The journey from Koh Tao to Cambodia was so very long. I was smelly, sleep deprived, and worn out. If I was the border control, I probably wouldn’t have let me in.
I made the train from Bangkok to the border with less than two minutes to spare. The second my train from Chumpon was mostly stopped I jumped off and ran for the ticket counter. Unfortunately I did a superb job of spending my baht, as had been my intention. Therefore I was twenty baht short of my ticket, and they wouldn’t accept my credit card. I think they could see how flustered I was, because they told me to skip the atm and just get my ticket on the train. I readily agreed to this and ran to my train. It started moving almost immediately after I jumped onto the closest car. This is when it occurred to me that I still don’t have enough baht for a ticket, and there is definitely not an atm on the train. Oh well! I followed my orders. The ticket officer wasn’t quite sure what to do either, but he made a sort of ‘I’ll get back to you’ gesture and never approached me again. I spent a lot of time considering my options, as I saw it there were three. 1) not pay for a ticket. The journey was several hours and I’m not sure he even remembered about me. 2) hop off at a station and use the atm there. Only, it seemed completley random whether we stopped for five minutes or only twenty seconds. 3) ask to borrow money from another passenger and pay them back at the end of the trip. I entertained this debate for four-fifths of the trip (with the exclusion of option 1 – I’m just not that person). I finally decided on option three and asked the guy reading an English book a few seats away. He agreed to help and I promised to pay him back as soon as we reached the station. He didn’t ultimately accept the money I owed him (fair enough, it’s less than $1, and I would have done the same) and instead hurried off to the border.
Which I did too, as soon as I got money out for a tuk-tuk. On a whim I got out four hundred baht instead of just the one hundred I would need. This proved an extremely fortunate decision a few hours later. It was at the border that I noticed the passport number on my e-visa was wrong. I had checked the accuracy of my information at least five times. I know it wasn’t my fault, but why hadn’t I thought to check the finished product when they sent it? Ehhhh. I reserved myself to an extra $20 and maybe an additional hour of time for another visa, but I stood in line at immigration anyway, just to see what would happen. Standing in line I heard a ‘hey fellow Australian!’, but didn’t respond, obviously. Then again. I looked up and this totally cool hippieish couple was looking at me expectantly. I explained that I was sadly not Aussie, but we had a nice conversation anyways. I shared my visa dilemma, and they had me share my intended accomodation ($2.50 per night!) with a few British women up ahead. They all got through ahead of me, but finally it was my turn. I had decided to wait and play either the What? It’s incorrect?! Inconceivable! or the I know, I sent an email as soon as I noticed (I had…moments before…in line). Is there nothing I can do? card, depending on how things went down. As it turns out, they just don’t look that closely. Or they don’t care. Or it was my lucky day. Anyways, they fingerprinted me and I walked into Cambodia. The bus was just leaving and a uniformed man stopped it for me. My Australian and British comrades were on there and we all shared a big sigh of relief of completion. Unbeknownst to me, this would become my family for the entirety of my stay in Cambodia.
At the official transit center they had a currency exchange, but no atm. Fortunately I had exactly 300 baht (from earlier, if you recall), which is precisely how much the bus to Siem Reap cost. Once there, we divided into two tuk-tuks. Out of pure fatigue we had all decided to go to the same place for the night, despite it being a bit more expensive. Unfortunately Sue and Jake (the Aussies) had the name of the guest house and…there went their tuk-tuk. Follow that tuk-tuk! We cried passionately. Our driver wasn’t on his game, and we lost them before we even started moving. It was…a situation. There were issues of paying for the tuk-tuk, Claire and her daughters, Izzy and Milly, (the Brits) owed Sue and Jake something like 400,000 riel, we had no contact information for them, and all we knew was the word ‘blossom’. Our driver took us…somewhere. It was cityish. I ended up paying with some emergency American dollars I had brought. Which, to my utter surprise, is the main currency in Cambodia. Who knew? We found the nearest cafe and all peered into our iPhones and tablets to get our bearings. I found a Blossoming Romdoul Lodge only a ten minute walk from our location. Izzy called and asked if they had rooms available, they did, and off we went. Thankfully, while checking in we heard some familiar friendly Australian voices. Yatta! We had all made it into the country, to our intended city, and we had a place to sleep. What a great feeling that is! Now just a shower and some food and life would be perfect. Which is exactly what went down.
Our guest house was so lovely. Nice rooms, the friendliest staff, a beautiful courtyard, and good food. It even had one of the wildly popular fish ponds where you can submerge your feet and have the fish nibble off all of your dead skin. Most places charge like $2 per thirty minutes, so with all of the time I spent feeding the fish with my grubby path-worn feet, I figure I got more than my money’s worth from my room. Not that I would ever pay to put my feet in a fish aquarium, but still. We all ended up staying there for the duration of our time in Siem Reap because we were so pleased with it. Despite being worn out, after dinner Sue, Jake, and I took a stroll through the night market. The knowledge that good sleep is within grasp is ever so energizing.