Destination – Thailand (parts 4 and 5) & Cambodia (part 2) – Koh Phangan, Bangkok, Sihanoukville, Siem Riep and Bangkok – the fine art of killing time and a very sticky festival
Yeah, I know it is our 4th time in Thailand on this trip, 6th all together, but come on, what a country. The islands are amazing, Bangkok rocks, Chiang Mai is incredible and don’t get us started on the food. Thailand really delivers! How did we get here? From KL airport, we got a shuttle bus to KL Central train station then an overnight train to Hat Yai, crossed the border, then a bus, a ferry and a taxi. We leave Australia on Saturday at 7AM and get to Koh Phangan on Sunday at 10PM. We were tired, dirty, hot, hungry and cranky but the minute we see the beach and go back to our lovely room at the Had Yao Bay View Resort, we get really, really, really happy. So happy, we hang around for the next 8 days.
We are again in killing time mode as we wait for the weather to warm up in Turkey and Europe. We try really hard but we can’t think of better places to kill time other than Thailand and Cambodia. So, our apologies if this blog gets a bit boring or repetitive as we are “revisiting” some places. Meanwhile, we’ll make sure we relax and have a great time working incredibly hard on our suntan in between great food and trips to the markets.
From Koh Phangan we go back to Bangkok for a week and once again enjoy all this incredible city has to offer. We never get tired of Bangkok’s amazing food and endless markets and we walk around all day everyday, sweating profusely and soaking up the vibe.
On the last day of our visa, we take a taxi-bus-van-walk across the border and then a taxi to Sihanoukville in Cambodia. This time we applied for an E-Visa and are a bit worried as we heard how corrupt the Cambodian immigration guys can be. Well, we have no worries at all with our E-Visa and are quickly welcomed back to Cambodia. Yeah, we’ve been to Cambodia before but why not? It is nice, cheap, warm, gentle, great value accommodation, fabulous food and great booze choices for about USD$10 – USD$12 a litre. Hello Bombay (Sapphire)! We arrive in Sihanoukville under a massive scary electric storm and one of the heaviest rains we’ve ever seen, and we’ve seen a lot of monsoon rain. Of course we revisit the beach shack on Victory Beach where I had the spiritual encounter with a plate of chili crabs. This time I order two serves and leave the place totally converted, there is a heaven.
After a couple of days we start to get restless as the place is a bit too busy and we miss the market action, it’s time to go back to Siem Riep.
As we’ve seen Angkor Wat in all its glory before, this time we can just chill out and enjoy the great atmosphere this place has to offer. We jump on a van – 5 hour bus – 6 hour bus – tuc tuc and we arrive back at the basic but lovely Vimean Angkor Pich Hotel. Again we are tired, hot and cranky, as on top of the infallible non-stop extremely loud Cambodian movies and music clips on buses, we also had the AC stop working for the last 3 hours of the trip, welcome to Cambodia. I really think they should use the same company that makes their TV/DVD player parts to make their AC parts. They never seen to break down, just a thought... Anyway, a small price to pay to be back in this great, pumping if a bit too touristy place. Now we concentrate hard on chilling out and planning the next part of our trip. Yeah, believe it or not, it involves a lot of work. Again we try to entertain ourselves with USD$0.50 draft beer and try not to eat too much chicken amok, lok lak or Khmer curry, which is really the hardest part. We also try to mix our planning sessions with some massages and trips to the markets. If you are ever in this region needing to kill some time, Siem Riep is highly recommended, and so we kill two very nice weeks. We are starting to make it into an art form.
With most of the planning done it is time to go back to yeah, you got it, Bangkok for the 5th time. We take a 3 ½ hour bus to Poi Pet, walk across the border, tuk tuk to the train station and jump on a cattle class 6 hour train to Bangkok. The ride is long but nice, quiet and smooth. We arrive late at the Erawan House hotel, tired but happy. The hotel guys all know us by now.
Amazingly enough, yet again and without any planning, we are in town for another major festival. This time, it is Thai New Year, happy “Songkran” everybody. All the businesses are closed for 4 days and the celebrations involve mostly massive battles with water pistols and buckets of water, sometimes even iced water. Thai people and tourists alike aim their water pistols, buckets of water and even hoses at each other and you get utterly wet before even leaving your hotel reception. Also, for added emotion, a white paste, mix of talcum powder and water is carried around in small buckets and pasted on people’s faces and clothes. It is wet, it is sticky and its lots of fun and of course we had to get to Khao San Road and join in, yeah, still refusing to grow old gracefully.
The last day of the New Year celebrations coincide with the last day of our time in Asia, a time for new beginnings. After 18 months in Asia, it is time for us to leave this place we love so much and have gotten to know so well. It’s kind of sad really, even though we are so looking forward to what is coming next we cannot deny our strong connections with this region. On a happier note, “ciao Phad Thai, hello Turkish kebab”.