Travelling – day 367

Now, we weren’t expecting good things from today. The guy who sold us our tickets was clearly a scam artist and we had kicked up a bit of a fuss yesterday when we went back to confront him. We weren’t expecting the day to go without incident and we were right! 

Leaving out guesthouse at 6am to make sure we were at the pick up point early enough so it couldn’t be claimed we weren’t there, we waited… And waited… And waited. Jayne called the number he gave us for ‘any problems’ but it was turned off (or disconnected!!). Fortunately, a staff member used a different number and within five minutes, a mini bus had picked us up and was driving us towards Phnom Penh. We were waiting to see if the other rows of seats got crowded since we had ‘paid extra to not share our seats’… Clearly wasn’t going to happen as everyone had their own seat the entire journey. Stopped at a rest stop after about 2 hours for a late breakfast / early lunch. We ordered a bowl of noodle soup although I ate most of Jaynes meat – it was either beef liver or tongue. I loved it! It reminded me of being back in France. Back on the minibus for a couple of hours, we arrived in Phnom Penh – in the middle of nowhere. I made Jayne stay on the minibus whilst I sorted things out. We were supposed to have bus tickets in our hands for Kampot at this point and a transfer to the bus station. Fortunately, the bus driver seemed to understand my hand gestures and I was pushed back into the minibus and I was given a mobile phone. I ended up speaking to the boss of the travel agency we had used who said we had bus tickets to Kampot but needed to pay another $15. For those who don’t know me, I rarely get angry, but at this demand I lost it! I could see the driver look at me in the mirror as he negotiated the busy streets as Jayne rubbed my leg telling me to calm down. Turns out the boss didn’t realise that not only had we paid for the entire journey but also that Map had taken so much money off us – even he was shocked at how much we had been charged. He agreed we didn’t have to pay any extra but ‘conveniently’ couldn’t get hold of Map to confirm our overpayment for a refund… At least we had bus tickets in our hand at this point and were at the bus station. In the grand scheme of things, it was only $20 but it is the principal of the situation. Consoled ourselves with the fact that this is the first time it had happened during our year of travelling and it was a lesson learnt not to pay for anything when we are tired!!!

Got a pork baguette sandwich and some crisps at the bus station before boarding a second mini bus to Kampot. It wasn’t very busy. In fact, there was more parcels and packages to be dropped off en route than passengers! Passed the time watching ‘Game of Thrones’ and watching the countryside pass by. Dropped off the other two passengers in the seaside town of Kep before continuing the last thirty minutes to Kampot. Turns out our cheapest guesthouse of the trip is one of the nicest!!! Amazing beds and a lovely bathroom, we are both a bit gutted that we are only here for two nights. Headed to the waterfront and walked past the colonial buildings decorated with hundreds of fairy lights. Made our way slowly to the night markets where we had fried noodles and fried rice sat in the middle section with the funfair rides for children. The merry-go-round looked particularly fun as each horse was held on with ropes which meant you could swing them even more… And the kids did! So much so that one almost fell off. Walked to the supermarket to grab some breakfast supplies and an ice cream before heading up to the softest and thickest mattresses we have had in SE Asia. Saturday 8th October 2016

Sukhothai – day 345

Not the most energetic of mornings. In fact, I slept on and off until about 10am which never happens. Had to remind myself that we have been traveling for 11 months now and not a week. I think that Australia was so ‘easy’ that it felt like being back at home whereas, in reality, we have done so much that it won’t kill either of us to have a lie in! 
The town we are in flourished from the mid-13th century to the late 14th century. Known as the ‘Sukhothai (Rising of Happiness) Kingdom’, that period is often viewed as the golden age of Thai civilisation, and the religious art and architecture of the era are considered to be the most classic of Thai styles. The remains of the kingdom, today known as meu-ang gów (old city) features around 45 sq km of partially rebuilt ruins, which are one of the most visited ancient sites in Thailand. However, we decided to skip the ancient city for today as neither of us had the energy or attention levels to visit our 55th UNESCO site and really appreciate it so we decided to visit the new town instead. 
Slowly getting ready, we walked into town past the river with its banks almost at bursting point. The water was about a foot away from the top of the wall and there were sand bags placed at certain sections were the wall was clearly slightly compromised… As water started trickling out behind it! 
Stopped by the tourist information centre to ask if there was a laundry nearby for us to do some washing only to find that it was closed and they were pumping river water out from their garden back into the river as quickly as the river was depositing more water back into the garden…

Decided that we weren’t going to get very far with all the flooded roads so we opted for an early lunch (or late second breakfast) in Poo. The lady in the restaurant pointed us in the direction of a laundry so, as Jayne ordered our food, I went and dropped off our clothes. Walking through the town after lunch we watched men fishing in the relief rivers and people going about their everyday business. For a tourist town, they clearly aren’t used to tourists walking around the new section! Our walk brought us out near the bus station so we decided to buy our tickets back to Bangkok for Sunday before continuing our walk. 

Found a temple, but we have no idea what the name is as its not mentioned in the guidebook or on any map, which was a beautifully decorated Chinese style temple complete with dragons. Even though it was deserted, there was a chimney full of burning offerings and incense burning from sand pots. Around the corner and over the bridge we stopped at another temple, Wat Ratchathani, which was clearly also having issues with flooding as the monks looked like they were walking on water as they crossed the site. Even the chickens were using the planks of wood that had been placed down to make the path accessible. Another beautiful temple, we found a quiet seat to sit and admire it in the quiet and calm. The only other thing to do in town was visit the museum which was 3km away – deciding that it was getting too late in the day to walk there and neither of us wanted to begin negotiations with a TukTuk, we made the hard decision to go back to the guesthouse and use the swimming pool instead – it was a really tough decision!! We messed around in the water until the sun set before going back to our room to get dressed and head out for dinner. Tried to find the night market to get something to eat. Think we walked past it – it was a handful of stalls, nothing like what was described in the Lonely Planet. Not sure whether it has moved as our MapsMe app said we were in the right place, we decided to cut our losses and went back to ‘Poo’. A couple of curries and a game of monopoly later, we stopped by 7-Eleven to grab some ice creams and headed back to our room for some ‘Modern Family’. 

Friday 16th September 2016