The Storks of Böbs

The Storks of Böbs
A Very Fine Pair

Around the World (Again) Bangkok to the Border and beyond.

To the Thailand-Cambodian Border and beyond.
I was up with the spuggies, long before the alarm went on my mobile phone. Up showered and all ready to rumble. I the Sky Train just after six, I thought no one would be out and about this early, but I was quite wrong, the two building sites outside of the complex were in full swing (it could have been in Germany). The street food vendors already doing a brisk trade feeding the people on their way to work and the building site workers. I jumped onto the first train (they all go to Mo Chit) well   I didn’t really as I had a large rucksack where it should be on my Rucken and a small on containing my life strapped to my front. So you could say this old salt was loaded Fore and Aft. I have managed to keep my cargo down to a bare minimum have never had  more than 13Kg strapped to my back and my small one including Net Book charging cables, my tablets, blood testing kit, guide book and e-reader is about 7kg.Even the two together are well below my 24kg allowance. So that having nothing to do other than I didn’t jump.
At this time of the morning I was even able to get a seat (not normal during the day), I was at Mo Chit well before 07:00 and got a taxi straight away, he took me a short cut (that Scouse and Cockney have a lot to answer for). I arrived at the bus station still not 07:00, I realised that I could have booked on the 07:00 or even the 08:00 ones. I went to the window, it was the same young lady that had sold me the ticket, smiles all round, ”excuse me I am booked on the 09:00 bus, but am here early ,would it be possible to get an earlier bus” ? smile, smile always keep smiling. Reply Sorry Sir, all the seats are fully booked, I found this hard to believe, but had to admit I would have to sit and wait for 2hrs. It wasn’t too bad  as I could read up a bit about temples of Angkor Wat and Siem Reap. But I did look into the two busses and neither were particularly full, lying Toosy I thought. I now know I was doing her a dis-service, even my bus was only half full, but we are only the start of the journey, they pick up as they go along, these busses are used by all of the house maids and Nannies that require to  get a new Visa or extend the tourist one that they are illegally working on. I seemed to be the only back packer on the move this morning so may be the border Visa issuing office wouldn’t be too busy. 
The bus left Bangkok right on time after loading a load of baggage belonging to other passengers (I now know those Cambodians with money travel this route and buy designer articles from the weekend market and then take it into Cambodia).

The route on leaving Bangkok soon turns into a suburban sprawl, at times piles of timber, this I was informed was turned into charcoal and what fuelled the street food vendors BBQs, Market Gardens and then it was out into green countryside.

We travelled for a long time alongside a canal, this was obviously used for paddy fields irrigation but also cantilever fish traps at regular intervals along it.
We passed through lots of small villages with their scratching chickens and ducks swimming great gaggles on the canal and on ponds, obviously a prime source of protein.
We passed through a very well built holiday complex, for whom I don’t have a clue.
At various stops we would take on new passengers, some laden, some with children at last we reached the outskirts of Aranyaprathet, this seemed to go on for a very long time and then the sign said Border. We turned into a small bus station and here the scams begin, you will be accosted by scammers trying to say they are able to get you a visa, do not believe them, walk straight past them turn right along the road you are almost there! First the Thailand side, no problems, you get stamped out, make sure you have your departure form filled out (I didn’t) or you will have to do it there, not endearing you to the queue of backpackers, nannies and housemaids behind you.

Then as quick as possible, down the steps and along a cordoned (with barriers) pathway, across the road and into Cambodia (well not quite) to the Visa on arrival office, (it is well sign posted), If you’re lucky and all your paper work is in order you pay your $20 (if they ask you for an extra 100bhat don’t quibble, you want to get through tonight). Then you are out and off to border post (those that had already got Visa’s in Bangkok have bypassed this stage). I looked ahead and saw the border post, with an orderly queue, I walked towards this, on reaching the end of the building realised that it actually turned the corner and was another 30mtrs long so in total about 50 mtrs (what I also didn’t realise was that inside of the border hut was also another 20mtr queue).
I have in the past spent many long minutes up to an hour at the old DDR border posts (they always picked on me) but that was a piece of cake compared with  Cambodia ( I now know where all of the Grenzpolizei have gone). But after 2 hours, we  actually had a good laugh made new friends and swopped stories, I got attached to a Japanese teacher who lived in Siem Reap and her Hong Kong boyfriend, a smashing couple. I inquired about the massive suitcase that she was pushing; it was her that told me about the transiting to the market to get clothes. She had travelled with an empty suitcase on Friday been to the market and was returning today.
But at last the queue split into 4 and I was at a window, all that was done was photo taken (don’t smile) and some had electronic finger prints taken (not I as my passport is chipped).
Then it is outside and try to catch a shuttle bus to the bus station (don’t fall for the scam about getting you there quicker in my private car), the government supplied shuttle is free and the busses all set off together.
Our group (we had now bonded) stuck together and got on the same minibus shuttle, it drops you off at the bus station, and you pay your $10 then board the coach to Siem Reap. When the coach is full off you go do not worry, there are plenty of coaches and they all cost the same. If you are feeling flush you can get a mini bus, or even flusher share a taxi millionaires take their own, but I doubt they would be backpacking. Unfortunately it was dusk (at 17:00 it starts getting dark) so not a lot to see outside. But that didn’t really matter as there was a great banter on the coach.

These coaches are full of backpackers and they are only going to Siem Reap so they don’t stop (what did I say!) it does stop about 1 hour from its destination, the driver pulls of the road and you have a break at a restaurant (he and the other two coaches said it was regulations, they must take a break after 4 hours, but no doubt, they get a backhander from the restaurant owner. But we did have a meal and used the loo. The road from here to Siem Reap is one of the worst in Cambodia, the bus travels at snail’s pace trying to miss the bigger pot holes, if I wasn’t a good seaman I do believe I would have been seasick.

But at last you arrive at Siem Reap bus station, it is quite a way out of town and you either get a Tuk-Tuk or a motorbike. You can get lucky and pick up a good English speaking one, but they will all try to steer you in the direction of a guesthouse where they are going to get commission, nothing wrong with that they are making a living, I lucky, very lucky, mine took me to a very nice one, single room with bathroom $10, do not expect hot water for this price.
Clean room, though the towels were a bit grey (no matter I had my own), I also sleep in my cotton sleeping liner on top of the bed (it is too warm to sleep under the covers), I spray this each evening with DEET, it does work, thank you dear daughter! Then out for a couple of beers.

I forgot to say my Tuck-Tuck driver didn’t charge me for the transport from the bus station to the hotel and I had hired him for 3 days to do the Temple tours and the sunrise (more about that later) and the Fishing village $70, that is below the going rate.

Sorry I haven’t many photos as I was either in a bus or standing in queues at the border, then it was dark, but I did take a few. But don’t worry I took thousands of the temples.

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