Travelling – day 370

We had a 6.30am pick up from the guesthouse to take us to the bus station. Fortunately, it had stopped raining for long enough for us to make it from reception to the minibus without getting soaking wet! A rather uneventful almost 6 hour bus journey to get us from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh took us past flooded roads. We even drive past a TukTuk that was almost submerged in a ditch at the side of the road. I reckon the road was so flooded that he just drove straight off the road…

Ate a packet of crackers for breakfast, the only food items we could find in the shop last night, before stopping for ‘breakfast’. A rather disappointing stop as the food looked a. disgusting; b. like it was cooked a week ago; and c. totally overpriced. Giving it a miss, the only thing Jayne really wanted was the super cute fluffy puppy with an amputated front paw. Arriving at the bus station in Phnom Penh, we had the usual performance from the TukTuk drivers who didn’t quite seem to understand that we were staying at the bus station to transfer to another bus – although they could all regurgitate a string of Cockney rhyming slang! We even had the same driver approach us three times using exactly the same speech each time. 

Popped into the nearby supermarket to stretch our legs and buy some snacks for the next bus journey. Tried to find this elusive blueberry Fanta that we saw advertised back in Siem Reap to no avail. We tried to find somewhere to eat on the way back to the bus station but with every restaurant looking worryingly empty (eat where the locals eat after all), we decided to buy a pork sandwich from the kiosk at the station instead – it was delicious!
Back on another bus for our 7 hour journey to Battambang. Chatted to the man in front of us who lives and works in Siem Reap as a professor of agricultural. It was really interesting listening to him talk about how he trains Cambodians to double their earnings through their crops. It was slightly difficult to hear him at times over the Cambodian karaoke music blaring out. He left the bus halfway and we watched some ‘Dexter’ to pass the time. The bus did the typical ‘India’ thing of driving around the outside of the town and then dropping us a couple of kms away from everything. When we got off the bus, there were only motorbike taxis that wanted to charge us $2 each to go 3km… Neither of us wanted to get on a motorbike again after the Preah Vihear experience so we started walking. At which point, a TukTuk turned up. Since it was late and it was dark, we asked him ‘how much?’ At this point, he started with ‘free today but you take me tomorrow’. Knowing that we didn’t want to hire a TukTuk tomorrow we asked him again. Despite explaining that we didn’t want a TukTuk tomorrow but we were happy to pay a good (the right!) price tonight, he didn’t seem to notice. Decided to cut our losses and walk anyway, we then got the speech about Battambang being full of gangsters and murderers so it wasn’t safe to walk. If only he could have seen us roll our eyes in the dark…

The walk, where we weren’t raped or murdered, was easy enough and we were soon enough at our guesthouse only to find out that we had no room despite pre paying through Agoda. A slight disagreement where they wanted to put us in a male dorm room and we refused resulted in us being sent to another hotel for the night. At this point, we were more than slightly pissed off, so when the guy who showed us to our room started asking if we wanted a TukTuk tomorrow, we closed the door in his face and then blocked it with a chair. Climbing into twin beds, we fell into an uneasy sleep from the adrenaline rush. 
Tuesday 11th October 2016

Travelling – day 344

A rather non eventful day filled with buses! We’d organised our mini bus back to Bangkok at 7.30am with the aim that we would have plenty of time to get a bus up to Sukhothai, North Thailand, without any issues. Quickly had a flick through emails and Facebook whilst we waited for the ‘taxi’ to arrive. Driving down the road it seemed like the driver was playing a real life version of ‘Mario Kart’. I think the more worrying part of it was the sign that said ‘please wear your seatbelt’ – no shit! I really wanted to but the seatbelts were all wedged into the seats making them unusable. So clinging to each other instead, we weaved in and out of traffic clearly trying to hit the magical ‘?’ boxes to get extra mushrooms or lightening bolts. It was almost a joy when we stopped for petrol, obviously having used up so much petrol in our race car! Weirdly, the petrol seemed to be being pumped straight into the engine rather than into the tank from the side…As soon as we hit Bangkok, we could understand why the driver may have been driving like that… It was gridlock. Clearly with a fast turn around and deadline to drop off and pick up passengers, we made up so much time in the first section that we were still on time at the train station despite our crawling speed for the last couple of kilometres. Arriving at Mo Chit bus terminal, we headed to the hundreds of ticket counters to find the one to get us to Sukhothai. Apparently, most of them do so it was just a case of choosing one that suited our budget and time frame! Got the one leaving as soon as possible but it still meant we had an hour and a half wait. Fortunately, the bus terminal was air conditioned and clean so we settled down with our stuff in a seat whilst Jayne pottered off to look for a timetable to get us to Cambodia in a couple of days. We had sat next to the information hut which had a series of adverts for the bus companies, playing out like mini soap operas – the boy and girl who sit next to each other on the bus and fall in love; the old man who loses his basket of star fruit on the bus (don’t ask!) and the young man who ‘stole’ them and then returned them! Dragging ourselves away from the brilliantly poor acting, we headed over to the food court to get some lunch before the bus. We ordered the worst curry we have ever eaten, the meat was mostly gristle and even the rice was undercooked – it was really disappointing. Stopped off at the 7-Eleven to grab some snacks for the bus and headed over to our bay. The cutest baby boy was stood there with his mum. As we smiled at him, he threw up the pinkest vomit I have ever seen. Giving the mum some wet wipes to help clean him up, the kid kept throwing up… I had no idea that much vomit could come out of something so small! No one seemed particularly fussed that this little vomit machine was about to get on a bus for 6 hours as the bus driver just kept throwing buckets of water down where he had been sick. Of course, we were sat just behind the mum and child – and next to them was a military police officer in a pristine beige uniform…

The journey wasn’t too bad although the 6 hour journey did take nearly 8 (oh, how I miss the reliable time keeping of the Greyhound buses in Australia!). Managed to pass the time by watching ‘Modern Family’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ on the iPad. That’s right – I have succumbed to peer pressure and started watching GOT. I’m three episodes in and I can tell you three things… 2 character names (John Snow and Kaleesi) and that ‘winter is coming’ – that is all I know from three hours of watching! Anyway, I’m sticking with it cause I know Jayne really wants me to get into it before she starts watching the second series. Had a bit too much screen time so decided to take a nap… Foolishly stretching my feet out under the seat in front of me as, after 6 hours of nothing, the vomit kid decided to make a swift but effective come back – all over my feet… Damn me for wearing flip flops!Arriving in Sukhothai at about 20:30, we were happy to stretch our legs and walk the 1 kilometre to our guesthouse, even in the rain. Dumping our bags, we headed straight out to find something to eat. Not much open at that time but we found a restaurant called ‘Poo’. For the novelty factor more than anything, we went in and ordered Sukhothai noodle soup (a slightly sweet broth with peanuts, glass noodles and chicken). It was really nice and was probably the best thing we could have eaten as it wasn’t too heavy but it did fill up our bellies. Back at the guesthouse for a quick shower to wash off the days grime (and the remaining vomit that didn’t come off with the wet wipe) before crawling into bed. 

Thursday 15th September 2016