scams and smiles

We left our hostel in Siem Reap, Cambodia at exactly 7:00 am on Monday morning. It was a little annoying because our last bus had been an hour late. We thought we had more time, since the bus was SUPPOSED to come at 7…so surely it wouldn’t, right? Well, I bolted my omelet in about 5.6 seconds and off we went. I was so excited to get to Thailand, it didn’t really matter. We stuffed our toast in our pockets and made tracks. 14 hours later, I was finally laying in my bed in Bangkok wondering what the heck had just happened….

The day started well…like I said, the bus was on time for once. After an hour of driving around to different hostels picking up passengers, we were on the road. It took us about four hours to get to the border in between frequent (and unnecessary?) pit stops, cows in the road, and the general Cambodian traffic free-for-all. Upon arriving at the border, we were unceremoniously dumped off our bus. Our bags were thrust into our arms, a mysterious white sticker was slapped on our shoulders unexplained, and we were pointed toward visa control. Ok. We were a tad bit confused but optimistic. We could handle this. It turns out the Thai border control really isn’t the snappiest, and I emerged the other side sweating and sore after more than one long wait in line. I had my visa, though, stamped and ready to go! Now just to find our bus again….

We wandered for a while, walked a little more, crossed the official border, and emerged into a tired little Thai border town. We were then approached by a Thai man asking the typical questions: where you going? lady? where you going? We almost blew him off, but thankfully he spotted the mysterious white stickers on our shoulders. The bus company hadn’t explained that those stickers were our ticket for the second bus! Thank goodness we didn’t lose them. We were herded under a tent with lots of other travelers with white and red stickers to wait for our second bus.

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And wait…
and wait…
and wait, we did.

We waited under that tent, in the intense Thai heat, for four hours.

Unable to stand it anymore, Alicia and I went to use the bathroom and exchange money around the 3.5 hr mark. We were told that the bus wouldn’t be there for another 45 minutes, so we had plenty of time. HA. Not so. Our peeing was interrupted by a frantic Marrisa telling us that we HAD TO GO, the bus was there, and they were leaving without us. By the time we made it back to the tent, it was too late. The second bus was gone. All I could think was….you’ve got to be sh***ing me. There were other expletives used. The guy in charge told us that, though his company was done for the day, he could get us on a bus with another company for $20. It’s your only option, he said. We grudgingly handed over our $20, only to be led down the road to a gas station of sorts where we discovered that everyone else who’d been under the tent with us had been shepherded there as well. They hadn’t actually left! The company had just wanted to make it seem like they’d left in order to get us to pay more for another ticket. We never did see that $20 again, but our minibus finally arrived.

At least we were on the road again, so we tried to stay positive. Our optimism was strained to the limits, though, by the lack of air-conditioning, and the sardine-packing qualities of our space in the van. Let’s just say it was not the most comfortable six hours of my life. I don’t think my rear end will ever really be the same.

We arrived in the center of Bangkok hot, dirty, sweaty beyond belief, tired, and sick of being taken advantage of. We made it, though! Getting to Bangkok after a month in Cambodia was like falling through the looking glass. Everything was bigger, faster, and more western than our comparatively sleepy, poor, simple Cambodia. I missed it immediately, but I’m so excited to get to experience the adventure that is Thailand. And we only overpaid for the taxi to our hostel by about 70 B ($2.10). Sigh. We’ll get the hang of it.

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2 thoughts on “scams and smiles

  1. Just loving hearing about your “Adventures”!!! I remain so proud of you for remaining calm (in the long run). I hope you are able to relax and enjoy now that you have arrived!

  2. Hi Emi! It’s so nice to hear about your exciting experiences. You “GO” girl! You’re destined for great things. So proud of you.
    Love and hugs always, Patty K (the little Watertown “hick”).

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