Saturday, 2 January 2016
Thailand to Cambodia - Crossing the Border by Foot
Sadly after only two days diving I had to leave Koh Tao. My New Zealand bank card had arrived at my friends and luckily she was to be in Bangkok that weekend so I was anxious to collect it as soon as I could. I had time for a walk on the beach and some ice-cream and thought how typical that this day should be the one with the best weather. I was glad when I did leave though as our ferry departure coincided with some massive clouds and a lots of rain finding the island.
My funds from my last withdrawal had lasted well but were uncomfortably low which lead to me putting off booking my train until the last minute. I was fortunate to get a place on my preferred train but not fortunate enough to get a bunk. Despite the basic seat I was assigned I did manage to get some sleep. I am sure the fact that the train terminated at Bangkok helped me to relax since i would be unable to miss my stop this time.
In Bangkok I had time to meet my friend to get my card and have lunch before I was back on a train. Whilst in Koh Tao I heard that it was possible to dive in Cambodia and so that was to be my next destination. As with Malaysia there was much more of Thailand that I would have like to have seen but my time was going quickly and there were so many countries still to see.
The train from Bangkok went as far as the Thai border at Aranyaprathet where the train line ended. From there I got a tuk tuk with two Canadian guys to the border. I had read about the scams and I felt sure our driver had not taken us where we were meant to go but the guys got out of the tuk tuk whilst I was arguing about the fare with our driver. I got my way with the fare but the guys had gotten out and we were left at a convincingly official looking building. Despite my uneasiness I am sorry to admit I went along with the other two. One had been before and said it wasn’t what he remembered but as travelling in SE Asia was new to me I allowed myself to be swayed. In the end we were fortunate. All that happened was that we over paid for out taxi and they got a copy of my passport. I’d be worried but my passport has been photocopied by so many different hostels that I didn’t care except I had been proven right that our tuk tuk driver had mislead us.
Apart from our slight misdirection we managed to cross the border without incident. We filled out all the forms (again!) paid the expected cpsts and walked across. I had completed my first crossing on foot! At the other side a taxi was waiting and the three of us were taken straight to Siem Reap. I had booked my hostel in advance knowing I would be arriving late but they had not so our final leg was once again completed via tuk tuk the round-about way. Fortunately I keep my valuables in my hand luggage and always insist on keeping that with me as during one particularly sharp turn my backpack took a side trip to the road. Our driver was most apologetic and there was no harm but it re-enforced my inclination to always keep my hand luggage with me not matter what.
Our relatively expensive taxi ride meant I made it to Siem Reap earlier than planned to finds life in the city and my hostel was still in full swing. I was quickly checked in and soon in my lovely comfy bed. I was in a new country and tomorrow I was going to explore but first, sleep!