The taxi, the bus and the borders


(15.3.2013)

After consulting the means of quick transportation to the Mo Chit bus terminal in the morning, I opted for the local way – just get the taxi at the street. Well, it was like the street was overflowing with them. The one I found had the driver sleeping on the backseat not reacting to any kind of decent knocking. Luckily, just as I crossed the street, one free taxi was coming my way, so after all it went as I was told I would.
We got into some morning traffic (although we were going in the direction out from the center), but nothing major and I did keep quite the time reserve between leaving the hostel and the time the bus would leave. So when I got to Mo Chit, it wasn't even closely as expensive as I expected and I had about an hour time before the bus would leave.

Thanks to that, I had to participate in the morning anthem listening (the lady next to me seemed very offended I didn't jump right up and effectively she didn't allow me sit through it).

Then I realized that in my rage the previous day, I completely forgot to exchange some baths for dollars before I would get to some ATM in Siem Reap.
My bus was leaving 9am sharp and naturally, the banks and exchange places open at the very exact same time. Oh well, I would need to manage somehow.

Around 8.30 the bus arrived and people started getting in. And well, I can't be all that lucky all the time, so this time, I had a local lady sitting next to me. But local ladies are generally tiny so at least that, if nothing else.
Shortly after we departed, the usual closing and stuffing things up the A/C holes took place. We got snacks and drinks and the road went on and on. There wasn't really much to see in those parts of the country.

All the fun started at the borders, but as I got the e-Visa to Cambodia beforehand, I saved some time, money and nerves (no need to hurry, no need to bribe anyone).
Despite the time I saved when others were filling up the applications for the Visa to Cambodia, there was no saving time when waiting in the line to get my passport stamped and leaving the country.
After passing the Thai border, we were vaguely directed somewhere forward towards our bus and the Cambodian border. At that time I was already teaming up with some other people from the bus as we were all equally confused where we should go, what we should do etc. because we were all obviously referring to the same source of information that claimed that after crossing the Thai border, they would just get back on the bus and the drivers would collect the passports, get those stamped so the people wouldn't need to walk between the borders and wait in the line at the Cambodian border. That was obviously no longer happening (in a way) as our drivers were just waiting for us at the bus. They offered to handle it for us for a small fee. So thank you, waiting in a line it was. But Aussies, Brits and Canadians are always a good company, so it wasn't all that bad after all. Even my e-Visa was accepted without a problem and the last of my fears were gone.

A lot of things seemed to have changed with this direct bus from BKK to SR. On forums and blogs I read that at the beginning, when the line opened, they wouldn't wait for the people who didn't have the Visa ready and would just leave without them and so on. I assume they had people complaining because that didn't happen with us. They drove us to all the places we needed to go to have all the paperwork properly done and they waited until we were all set and ready.
When everybody was finally on board, we could continue.

My mind was quite blown to see in what condition the country is, I didn't expect that. Truth is, I spent hours reading about Cambodian history a few days later, so then I finally understood, but not at this time. The land was flat, dry and looked very desperate.

When I was booking a room at one guesthouse at SR, they repeated frequently that I should call and inform them what bus stop in SR we would get out, as there are many, and they would sent an own tuk-tuk to pick me up. I still managed to make a phone call from the borders, but when I got off the bus at SR, my phone (rather my operator) was no longer able make a phone call. Lovely. So there I was, once again a stranger in a strange place unable to do what I needed to. And the only solid piece of info where I needed to go was the name of the place (which later turned out not to be as solid as I thought it was). Two Aussie/Brit guys without any hostel booking teamed up with me eventually (they would come with me to see if there were any rooms available at the guesthouse I was going to), we got one of the tuk-tuks waiting there and left.
The name of the place I gave to the driver, which I considered all the necessary info, was 'Angor Villa'. And so we were taken to one. Well, we were obviously taken to some Angkor Villa, but already by the look at it, I knew that wasn't it. You know your price range. So after a little of arguing with the driver, I went in to see. Luckily, the lady at the reception was very nice and spoke great English so eventually we came to the conclusion I'm in a wrong place, and she was even nice enough to call my actual guesthouse. Then it turned out that the name of my guesthouse was 'Advisor Angor Villa'. Right.
If nothing else, I learned to write down the whole damn name including the address of any place I would need to search for in the future. You live and learn.

But then I was soon at the right place, checked in, agreed I would pay for the room the next day when I finally get some cash and settled in. Complimentary bottle of water is always much appreciated. Refrigerator in the room also.

After much needed shower, I dropped my backpack full of valuables at the reception (no safety box in the room) and went on a search for an ATM. Finding one turned out to be fairly easy, getting something out of it, not so much.

The nearest ATM was at a gas station/restaurant/minimart, that was just behind the corner. When I got there, there was another tourist (read: white) guy at the ATM, obviously struggling to get his cash. He tried several times, then he noticed me, apologized for being there so long and left to the minimart part. And then I ended up doing exactly what he did, struggling to get my cash. I got as far as putting in the pin and the amount of money, but then the ATM informed me that it somehow doesn't like the bank that issued my card and piss off, or something like that. I tried a few times, different amounts, but it always said the same. As I was leaving the place, getting a little freaked out what's the reason behind that madness, the other guy was just leaving the store. So I stopped him, asking him if he could get any cash and I was told that he failed also, but he thought he forgot his PIN number. We wished each other good luck and went to look for another ATM.

Luckily, I just needed to cross the street to find another one. It rather looked like an old phone booth, but to my overwhelming joy, it gave me money! And asked for no fee!

The only thing left to do that day was a dinner and let me tell you, dragon fruit smoothie for one dollar, I don't mind.


(16.3.2013)

Saturday went, all in all, to relaxing and planning the visit to the temples but also the rest of my stay in Cambodia. Booking place at Phnom Pehn and discovering (being told about) Koh Ru.

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