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Crossing into Cambodia

THAILAND | Sunday, 1 June 2008 | Views [1204]

29th-30th May 2008

Finally, I am out of Bangkok. Stephen and I travelled by bus and ferry to an island called Koh Chang, which is an island in Eastern Thailand. The island was a convenient stopping off point for a couple of days before entering Cambodia through the southernmost border crossing (Hat Lek - Ko Kong).

The island has the reputation of being quite chilled and laid-back with stretches of white-sand beaches. However, my impession differed from this. As we were visiting in the low season, the island felt practically deserted. This impression was not helped by the fact that it rained during our time here and the only convenient form of transportation across the island is by motorbike - which neither Stephen nor I can drive.

Our room was quite basic - a concrete bungalow with double bed and en-suite bathroom (which had a hole in the thatched roof).

While Stephen went for an elephant trek through the jungle-centre of the island, I decided to go in search of one of the waterfalls at the centre of the island. Personally, I found the waterfall to be more impressive than the Erawan waterfalls that I saw in Western Thailand, simply because the water fell from a higher elevation which had a more dramatic impact.

Our lunch was then spent in a seafood restaurant that was recommended in my guidebook - big mistake! Why?

1) The waiter brought three dishes for the two of us, as he failed to understand that Stephen had cancelled the order for one of the dishes (because it was VERY expensive).

2) I ordered an overpriced crab dish, which was a lot of work to eat - I probably burned as much energy finding the crabmeat as I gained from the meal itself.

3) The waiter attempted to fit my glass in a coaster that was too small to fit it. As a result, he dropped the pineapple shake all over me and smashed the glass on top of me. As a result, a piece of glass went into my foot. Fortunately, the cut was not too bad.

We spent the rest of the evening visiting the white-sand beaches at the northern part of the island - which is surrounded by resorts.

31st May 2008

We departed from the island in the early morning to the mainland, to catch a bus to Hat Lek (the Thai side of the border crossing). I had a few difficulties since my passport had been soaked wet two weeks previously which caused the ink to run on my Cambodia visa. As a result the intimidating officer in charge of the border crossing got very annoyed, because of the difficulties of issuing two visas to the same person. I was required to buy a new visa and write a fairly lengthy letter in the presence of the officer in charge of that border which declared the old visa was void and undertaking not to attempt to make use of it.

The security at the border seemed surprisingly lax. As soon as we had crossed over to the Cambodia side, we were harrassed ceaselessly by about a dozen moto drivers (motorbike taxis - the most common form of transport in Cambodia). They simply wouldn't take "no" for an answer.

Stephen and I were also very sceptical about what they were telling us, in particular how far away the nearest town was. So we decided to walk 1km to the next checkpoint, before it became apparent that we would need to get a taxi to the next town - Ko Kong.

For a border town, Ko Kong was surpisingly pleasant. The town has the reputation of being a gambling den and hideout for the Thai mafia. But, with a river running along one side of the town, I felt very relaxed here.

The accommodation was very basic - twin bedroom with fan, not very clean, and shared bathroom. I think I have realised that when it comes to accommodation, I really do not care what facilities the room has as long as it is clean. But it was only one night, so it was fine.

Stephen returning from his elephant trek through the centre of Koh Chang island.

Stephen returning from his elephant trek through the centre of Koh Chang island.

Tags: border, cambodia, chang, crossing, kong, thailand


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