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Ayutthaya & Bangkok

After about a week in the north of Thailand, We had a night train booked from Chiang Mai to Ayutthaya which Stac was a little apprehensive about, after a bad experience that we had in Vietnam, you can read about that here, but as soon as we saw the train we could tell that this one was very different. The train was brand new, clean, aeroplane clean in fact, with soap and tissue in the western bathrooms, big comfy seats that convert to beds just at night-time and a charging socket in each bed. The ride wasn’t too noisy or bumpy, in fact it was very enjoyable, it would have been even better if we weren’t still feeling a bit ill.

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Chiang Mai & Chiang Rai

The journey from Siem Reap to Bangkok was supposed to take 7-8 hours by bus, but of course it didn’t, the journey was fairly smooth in a reasonably comfortable bus though. About three hours after setting off we arrived at the Thailand border, at which point the bus stopped at the bus company’s office, they gave us entry cards for Thailand and took all our passports to complete the Cambodian exit part of the border. I’m never a fan of handing our passports over to a bus company but we didn’t really have much choice.

What did confuse us, was that twenty minutes later, the guy who had the passports came back and the passports were nowhere to be seen, but not before another guy took all of our bags out of the minibus, put them on a trolley and disappeared with them. Questions to the staff about what was happening went unanswered. It turned out he was taking them to go through the scan process at the border, and we were loaded back on to the minibus for about a 200 metre journey to the Thai border section, this was when the obvious happened, another corrupt entrepreneur who now had our passports but apparently spoke no English, wanted $10 each to ‘fast-track’ us through the border, he showed us he had our passports and put them away again.

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Siem Reap & Angkor Archaeological Park

We were picked up by the bus company from Phnom Penh around 6.30am to go to Siem Reap, the second biggest city of Cambodia, the bus company said the journey would take over 6 hours, but we set of at 7am and arrived in Siem Reap by 12pm. We had booked in a place to stay in Siem Reap that was a little out of the city but offered free tuktuk rides to and from the centre, they told us they would pick us up from the bus station at 1pm, so we went down the road and found a place to get some lunch before going back to the bus station to be picked up.

After three phone calls to the hotel, an hour of standing in the street with our bags, and talking to another tuktuk driver about going to see Angkor Wat the following day, the hotel tuktuk finally arrived to pick us up. When we got to the hotel, they gave us a nice cold welcome drink and showed us our room which was huge with a nice comfy bed, a balcony and a bath (Stac was just a little bit happy), it also had free breakfast, a swimming pool and free tuktuk rides, so the $22 per night, although it was over our normal budget, was a bargain.

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Kampot & Kep

We were getting picked up from the bungalows we were staying at in Otres at 10am to go to Kampot by bus. They also picked another person up from the same place but he wasn’t supposed to be leaving for another hour so we had to wait for him until he finished having a shower and packing up before the bus could ‘set off’. It soon became apparent that half of the people on the bus were coming from Kampot to here and the other half (us included) were being picked up to go to Kampot.

The bus (mini-van) was filled to the max, then went to their central office in Sihanoukville, at which point they asked us to get off and the bus immediately sped off with all of our bags in it and no explanation as to where it was going. After a couple of minutes it transpired the bus driver was going to get the tyre replaced on the bus, we weren’t very happy they had taken our bags, buy 15-20 minutes later he re-appeared, we all piled back in the tiny van and it set off. At which point, after one hour and twenty minutes since we were picked up, the bus then drove the same way back straight past where they had picked us up from earlier on.

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Otres Beach

After two days in Phnom Penh, it was time for another bus, to the south-coast of Cambodia, an area called Sihanoukville. This place is most famous for being a bit of a party area and having a beautiful island nearby called Koh Rong, the problem with that is that the tourists have supposedly taken over Koh Rong and basically ruined it.

Every single person we have spoken to since we set off who has been to Koh Rong got sick from being there, it seems to be a bit of a known thing throughout the backpacker world, this is because all the sewerage runs straight out in to the sea on the main bay so people get sick from swimming in the sea or from the questionable food there, for this reason alone, we decided to skip Koh Rong and find something a little quieter.

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