Holiday in Cambodia
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I spent the 2 weeks in Bangkok investigating different options for my continuing mission to seek out new life, and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has...................oh, sorry, got distracted there for a minute.
um, ya, I went to some embassies, talked to other travelers and did some research online, before settling on a plan of action. Unfortunately, every time I drove my bike around in daylight the police would pull me over and harass me, trying to find some reason to give me a "fine". But I didn't play their games, or give them any money.
As a side note, while I was in bangkok there was a discussion being carried on in the editorials of the newspaper about the police and their "fines"
you can read about it here:
I never encountered this problem myself, but I don't smoke and never ate anything with a wrapper while walking.
Why can't they learn from the Mexican police and just get their extra money from Druglords
and leave the tourists alone?
Anyway, I rested up, got everything ready, and headed out Saturday morning at 9am on the dot. My plan was to just get to the cambodian border (250km) and spend the night there, as it was the last day for my thai visa and I had to leave the country or pay a fee for overstaying. I did have lots of fun in Bangkok, but I was rested up and it was time to leave anyway.
The sky was overcast and some parts looked threatening but I wasn't too worried, after an hour or so I finally got to the outskirts of bangkok and into the countryside, it started to rain, more of a drizzle, but I had to stop and put my jacket on, it only rained for about half an hour and then cleared up and got warm and sunny, so I put my jacket away. About 10 minutes later it started to rain again (still warm and sunny) so I took my jacket out and put it back on, after a few miles it stopped raining, but I kept my jacket on anyway as the sky was dark and cloudy. After hour of not raining, I took my jacket off as it was too warm, about 10 minutes later it started to rain again, so I had to put it back on. It was an odd day, It wasn't the dark menacing clouds that rained on me, it was the pale overcast ones, I could see the different cloud systems moving in and was trying to drive ahead of them so they would cross the road behind me, sometimes I made it sometimes I didn't. I don't really know if avoiding the dark clouds did any good as it was the light ones that rained on me. It stopped raining about 10 miles from the border.
Eventually I made it to the border, the road to the border is quite narrow and there isn't much traffic on it for the last mile or so as not many vehicles cross the border. About 100 meters before the border there was a sign that said "Cambodian Visa Here" and a guy stepped out into the road and waved me into a parking lot
As I said there isn't much vehicle traffic crossing here, most tourists take one bus to the border and walk across and get on another bus to continue, the Thai people with cars, have no reason to go to poor cambodia, and the cambodians can not afford cars. There were lots of people pushing carts filled with goods to trade on the other side. By this time it was raining again. I stopped my bike at a vehicle booth and gave the guy the paper that the other border gave me to get the bike into Thailand, I left the bike in the middle of the road and had to walk thru the building with all the pedestrian tourist (the locals didn't seem to go thru and checkpoints or show papers to anyone, kind of like vietnam and china, its strange to see these "closed" "totalitarian" countries just stand there while masses of people walk back and forth with no scrutiny, I wish America and Canada were like that, only bother the foreigners and leave the locals alone)
Cambodia drives on the correct (right) side of the road, however there isn't a defined point where you switch over like with Laos, its just somewhere between here and there you start driving on the other side, with not much traffic it doesn't matter.
In the no-mans land between cambodia and thailand the cambodians have allowed several huge casino-resorts to exist for the thai people to gamble in cambodia without having to deal with the border check-point (they aren't in thailand, but they haven't been stamped into cambodia, less paperwork do deal with day tourists, again, canada and america could learn something). In the middle of this is the immigration building where you get a cambodian visa, I filled out the form and paid my $20, the whole process took 2 minutes. And then onto the cambodian check point. Again I left my bike in the road, and went into the building with the pedestrians, where my visa was duly checked, stamped, and then the stamp was stamped, and that was verified with another stamp ( as masses of locals walked thru the border without even looking at the checkpoint) I was then told because of my motorbike I had to go see customs to get papers for it and it was across the street, so I went across the street to a couple of other buildings, but could not find the customs shack, I wandered back and forth across the border a few times and asked some people, but no one knew, so I went back to my bike and a guy came out of the passport building and said I needed to go to customs, YA, BUT WHERE IS IT? "oh, its in town, about a quarter mile down the road, yu'll find it."
Ok then, sure enough the customs building was there, looking like every other 18th century customs house, there didn't seem to be much going on, I parked the bike, and walked in to the building, there didn't seem to be any sort of method or system going on, I poked my head into a few rooms, some were empty and the people I did see just shook their heads and waved me away
hmmmmmmmm, ok...........uh...........well, nice meeting you..............
as I was about to leave one of them had an idea, he gave me one of those little customs forms you get (are you bringing in currency of more than $10,000 cash? anything to declare? how much alcohol and cigarettes? ect) I filled it out and put my bike on it and they stamped it and signed it and that was it. The entire time this was happening there were two people at a table in a corner going thru a stack of paper stamping away with the gusto that only communist have for an official stamp.
Right, thru the border, and its still raining. There weren't any good reviews about this dingy border town, and the only people who stay here are people who HAVE to stay here, so the rooms are a bit more expensive. As it was still raining, I couldn't check into a hotel and go for a walk as I usually would, AND as I didn't like the look of the town, I decided to keep going to the next city which was 50km away and had heard better things. The road was in great shape, it was just paved a few years ago to move tourists more easily. After a few miles it stopped raining, and I was driving thru the countryside, with lots of people walking, bicycling, carrying things, living, ect. Then it started to rain again, as I got into town I pulled into the gas station to fill up, there was a large crowed, and I was wondering why so many people were buying fuel at this time, then I realized it was raining and everyone had just pulled under the canopy to get out of the rain, so a soaking wet foreigner on a vietnamese bike was quite a sight. I got fueled up and as it was still raining, I decided to just keep going to Siem Reap as I was only 100km away and I was already completely soaking wet, and there was no point in stopping here, just to sit in a hotel room until morning to put on my still-wet boots and it might be raining in the morning.
Now at this point it was 5pm and I had already done 300km
About 20km from Siem Reap the rain stopped, and I got to my hotel with no problems, took a shower and went for a walk to find some dinner. ( when you are soaking wet and filthy, its hard to feel clean after a shower). 400km in one day, my longest so far, if I had planned on going this far, I would have left earlier, and I think my slothfull ways in bangkok recharged my energy enough to make it. It was certainly the most wet day of riding I have had yet, and I'm glad the minsk handled the weather perfectly. I will concede this to those of you who travel by bus and train (you know who you are), you never have to worry about the rain, and you can stay up late the night before and don't have to deal with traffic, you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.