Its been a long week of packing and goodbyes however the time came to say goodbye to Phrae! We took the overnight sleeper train to Bangkok where we spent one day shopping and picking up things we needed for our travels and the second day at Siam Park Water City. This was a brilliant day!!! It is a theme park and a water park combined and for 700baht we got entry, buffet lunch and unlimited rides! It was a good way of chilling out and letting the stress from the last few weeks dissolve!
After a very very busy day we had to get up at 4.40am to get to Bangkok train terminal and the start of our next adventure… Cambodia! The train left at 05:55 and traveled over 250km to Aranyaprathet a journey that took over 6 hours and cost 48baht! (Yes that is really just one pound!!) It was an interesting journey although not the most comfortable as the train is 3rd class and very busy as well as the open windows to allow ‘fresh’ air. We decided on the train first because of the price and secondly because we were told it had great views over looking Eastern Thailand. I am sure this is true however with the mixture of the very early morning, the busy day before and the heat I have to admit I was asleep for the majority of the way. It was not unpleasant and at 48baht you really couldn’t complain!!
Once we reached Aranyaprathet we caught a Tuk Tuk to the border for a small sum of 50 baht each (100 baht all in) and were taken to the first stage of immigration. I have read up loads on Cambodia and I am still unsure as to whether we were slightly conned here. We already had our visa’s which you can get online (and I would strongly recommend this is what you do!) and a man from the office helped us fill out our departure cards and book a taxi. You have three options here. 1- Take a bus which is very cheap however as our first stop was Battembang the buses only ran in the morning. 2- Take a share taxi. as the train came in and everyone came to this office there were many other people getting ready to cross the border, in order to make the taxi cheaper you can share one and split the cost, however no one was heading to Battembang first. Finally the 3rd option private taxi. We had (we think) no other option so decided to go ahead, the taxi cost us 1000baht each (20 pound) so around 40 pound over all.
The man took us to the Thai immigration where our visa’s were cancelled and were able to head into the Cambodia side where we had to get our arrival stamps. The whole process took around 45minutes. We were then put on the back of motorbikes and driven a couple of km to our ‘taxi’. The car was held together by masking tape and the driver had a strong bond with his horn. I.e. He would beep at EVERY single car/bike/person/cow that came near the car! This is not an exaggeration I don’t know how the horn was still working by the end!! We got our first experience of Cambodia and found that not only do they drive on the left here, but their driving is quite possibly WORSE than the Thai driving… it is mental!!!!!
We were dropped off in town around 2 hours later in the middle of an industrial part of town. The mental cab driver had dropped us miles away from the center as “City Center” was somehow translated to “City Cafe”. It is rather strange being in a place where no English or Thai is spoken and you are back to having NO idea how to communicate! We were picked up by a sort of Tuk-Tuk driver who for a dollar each (Cambodia has its own currency but prefers you to use the US Dollar) took us back to the centre and into a hotel for the night.
Here in the hotel most staff spoke excellent English…. HOWEVER once inside it was almost impossible to leave without agreeing to stay for our two nights. We were taken to a very fancy room which was $20 a night for the two of us and when we said this was too expensive it was brought down continually. Finally as we went to leave they offered $12 dollars a night for a slightly smaller room which is still massive!! As we were tired and hungry we decided just to go ahead and stay… and I will admit it is one of the nicest hotels I have stayed in for a while!!
So it is an early night tonight and then tomorrow off to explore the ‘Bamboo Railway” and the other sites Battembang has to offer!!