To Cambodia

The train ticket costs 48 Baht to go almost all the way to the Cambodian border. That’s less than a quid – and this morning I managed to get on the train. Hurrah.

The train sat sin engine until around five minutes before we left when it banged into the carriages awakening all of the early morning pasasengers already on the train. The driver then sauntered up like he was in a cowboy movie and fag in mouth, hopped onto his trusty and rather noisy diesel locomotive.

I sat at the front with the monks until a conductor came up and popped a rope across that said ‘this section for Monks and disabled people’ so I moved a carriage back, to find that the seats were more airline style reclining things that lookd like they had been fabricated out of cereal packets. They were comfy though so I settled back and watched the world go by.

Bangkok trundled past for an age as we travelled beside the spanking new skytrain line all the way to near the airport. Work seems to have halted up on that so I think It’ll be a while before you can zip into town on a modern machine. We parted company at the airport and clattered across country, the wonderful scenery sliding past with paddy field upon paddy field and the cranes and farmers working the fields in the heat of the morning sun.

All in all a lovely journey, at six hours a reasonable stretch and sitting amongst the locals as they go about their daily business was a pleasure – firstly the workers then the farmers and people going home from the big city, large crates of semi- conscious fish ported from the train but no live chickens or goats as predicted, only us portly pink humans.

At Aranyaprathet, the end of the railway for now, I was asked by a friendly Tuk Tuk driver if he should take me to the boarder. I accepted and he took me to the Cambodian consulate which is a km or so from the border, my visa took me 3 minutes for 1000 Baht, which is a little over the 20$ quoted on the visa itself, but who cares if they are that efficient, now in Africa half your time is spent bribing officials at borders but that’s another story.

It was after the border that I came a little unsstuck. On passing through the border (not a very complicated business at all) I came to the roundabout straight after where the taxi’s were lined up. For some reason only my brain can figure out when asked directly, I decided that I was going to do to the bus station with a wily little bike feller who talked me into taking a cab all to myself – only $20 after all and I’d have the taxi to myself. Well why not – that is until 5 minutes later when 4 extremely smelly farm labourers hopped in. Now I’m not averse to a spot of body odour and can’t be called fussy, but this four had the smell of a months worth of hard work, not bathing along with the smell of layers of skin swetted garlic. They looked lovely though – the poor girl amongst them obviously mothering the other four whilst on a working stint in Thailand (just coming home) so I didn’t mind paying for the taxi to Siem Reap.

It didn’t end there though. After being told that we’d go direct we took a long detour to get a new set of tyres, the driver then tried to squeeze another large bloke in WITH HIM ON THE FRONT SEAT.  At this point I got out and told him in no uncertain terms that if the bloke didn’t sod off I’d hitch. Luckily he sodded off or I’d probably still be there.

And now I am in Siem Reap, a stones throw from the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat – and luckily I have found a net shop with reasonable internet access, because the internet in the hotel was so slow that it was hard to open gmail up in.

For those cyber gypsies reading this I am in ‘The Internet Cafe’ (sassy name huh) just up the road from the Happy Guesthouse where you can get a 512k line, other than that the internet seems pretty slow around abouts these parts,

tomorrow I’m off to the ruins on a bicycle, for now I’m going to find out what Cambodia food is like – and try and catch the spurs game if that’s humanly possible here.