We then talked about maybe doing a couple of days volunteering work. A group arrange to go and give food to homeless children on the “dumps” (rubbish tips) Its only when you see the kids like we did last night that it really hits home how lucky we are.
I would also like to mention in the blog, On a packed Patong Beach in Phuket, I decided to chase after miss Alex into the sea. So I got up from my towel and sprinted down to the waters edge, took a couple of gallops through the first few waves then dived head first into the water. This would have looked cool if my back had actually gone underneath the water. It was shallow water and my prize was a cut on my forehead. I felt so daft, I didn’t even turn around to face the beach until the bleeding had stopped. I picked myself up and just carried on walking out to deeper water, where miss Alex caught up with me in fits of laughter.

Speak soon xxx  

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