Thursday, January 16, 2014

Cambodia Trip 1.7b

As I traveled in the cramped minibus through Banteay Meanchey province, I could see the vastness of the flooding that had characterized my trip since reaching Surin a week before. As I looked out upon what first appreared like huge lakes, I realized there were rice stalks under this water, trying to breathe.

Poipet was pretty much as I expected it; populated and nondescript. After I got out of the minivan, I called Thip one last time using the Cambodian sim card one last time.

Queues getting out of Cambodia were predictably long, but checking into Thailand was a breeze. I suppose that was because the majority of noontime border crossers had already preceeded me in a rush and the bow wave had passed.

I stamped into Thailand on another 90-day travel pass and, well away from where most people were lining up for transportation to places like Bangkok and Pattaya, I got a tuk-tuk driver down the street to give me a ride to the Aranyaprathet bus station. I was back in Thailand!

I waited an hour or so for the bus to Khorat (Nakon Ratchasima). In Khorat, I switched buses to Khon Kaen. En route, night set in and by the time I got to Khon Kaen (the big provincial center just south of my province of Non Bua Lamphu), there wasn’t another bus scheduled for Nong Bua until dawn.

BTW, on the Khorat to Khon Kaen bus, toward the end, quite a few college girls got on the bus en route to school, from their various family villages. There must have been a holiday or school break, as they all seemed about the same age and the same college girl look. One girl was one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen.

Soon after arriving at the Khon Kaen bawkashaw, local taxi drivers tried to get me to employ them for a special one-person ride to Nong Bua. They began the bidding at 1200 THB (around $38 USD) and forty-five minutes later hit their bottom bid of 500 baht. The regular bus would cost me as much as 90 THB, so I passed on the taxi and the drivers could not believe it. I guess they were used to Falang paying extra to where they wanted to go as quickly as they could get there. To be frank, part of the issue with me was safety. That’s a long road between Khon Kaen and Nong Bua and I didn’t know any of these taxi drivers, though they all knew each other and seemed like good guys. Thip later confirmed that I had done the right thing by declining their offers.

I stretched out on the bus station’s wooden benches. Again, the taxi drivers couldn’t believe this crazy Falang; sleeping in the bawkawsaw just like a Khon Thai!

I was lucky, actually, because I have yet to see another bus station in Southeast Asia with such a good seating arrangement where you can stretch out and catch a nap.

At dawn, I got the bus to Nong Bua, then grabbed a sawngthaew and called Thip. She was waiting for me where our village road accesses Highway 210, and then drove me home on her motosai.

Another great trip had ended.


Anonymous said...

Good Day Malc

Welcome home ! One thing........ The next time you go anywhere, please let me help with your T-shirt selection. The ones you are wearing in the pictures are sooo ........... Taaaaacky !!

Yur Pal Lee Baby.

PS. Don`t forget now, next time you`re in Laos, my Silk Shawl for when you return to The Hill. We will barter for some of my outstanding Home Grown.

PPS. No pink or purple colors if you don`t mind.

Malcolm Gault-Williams said...

A long time friend/brother of mine said I look like I came off the set of Star Trek, complete with tri-corder... Thanks for the reminder about the kroma and clarification on color... Looking forward to that Home Grown!