Posts tagged ‘Ko Kong’

Phnom Penh – Ko Kong – Bangkok

On Tuesday we left Phnom Penh. We took a tuk-tuk to the highway, about 14 kilometers from the center of the city (a kilometer or 2 past the airport). We began to attract a crowd as soon as we got off. Our “no” to the usual question “bus?” resulted in much perplexity among the moto taxi drivers who crowded around us. They may have been trying to help us but their presence was not conducive to hitching.

A young woman on a moto showed up and asked us if we needed help in good English. No we explained but could you ask this crowd of men to disperse? Her reaction to hitchhiking in Cambodia was typical. A friendly but negative “You can do it in your country but people don’t do that here, it won’t work, people won’t understand.” One foreigner said to us when he heard that we were going to hitchhike: “You’re just being rude. Khmers pay for everything, even the poorest ones.” Afterward he admitted that he too had tried to hitchhike in Cambodia whilst unsuccessfully because only the mini-van taxis stopped for him.

Hitchhiking from Phnom Penh to Kampong Cham and to Phnom Penh from Sihanoukville with 4 people was not really a problem. Dmitry has hitchhiked all the way from Moscow and has been relying on this method since the beginning. Our Ukrainian friends are hitchhiking back to Ukraine. And so we decided that rather than wake up very early in the mornign and catch the bus to Ko Kong – we’d rather wake up later, eat breakfast calmly (we’ve been buying fresh bread, butter and fruit and taking plates and utensils from the guesthouse) and have time to say goodbye to my friends. By noon we were ready to go.

The trip to Ko Kong takes about 6 hours by bus. And 6 hours is how long it took us to get there by hitchhiking. (The busses travel at a slower speed than cars do) Beyond freeing ourselves from the contraints of the bus schedule, hitchhiking also frees my ass from the confines of the bus seat and the cold stale dirty air. One of my favorite things (if experience can be classified as such) is the feeling of wind pushing against my bod. This is why i love motorcycles so much and loathe tuk-tuks. If i ever own a car of my choice, it will be a convertible.

Most of the cars that pick us up are small trucks or vans with space in the back or on the roof. If it’s not too dusty, these are the best seats in car.

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I think Ko Kong is the most beautiful province in Cambodia…

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At noon on Wednsday we checked out of Cambodia. Between the Khmer and Thai borders there is a space of about 50 meters where there is just beach. We dropped our bags on the sand and went swimming. Dmitry joked that we were going to be shot. But no one cared =)

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We made it to Bangkok by the end of the day. We caught our last ride in Chanthaburi. It was a professional Thai man on his way to Bangkok and we had a lively conversation on the way about politics, economy and travel. In Bangkok we ate together before he left us.

No we are staying on Kousann Rd, the most touristic place in Bangkok. I’ve never stayed here before because last time i was here i couchsurfed. There are 3 vegetarian restaurants within 100 meters of my guesthouse and i am drinking the best banana shake in the world as i write this…

We gave our passports to the Burmese embassy today but we still need to buy our flight tickets. We still don’t know if we can return to Thailand by land through Mae Sai or if we can skip Thailand all together and go to China through this route. I avoided asking these questions at the embassy, fearing that they’d refuse me a visa if i was too entusiastic about non-touristy routes. There is so little information avialable on travel in Burma!

March 26, 2009 at 8:45 pm 2 comments

Visa run

Woke up at 6am without an alarm clock, arrived at the bus station at 7, found some grub to eat (rice with vegetable garnish) for 25 cents. Reached Ko Kong at 1:30pm, hired a moto-taxi to take me to the border 11km away, walked into Thailand at 2pm. The Thai border town resembles an outpost, with only a small market along the main road selling household supplies, some clothes, a lot of toiletries, and packaged snacks. There is a fruit stall, half a dozen fruit vendors, a hole in the wall smoothie shop that blends sugar and concentrated flavours with ice, and one restaurant. There are two atm’s but there is no 711.
As i entered Thailand the friendly immigration official was re-teaching me the few Thai words i had known and forgotten. I told him i was returning to Cambodia in an hour and he smiled and commented on the expensive visa fee. So it’s not a secret – this corruption? Everyone knows about it.
I had lunch in the restaurant. Thai food is my favorite of all the Asian cuisines i have tried. The simple meal that was prepared for me – papaya salad and vegetable fried rice – eaten in the very basic cafeteria with the spectacular view of the Mekong was delicious. You would think, how difficult are these dishes that Lao, Vietnamese, and Khmer cooks cannot make them? You’d be surprised how easily one can render vegetables unetible by using the wrong seasoning or worse, using margarine!
After lunch, i walked through some of the shops and bought a hat with a pink flower design and a large brim. I’ve seen many Cambodian women wear hats like this one.
 
Before re-entering Cambodia i hid most of my money inside my sweater, leaving only Khmer riel and $30 in my wallet, just in case i found it necessary to show my inability to pay the high fee the immigration official might want. 
The official fate had chosen for me said (as if choosing a number at random) that the fee was 1500 baht. I told her i didn’t have any baht and was about to offer her a "tip" of $5 when she decided $30 would suffice. And so it was settled and i walked away with a business visa for $25 + $5, much better than some of my friends in Phnom Penh, who complain of overpaying by $15-20.
 
My moto driver waited for me in the hot sun. After finding a guest house to spend the night and buying my ticket to Phnom Penh for tomorrow, we drove through what was once jungle to a small waterfall. My driver, Sokaa, was only 22 and told me about himself. He’s the 4th of 8 children, gives his elderly parents half of his monthly $80 paycheck, wants to buy a faster motorbike, used to gamble, works for an NGO and drives the bike on his days off, likes being alone, likes smooth skin, feels that Cambodian girls are too interested in money and thinks that weddings are too expensive (the fee a groom has to pay the bride’s parents is about $1000 for a village girl & $3000 for a city girl). He spends about 100 baht a day (approx. $3), has no passport and therefore cannot go to Thailand without his sister who has a passport, wears white girls’ shoes from Thailand, and wants to meet me again if  he comes to Phnom Penh in the future.
I saw a sunset while we drove, mountains, and lots and lots of landscape……. It was a good day.

December 6, 2008 at 7:03 pm 2 comments


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