A Travellerspoint blog

Chapter eighty seven - Bangkok to Sydney

G'dnight Thailand, G'Day Australia

sunny 25 °C

Day 311: Bangkok, Thailand to Sydney, Australia 06/08/2012

A lazy morning and early afternoon is spent lounging, and after a quick shower and a final pack of the bags, as well as one last great street meal, we are off to the airport. We really cannot believe that things have got to this point and we have been on the road for well over ten months now! It is all slipping away...sob.

Disaster strikes en route to the airport. A little jig of mine backfires as the left strap of my backpack breaks. Disappointing to say the least. After neglecting to get in touch with Emirates to confirm our flights (cannot get through to them at the weekend), we face the moment of truth...are we even on this flight? Yes, no sweat. Time for some last minute refreshments in the airport.

As we board our flight an old Pakistani woman tries to board without her boarding pass. Hmmm, we will have to see how that one pans out for her...In our seats, a decent dinner and a film and a few zzz's go up. The next chapter of our trip awaits.

Posted by tevs 23:07 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney flying australia thailand bangkok airports Comments (0)

Chapter eighty six - Bangkok. Again.

Bye Bye Asia...for now

overcast 28 °C

Day 308: Bangkok, Thailand 03/08/2012

A fairly early start for the bus ride to Bangkok then, with the bus setting off for that most horrendous of borders at Poipet. A nutritous breakfast is eaten on board in the shape of a baguette smeared with a Laughing Cow cheese triangle. We reach the border in good time, being told when we alight 'no sticker, no bus' by the driver, who we assume will meet us on the other side.

Now the fun begins, with the sheer inadequacy of this horrid little part of the world showing itself in all its glory. The scrum on the Cambodian side of the border takes only about 15-20 minutes for us to get through, which is not too bad. Then comes the Thai side...the 100% uncomfortable and wholly inefficient process of getting to the Thai immigration counter takes over two and a half hours, with everybody in the queue being rained on with all their stuff and us enduring the frightening experience of being shouted at by a little old Thai lady.

Once through the rigmarole of dragging ourselves and our stuff through the immigration counter, we start the ridiculous process of being transferred onto a Bangkok bound minibus. Sitting with an Irish couple we met tubing in Laos, we are subjected to the frankly inexcusable ways of the travel mafia, who make us wait around to buy some reasonably priced (but crap) food and drink off them whilst they try to explain why a driver sits in an empty minibus waiting for passengers. Some seriously pissed off people here.

Finally arrive in Bangkok nine hours after starting the 'four hour' journey. Check into the Train Inn for the last time and in need of a beer, discover it is a Buddhist holiday and alcohol shall not be served at 7-eleven.

Day 309: Bangkok, Thailand 04/08/2012

Wake up after a decent night's kip, the horror of Poipet firmly behind us. To anyone reading this, please learn from our mistakes and never travel overland from Thailand to Cambodia - the two times we have done were hellish - the cost of an airfare is more than worth it, despite the expansion of one's carbon footprint.

Off out for the day and our noodle soup breakfast at Hua Lamphong is cut short by the arrival of a couple of rats in the joint. No Saturday in Bangkok would be complete without a visit to Chatuchak Market, the sheer size of the place never ceasing to amaze us. We even find parts we hadn't seen in any of our previous visits, with antiques, second hand watches, military memorobilia and traditional Chinese medicine stalls rearing their heads. The products available here are seemingly never ending, and after a few hours here and a few purchases later, we head for a much needed hair cut and a good bite to eat. We grab a tuk-tuk back to the Train Inn and watch a couple of episodes of Only Fools and Horses on my new box set and cringe at how un-PC it is. Still brilliant though.

Day 310: Bangkok, Thailand 05/08/2012

A lazy morning is spent watching some more Del Boy and Rodney capers at the hotel and after unsuccessfully trying to get the laundry done (it is Sunday), we decide to go for a quiet stroll around Bangkok. We end up seeing lots of parts of the city we have never seen before - local markets, food markets and a vast array of weird and wonderful buildings and areas. Whilst trying some smart trousers on for the Aussie wedding I am shouted at quite viciously by the strange woman market stall owner and told in no uncertain terms to go. Weirdo.

We soon find ourselves back near the station and after marvelling at the hyperactivity of a hedgehog (Sonic?) in a cage at yet another interesting market we embark on that other favourite pastime we have enjoyed in this part of the world, the cinema. The Dark Knight Rises is one of the best films I have ever seen at the cinema and Bane may be my favourite bad guy since Hannibal Lecter. Off to Australia tomorrow. Cannot believe it has come round so quickly! So long Bangkok, we will miss you.

Posted by tevs 22:32 Archived in Thailand Tagged markets market thailand bangkok cinema Comments (0)

Chapter eighty five - Siem Reap

Wat? Angkor Wat that's what

overcast 29 °C

Day 305: Siem Reap, Cambodia 31/07/2012

A 7.30 tuk tuk pick up from the room (with a real odd couple in tow) to get to the bus station and start our journey to Siem Reap via Phnom Penh. A rumbling hunger and a sub-zero air conditioning system makes the stop for a hot noodle soup all the more satisfying but we soon find ourselves arriving at the bus station in Phnom Penh and waiting for what seemed an eternity for the next bus to come. There is lots going on here though to keep us entertained - annoying Europeans, locals travelling across Cambodia with their worldly possessions, travellers with huge camera lenses pointing at people's faces.

Eventually on the bus to Siem Reap and there is a real mix of locals and travellers using the service, which is always nice to see. Again the a/c is set to arctic but we do get to watch some excellent Khmer programming on the onboard tv. Get to Siem Reap in good time, organise a tuk tuk to Angkor Wat in a couple of days and check in to the hotel before grabbing a bite to eat and getting an early night...

Day 306: Siem Reap, Cambodia 01/08/2012

After a good night's sleep I head to the rooftop gym and smash the treadmill for a massive sweat on before we step out for a bite to eat and a bit of time wandering around this charming riverside town. We visit all the haunts we loved so much last time we were here and buy a few bits and pieces from the markets. Back at the room, we have a slight problem with the plumbing and we ask to be moved. Unfortunately, they are full at the moment but say they will move our stuff when we are at Angkor Wat tomorrow. A quick visit to the internet cafe and a bit of time in the fish foot spa (always good for a laugh) before an early night for an early morning...

Day 307: Siem Reap, Cambodia 02/08/2012

Up at ten to five then for our trip to Angkor Wat, with the tuk tuk ready and waiting for us outside the hotel. We soon hit the road and are excited about this morning's excursion, reaching the gate to the complex nice and easily and having two beautiful, early morning, post tuk-tuk ride photos taken for our day passes.

After being accosted by a food and drink vendor called Angelina Jolie (not sure if that is her real name) we soon bear witness to the magnificent spectacle of the sun rising over the mysterious Angkor Wat and the ancient complex is revealed in all its glory. It is incredible to think how a structure like this was built so long ago, without cranes and machinery, not just built to a decent standard but finished with such unbelievable quality and finesse.

Exploring the temple complex reveals some stunning monuments and statues and a huge pack of very wild looking monkeys. From Angkor Wat itself and onto the Bayon we move, where there is plenty going on. Elephants compete with the tuk tuks for roadspace carrying hordes of gawping tourists to the strange, mystical and all knowing huge heads carved into the building blocks of this strange but captivating temple. There are some excellent views to be had from the top of some of the other smaller temples (very steep steps up) and the whole thing is a really special sight to behold - definitely worthy of its position near the very top of almost every tourist's itinerary. After negotiating the maze to get out and grabbing a quick drink, we head back to the hotel for a quick nap and (eventually) swap rooms as promised.

After such a busy day we treat ourselves in the evening, first stopping for a massage from a blind man (so relaxing!) before a great dinner at one of the best eating holes we have found on the entire trip. A couple of beers and we are ready to leave Cambodia - a charming and unforgettably welcoming and hospitable country - in the morning for our last return to our most favourite of cities, Bangkok.

Posted by tevs 21:49 Archived in Cambodia Tagged cambodia siem_reap angkor_wat Comments (0)

Chapter eighty four - Sihanoukville's second chance

A place in the rain

sunny 30 °C

Day 301: Sihanoukville, Cambodia 27/07/2012

So depart from the B&Q furniture bus depot and make our way to Sihanoukville, for a final chance to snatch some quality beach time. The not uncomfortable minibus takes far more than the promised four hours (and nearly run a dog over in the process) and I run into somebody else reading another of Michael Palin's fine travel books. Have just finished Around The World In 80 Days and give it to my new buddy as I finished it last night. Decline a book back in return on account of the eight we are already carrying around.

A quick stop at Victory Hill for the fat, white, middle aged man sat next to me and it is the seediest, sleaziest, scummiest place I have ever seen, built solely around the world's oldest profession. We find a hotel room and head to the beach for the afternoon sun. The town is a lot quieter and therefore nicer than it was the last time we came due mainly to it now being the low season. The clouds gather but the rain holds off for today and we enjoy a decent tea in the town. Consider a trip back to the desert island but decide against as the weather is not as reliable in low season. A film in bed is followed by a good sleep.

Day 302: Sihanoukville, Cambodia 28/07/2012

A beautiful day outside - the sun is shining and the beach beckons. We saunter down to the beach and after grabbing a sun lounger, enjoy a whole twenty minutes of uninterrupted sunshine before the biggest, blackest, most threatening clouds you ever did see appear on the horizon and the staff of all the beachside businesses run out to collect in anything that could be damaged by the rain.

And rain it did, as we spend a very uneventful afternoon in the room listening to the almighty storm gather pace outside. With the sun back up in the early evening, we head back to the beach, where we run into one of the lads we met in Koh Samui and briefly catch up with him. Happy Hour then opens its welcoming arms and we enjoy a few 50 cent beers with an Aussie-Kiwi couple and their young son, who has grown up in Cambodia. Needless to say, this ends later than Happy Hour intended and I forget where we live.

Day 303: Sihanoukville, Cambodia 29/07/2012

Wake up early to confront the hangover and duly lose this battle. Back to bed. A very uninspiring day mirrored by the miserable weather outside. Dinner is about the only highlight. Shocking.

Day 304: Sihanoukville, Cambodia 30/07/2012

Another rainy day unfortunately, and the after a spot of luncheon at the Big Easy bar we catch a bit of Olympic action all the way from good old Blighty. Lots of US Navy personnel about for some reason.

Back to the room for some movie entertainment - so much for the last bit of beach before going to Australia. Book a bus to Siem Reap for tomorrow and head out for dinner - two courses for $5. Baked scallops in white wine are very good. The rest is distinctly average. A frustrating few days here.

Posted by tevs 04:13 Archived in Cambodia Tagged beaches cambodia sihanoukville Comments (0)

Chapter eighty three - Kep

sunny 31 °C

Day 299: Kep, Cambodia 25/07/2012

Awake early this morning, each of us a fair bit healthier than we were yesterday. When I ask G what time it is she replies with an authoritative and decisive 'ten past eight'. A look at the watch reveals it is in fact ten past nine. She is living in the past. To the embassy then Batman, and the trip starts well as we step out of the tuk-tuk and I promptly go arse over tit care of a shin high chain fence at the side of the road. 'Oh my God' squeals the tuk-tuk driver. Quite.

Get all the required paperwork in and ask to pay for express/same day processing. The jobsworth from yesterday does not understand why we would possibly want this and tells us that it is not possible. Au contraire mon ami, as he looks up to see me and remembers the laser eye treatment he was subjected to yesterday and allows us (begrudgingly) to pay for the expedited issuance. Told to pick them up in a couple of hours so we grab a spot of breakfast from a restaurant run by an OG, who walks round commanding respect and holding two huge bricks of money without so much as the thought of a worry. Not a man to cross we feel.

We get our passports back with two Chinese visas firmly pasted into them and a weight is lifted off - the journey can be completed and the final leg undertaken. Check out of our hotel for the last time - I am sure they will be really sad to see the back of us for good - and we make our way to the bus station, where we buy two tickets to Kep and we leave Phnom Penh, passing through some parts of town we definitely haven't been near before. See a new favourite shop. It is magnificently named the 'Selling Glasses Watches Shop'.

We reach Kep, find a room and make mortal enemies with an obnoxious and truly quite horrible French nine year old. Good tea.

Day 300: Kep, Cambodia 26/07/2012

Get up and watch a bit of tv, flicking between Russia Today, Somali Kingdom TV and numerous Christian channels (kids love oatmeal snacks apparently). Go for a walk around the really quiet and quaint little town that is Kep and continue on our walk round the cliff that we abandoned last night due to the dark. Just as well we did really, as the pathway is teeming with monkeys and given our previous with these cuddly, furry, evil balls of fun we would no doubt have had a scrap on our hands.

A spot of lunch is followed by a spot of beaching it. A scorcher today and after two minutes sitting on the sand we find ourselves on two rather ancient and delapidated sun loungers. Charged to use them by a woman that Gemma thinks is just someone using the beach and seeing an opportunity. Lots of locals around the beach today, all of them staying in the shade by the road and most of them extended family units enjoying a good barbecue, which is always nice to see.

Book a minibus back to Sihanoukville tomorrow and are told by the travel agent to meet him back here at his office in the morning. His office is a patio table in a car park. Love the way that Asia conducts its business.

Posted by tevs 03:36 Archived in Cambodia Tagged beaches cambodia kep Comments (0)

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