So we have been relying on the no plan plan recently, and the same went for when we arrived in Bangkok (which is perhaps the one place we should have planned!) After exiting the bus, stretching our legs, and me getting a piggyback to the nearest sidewalk to retrieve my tennis shoes from my bag after my flip flop experience, we were in search of some answers. Some of our questions were: where should we stay tonight, how do we get there, how do we find a Cambodia 'Angkor Wat' tour, and where the heck is the hospital so we can make sure Whitney gets her fourth rabies shot and doesn't rampage the city? All very legit questions, and all were answered by one taxi driver.
Our conclusion was a 100 baht taxi ride to a tourist center and a drop at whatever hotel they recommended. Easy enough right? Well after talking with one man for thirty minutes we booked a hotel, our Cambodia tour, and even haggled our way of being swung by the hospital on the way. Well this is where scam 1 falls in. I must admit we were in the tourist place and the hospital for a bit but once we were dropped off the driver wanted 1300 baht. After refusing we settled on 800 baht. Acceptable.
Now entering our hotel we were told we had wifi which is a must so I can write and post up here. While requesting the password we were told it cost 50 baht. Scam 2. Not taking no for an answer we calmly but promptly were given the password and then entered our room for the night. Complete with white walls, bars on the windows, and rock hard beds they should have just locked us in and called us prisoners. Good thing we were leaving bright and early in the morning.
After getting rushed out the door and into the van the driver lolly gagged for a good five minutes before we set off (which seems to happen a lot.) We drove for three hours before hitting the Cambodia border. I will just start off saying land crossings are hell. After waiting one hour in a long line in the blistering heat (twice as hot as Thailand in my opinion) we find out that was only the line to get out of Thailand. From there we had to trek across the land border and deal with another queue to enter Cambodia. Now were told because of poor roads taking a taxi was better to get in town faster, we opt for this route. Getting to the station we wait for a taxi, nothing comes, so we hop in a minivan. Arriving 2 1/2 hours later we find out from friends their big bus took the same amount of time. Drum roll please... Scam 3!
Our tour began the next morning with our guide, Saudi. We started off at the Angkor temples. The first was Bayon. This temple is famous for having faces on all of its many pinnacles. Also all around the two levels of the temples were the most amazing carvings. For both this and Angkor Wat the carvings tell a story. As far as Bayon they depicted historical events and everyday life.
From there we visited the world famous Angkor Wat. This temple is just gigantic and coincidentally enough the world's largest temple. There were tourists encasing the temple so I was getting a bit frustrated by not being able to get that postcard image, but what can you do? It was neat that I was standing at these temples that previously I had only been admiring from across the world for so long, and was also interesting to hear all of the history behind the buildings, even if I was getting jumbled Thai English. The building was built under the Hindu religion but depending of the king at the time the main religion varied. Something i found fascinating was that one of the Hindu kings didn't appreciate the newly added Buddha statues and defaced most of them.
The final temple we visited on this part of the tour was Ta Prohm. This particular temple was my favorite and in my opinion the most beautiful. The ruins of Ta Prohm are left in mostly the same condition as they were found. The jungle and strangle trees are growing around and in between the buildings and rubble of the ancient temple and create almost an erie atmosphere. Ta Prohm became popular when Angelina Jolie's movie 'Tomb Raider' was filmed there, and I could positively see why they thought it would be fitting scenery.
Us being ridiculously tired from walking around temples all day.
Now one thing I can't forget to mention is that Cambodians will try to sell you anything and everything. It's unlike anything I have ever seen before. I have seen the bartering and market stall owners begging you to buy from them and that whole stick, but I haven't seen the children getting into the action. Leaving each temple we were harassed by children aging from 4- 10 wanting to buy items from them. And it doesn't end there, there is no taking NO for an answer they will grab you, sell their pouty eyes and literally follow you back to your car and sit on your lap if you allowed it. We gave in a couple times and I bought five bracelets for 100 baht($3) but then she turned around and sold Whitney five for a one dollar bill!! Scam 4...taken by a little girl. It is actually sad that their parents train them to do this. When asked why and told they should go to school they answer they can make better money begging on the streets.
From here we stopped to talk about some of Cambodia's recent history and the meaning behind 'The Killing Fields. This event happened between 1975-1979 right after the Cambodian civil war. These fields are beyond numerous and where an amazing number were killed during the Khmer Rouge reign. Basically the Khmer Rouge was capturing and torturing anyone suspected of being affiliated with the former government. And unfortunately for the Cambodian population this was a majority of their professionals and intellectuals: professors, doctors, monks, and all political leaders. If you can imagine Pol Pot has been described at ' the Hitler of Cambodia.' The executions were things most of us could never think of, and the total death is argued but somewhere in the early millions.
Our last stop of the tour was to board a floating village. Not knowing what to expect we hopped onto a small boat to coast down the river until it opened up to a large lake area. Now one surprise I had was turning around to see a small girl at the back of the boat. The curious thing about it is we didn't have her on the boat to begin with. She had jumped from her small motor powered canoe onto the boat to sell us overpriced drinks. Being highly impressed with her leap the whole boat enjoyed a cold beverage before she waved to her mother and was gone in a snap.
When entering the lake I was surprised to see exactly what it sounded like. But I never imagined it would actually be the size of a small village. Literally these people were living on this lake, houses, schools, markets, and I'm only assuming toilets were all there in that area. We stopped at a small market and you would never guess but.... We were surrounded by little kids asking for more things! This time they were luring tourists in being cute and young while holding a snake, something obviously we have to fall victim to.
I asked and apparently most of the people occupying the village don't have permission to live on land and this is their only option. Once they obtain a proper ID card of some sorts I believe that option opens up to them.
Being tired out from days of sweating and learning far more than our brains can handle we were pumped about getting back into Thailand to rest for a bit. But as the story is added up you can probably guess this doesn't happen and the day does not go smoothly at all. Being rushed out thirty minutes before we were told the van was arriving made us all frustrated and on edge. Expecting to mayyybee get to the border fast was far to much to ask as well. For the couple days of being in Cambodia I think I have met whoever our bus driver's family is multiple times. And this is because they stop an annoying amount of times for gas and breaks that just so happen to be next to a market or shop that they know everyone. By the time we reach Thailand were all unhappy campers and barley talking to each other with being so miserable.
Finally making it back to Bangkok after about eight hotels we find one that offers what we are looking for and head to the night market for a quick stroll. The next morning you'll never guess what I'm missing...my wallet! Either scam 5 or my forgetful memory. I'm not going to say I was for sure pickpocketed by I will say we were on Koh San Road and it's a number one spot for this sort of thing to happen. Losing my debit, credit, insurance card and license this turns out to be a proper nightmare. On the upside though these are all things that can be replaced and are almost at this point ready to be mailed to Australia.
Our last day we toured Bangkok and were you guessed it scammed again number six to be exact. Keeping this story short we hired tuk tuk to take us around to some major spots. We agreed to go to some tourist tux stores and jewelry stores because if we did our driver received a coupon for gas. After only visiting one of our stops and three of theirs they dropped us at a temple and put the pedal to the medal saying they had to go. Over it. I'm so happy to move onto Chiang Mai its ridiculous, and now so happy to be done writing this blog! It's taken me forever, hallelujah!
Tricks are for kids