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Visa Run: Round 1 Cambodia

CAMBODIA | Friday, 30 March 2012 | Views [524]

I do not like Cambodia; especially Phnom Penh! I even tried to go in open minded, willing to give it a second shot as I travelled there thursday to apply for a new 60 day tourist visa for Thailand. I was looking forward to eating some Chicken Amok (probably my favourite dish I've eaten throughout my entire trip in Southeast Asia), and planning on walking around the city in hopes of finding a "nicer side" to the city.

Things started to go down hill soon after crossing the border into Cambodia. I had booked a return vip ticket to Phnom Penh from Bangkok. This was supposed to involve an aircon van/bus to the border leaving Bangkok at 7:00am, walking across the border and reboarding a vip aircon van/bus which would drop me off in the backpackers district of Phnom Penh. On the Cambodian side, I was shuffled into a large cramped bus. Thankfully, at the bus terminal I was buddied up with a young guy from the states, who teaches swing dancing in Bangkok and we were seated together. After leaving the terminal, we literally stopped every 5m throughout the city of Poi Pet picking up people. We continued to pick more people up along the way, and needless today, our bus that was supposed to arrive in Phnom Penh at 9:00pm, arrived well after midnight. My new buddy was unimpressed, as he was heading there for a dance showcase weekend and he managed to miss the entire social that was taking place.

On arriving in Phnom Pehn, we were dropped off at an unknown location, with no signs of guesthouses in sight. I stuck with my buddy as I had no idea where to look for accomodations, and he had a few options. The first place our tuk tuk took us was the most seedy looking guest house you could imagine. There is no other way to describe it other then Seedy. From here our Tuk Tuk driver suggested a different location, which we went to and were both able to book rooms. After a quick shower, I collapsed into bed, exhausted from the 16-17 hour trip.

The next morning I cringed at the sound of my alarm clock. I could have used another couple of hours sleep, but I was determined to get out and take care of my visa. I had a quick breakfast and hopped on a tuk tuk and headed to the Thai Embassy. In most countries, you can have a visa processed in less then 24 hours. You drop your passport and application off in the morning and by the afternoon it's done. Simple right? Wrong! in Cambodia, it takes 4 business days to process a visa; I was there on a friday. I would have had to stay until the next thursday in order to get my 60 visa. I was not willing to spend a week miserable in Phnom Penh! I decided I would return to Bangkok without it and collect my 15 day visa at the border.

The next days bus trip was a bit more enjoyable. I had a lovely Cambodian lady sitting next to me on the bus, that offered me some food of unknown origin, and kept smiling at me for the first part of the journey. I was later given a bunch of lychee fruit to snack on by a younger lady sitting behind me that was sharing fruit with all of her bus neighbours. It was a nice pick me up after a rotten 24 hours in Phnom Penh. Unfortunately, due to the nature of Cambodian buses, I missed my travel agency's last van back to Bangkok. Thankfully there was a private van of Norwegian girls headed for Bangkok. I explained the situation to the girls and they agreed to let me hop aboard for 200THB. I was so please to be back in Thailand and beginning my journey back to Koh Tao.

The next morning was Sunday, and I was finally in Bangkok on a weekend and able to go to Jatuchat Weekend market after booking my return trip to Bangkok. What a place! It is the largest open air market in the world and there is no other way to describe it but OVERWHELMING! But, at the same time incredible. I was able to find some good deals on some lighter shirts for my stay on koh tao, and finally able to replace my flip flops that were continuously falling apart. After spending an hour and a half wandering around I needed to leave before I spent to much!

After my crazy day of shopping I boarded a night bus and headed back to Koh Tao. And here I am. Back on the island and preparing to start my rescue and recovery course tomorrow morning. I have moved into the long term diving accomodations, which seem good. By the end of the week I will be a dive master in training!

Stay tuned for Visa Run: Round 2 Malaysia!

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