11th February 2015
Very early start and we are all dreading the long journey to Bangkok but once again Intrepid have made it as easy as possible with the journey broken up and we have a long rest stop at Poipet. As we are all there to look and try and get food for the journey a funeral cortege passes. What I noticed most was popcorn being thrown onto the street. I have also seen shop owners do this in the mornings over their entrances. It’s feeding souls at rest. They believe that if you die from illness your soul is prepared and ready to be reincarnated, however if you die in and RTC or by suicide this soul isn’t really and needs to be fed. The popcorn on the road was for previous deaths, over the centuries it is assumed that people have died here. At the shops it is to feed the Gods and make them happy and thus bring good business that day
So on to the border crossing at Poipet, oh this is bedlam. We leave our bus nd head for passport control on the Poipet side. Our luggage is taken through for us separately and we queue and queue and queue some more. Photographed, finger printed and we are let leave. We walk over the no mans bridge to Thailand immigration. Another very long queue snaking up and down and 3 pages of information to complete before we ever get to a desk. As our Thai stay is less than 16 days we don’t need to purchase a visa. So back on the bus, or should I say busses. Fila is no longer our official tour guide, so we are joined by a Thai, Fila in one bus and a Thai in another. So we are now on Thailand
What came home to be forcefully at the border was the ages of the Cambodians. There are no old people, most didn’t survive the war, those who did were wealthy and could afford passage out in the early days. There are very few young people, few jobs, poor pay, no prospects. There were queues upon queues at the Thai immigration. All crossing over for work
A few more hours and a few stops later we finally arrive in Bangkok. Our hotel is the Vietgtri Hotel. It’s in a superb location and is fine. We are lucky again, our room is very high up so the street noise should keep it’s distance. On the Intrepid trip notes there were a few optional activities which we could do in Bangkok, however, we don’t see Fila and can’t find any information. The majority of the group have been in Bangkok before but the Diamonds and us haven’t. I felt Fila slipped up here assuming we were fine. Bob and I dumped our bag and went straight out for a walk. We are parallel to Kao San Road so strolled up here while it was quiet, then we walked over to the Buddha taking in a few Thai temples on the way. The wealth of this country in comparison to Cambodia hits you as soon as you cross the border. We returned to the hotel for a quick shower and change before our final group meal. This was upstairs in a restaurant in a private room. The meal was fine, everything was fine but many of us were disappointed as it was our final meal together as a group and there wasn’t anything really special about here. As the younger members of the group clicked better with Fila we organised a tip and left it to Ben to say a few words. Fila thanked us then and in my opinion did something very unprofessional. He produced what was leftover from our group kitty money and asked what he would do with it. Didn’t amount to much so we all said to keep it, hmm, no problem but if you remember Khanh was so particular about everyone signing the receipt and insisting own giving us the money before the final dinner I was a bit surprised at Fila. When dinner was over we headed to a bar on Kao San Road where we got mojitos by the bucket! At one stage there was a group of us dancing and another group taking pictures and videoing us. Its out there somewhere. As people left we said our goodbyes and said we were having breakfast opposite the hotel at 10. So duly packed and really to go we were early the following morning and joined most of the group for our final goodbyes and breakfast.
So we had 24 hours in Bangkok and we both agree it was long enough. I cannot stress how hot and uncomfortable it is. Even with air con I’d have a shower, dry myself and was wet again before I was dressed. I and others seemed to spend our time there in a lather of sweat. The city is crazy, mad, hectic, bustling, loud, frenetic you name it. Yes I would have liked to have seen more of the city but there is no way I could do longer than 24 hours. The rule of thumb seems to be 3 days. I have no doubt that at some stage in the future we will be passing through Bangkok and I’m happy to take another 24 hours just to seer what I need to see and for me that doesn’t include a ping pong show
So at 11.30 we faced the craziest traffic in the world and headed for the airport in a taxi. Our flight would take us to Phuket then a transfer to Cape Penna which is on the tip of the Adaman Peninsula. We are both looking forward to our down week
This marks the end of the Intrepid Tour “Best of Vietnam and Cambodia”