You know, I really have to go through this blog sometime and figure out how many times I’ve passed through Bangkok in the course of this journey. If I was to hazard a guess, I’d say ten times. Not bad given I’d not even set foot in Asia before March 14th 2006. Is it really almost three year?
The trip was pretty smooth. As agreed, I crawled down the stairs to reception before 7am to await the share taxi. He arrived around 15 minutes later and I was told to take one of the back seats. “Three people, back seat”. No problem. We then drove around Battambong to pick up those three people, and one more for the front seat – a businessman with a laptop who’d paid extra to be the only non-sardine other than the driver. Yeah, when they said “three”, I thought they’d meant three including me.
We made it to the border in good time, and our driver obviously knew what he was doing. If ever there was a hint of a police presence at the roadside, he’d wait for a bus to overtake then sit very close behind it. By the time the police saw the taxi, we were way past them. Not that the driver was dong anything wrong but the police in Cambodia can be somewhat… “inventive” with the offences they charge fines for.
I was dropped right at the border point at Poipet around 10:10 – much better than catching the bus which wouldn’t even leave Battambang until after midday. If I could get a seat.
Getting stamped out of Cambodia and into Thailand was a cinch. Join a queue at one side to exit Cambodia. Pass through the “no man’s land” using the left-hand path and into immigration. Grab a form sat on counter number 6, fill it in, go through the routine passport check and exit from the other side. Doddle.
Once in Aranyaprathet, a short walk leads to a sign telling all tourists and foreigners to turn right. Within 20m of this point, I’d already has one person approach me with an offer of a bus ticket to Bangkok. As it worked out, it was a good deal. 300 baht, double decker, air-con, express (4 hours), free water and leaving soon. As a bonus, it would stop opposite Hualamphong saving me getting there from Mo Chit.
There are cheaper, indirect, buses from the station in town but by the time I’d have paid for a motorcycle to get there it simply wouldn’t have been worth it. There is also a train for around 70 baht, but it’s 6 hours and there are only two a day. If you’re looking, the company is the first on the left after you pass the baggage check area.
As an aside, the toasties from the sandwich stand aren’t bad (and are cheap) and the large bank on the corner does a good exchange rate.
A little over four hours later – just after 3pm, and I was disembarking at the central train station. As the advance ticket office closes at 4pm and certain routes book up early, I had to be here to ensure I could organise my ticket for the first leg to Kuala Lumpur so I knew I’d be able to get down there once I got back from Myanmar.
The helpful staff at the information desk escorted me to the right queue and ensured I booked the ticket correctly. 1120 baht gets me from Bangkok to Butterworth, overnight in an air-con bunk with meals (I think – I’ll check that!). For 90 baht more you can have a lower bunk which I think just gives you a little more space.
All sorted, I got the MRT to Silom and walked down the road. Lunch in McDs and then into the Duke of Wellington to use the free wi-fi. I’m sat here now, typing this up. On my 2-and-a-half’th Tiger and with some very good potato skins with cheese and bacon in my belly. Frankly, I’m stuffed. The “free” wi-fi has cost me about a tenner, but I’ve caught up on a lot and the live music’s superb.
And with that, I shall sign off. I’m intending to catch the 10pm-ish airport express. I’ll sleep at the airport itself as my check-in is at 5:15am. The first bus from Bangkok leaves at 5am so there’s no point in even trying to catch that.
There may be a delay in posts as I gather that the internet in Myanmar is not that good. Normal posting will be resumed once I get to Kuala Lumpur around the 24th or 25th!