I knew today was going to be a tad stressful, Thailand was going to take another chance to take money off me. At 4:45 my alarm goes off and by 5:15 I was ready to leave the hostel. I jumped in a cab down to Hualamphong Station once again avoiding the trap that tourists fall into by telling them to put on the on the meter. Arriving at the station I have the always familiar feeling that I might of left something behind. This is a feeling that I often have and sometimes I do sometimes I don’t, it’s for me one of the horrible things about travelling, I look through my bag, wallet, passport, clothes, money… all there, time to go. I grab some water, pay the 48 THB to get down to Aranyaprathet.
The train gently meanders out, leaving the built up area of Bangkok and out through the countryside. A few hours pass by and I drift in and out of sleep while I consume the book that I am reading. Local’s get on and off the train, I interact as much as possible with the locals and sometime after twelve we pull up at the station and I prepare myself to be harangued for a tuc tuc to the border. My plan here fell apart a little bit, what I wanted to do was talk to other travellers to see if I could share a tuc tuc with them but I didn’t manage to do this, there was too much harassment going on and I put my defences up.
I jump in a tuk tuk alone and pay the 100 Baht to get to the border. After reading all I could on Seat 31 I was sort of ready for them to take me to the wrong place. We pull up at an official looking building which I had read all about. I tell the driver, “no… border”, he refuses, other people begin to harass me to get out of the tuc tuc and into the building. Feeling like I was loosing I get out of the tuc tuc, pay the driver and walk away from the building with a thai person chasing me talking to me.
“Where are you going?” he asks
“The border” I say still walking towards where I think the border is
“We give you paperwork.” he demands
“Don’t need it I say”
“Where you go after”
“Bus to Siem Reap” I tell him. This was the mistake I made, I should of said I don’t know or anything other than a destination
“I take you to bus stop” he says
“No thanks I’m fine I’ll figure it out”
“No I take you, I can help you with the bus”
“No need” I insist still walking, approaching the thing that looked like the Thai border
He continues to hassle me all the way to the border and I step into the official border. I get stamped and sent on my way, on the other side of the building Mr Harassment was waiting for me, I bypass the building that actually issues the visa as I already have one and onward to the Cambodian side.
“You want to wait in queue or speed things up?” he asks.
Trying my hardest to shake this guy or at least make him wait I wait inline. Forty minutes or so pass in the queue and I pop out the other side officially in Cambodia hoping my new friend had got bored. Nope he was there.. arse. He ushers me to the bus station that I can see and I get on, he meets me after the free bus and tries to help me with the bus ticket. I try again to tell him to go away and leave me alone, I am thoroughly fed up with this guy, the bus people tell me there is a bus at 4pm that goes to Siem Reap or I can pay more for the Mini Bus I want to get out of there as fast as possible so I take the Mini bus, knowing that it will probably stop somewhere to make me buy something somewhere but anywhere is better than dealing with Mr Annoying. The bus to Siem Reap took two hours and as I suspected we stopped at a spot where we could go to the loo for free “if we bought something”. I hit Siem Reap and get to my hostel via a tuk tuk.
I cannot tell you enough how much this constant need to be on your guard spoils places. I know all they want is my money and it’s better than wanting my blood so the odd few pounds here and there I am not that bothered but it does feel like a bit of a task to do anything and in a western environment it’s so much simpler. I am sure once I was here for a while I would get used to it if there is such a thing. Seriously folks if you are crossing the border just be super on your guard, if it does not feel right then it probably isn’t. Don’t let people put you into a position that is going to compromise you, be strong and bold.