So, how time flies when you are on the move. The last few weeks have been, well...filled. Our trip has finally taken shape and has become it's own monster. I've seemingly been lost in the hussle and bussle and now look up two weeks later realizing that I have not told any of our adventures. So here is an update.
After several days of planning and exploring in Bangkok Athena and I left for Cambodia, officially starting our trip. Our plan was to take an early bus from Bangkok east to the border town of AyunPathet, cross the border into Cambodia into the town of Poipet and make our way to the city of Siem Reap and explore the temples of Angkor for a few days.
The first leg of the journey was an easy and comfortable drive through the Thai countryside. We were droped off by the bus in AyunPathet, a few kilometers from the border and quickly hailed a Tuk-Tuk (motorcycle pulled taxis) to take us the last few kilometers to the border. Now, it must be said that land border crossings and visas are somewhat of a mystery in SE Asia. Everyone has stories of the borders but until you experience a border crossing in Asia, you are somewhat in the dark as to how they work. The Thai-Cambodia border was, well, less than pleasurable. We were taken by our trust Tuk-Tuk to a fake Cambodian consulate which attempted to scare us into buying overpriced visas. We are proud to say that, out of a group of six, Athena and I were the only ones not to fall for the con and after some arguing left for the real border. We past through the border easily and emerged into another world on the other side. We were now in Cambodia, for real.
After some more price haggling and scene making we found a taxi to Siem Reap and watched the views of thatched huts and rice fields as they slid quickly past our car. Cambodia is a different and shocking world. Unlike Thailand, Cambodia is a blatantly impoverished country. For the first time in a long time, I was faced with the real world. It's shocking everytime.
Athena and I spent the next few days exploring the temples of Angkor and the overpriced tourist hub of Siem Reap. Exploring the temples was incredible, but I quickly began to feel the same way I do at any historical site...tired of watching thousands of people. Angkor was amazing, the people were not.
The weather was less than desirable and Siem Reap was shockingly expensive so we made plans to work our way to Vietnam.
We work early on the morning of the 20th and caught a bus to the Cambodian capital Phnom Phen. We arrived easily and found a guesthouse for the two nights we were going to spend in the city waiting for our Vietnam visas. We visted the National Museum in the afternoon of the 20th.
On the 21st we decided to explore Cambodia's more recent history by visiting the Killing Fields and the infamous Khmer Rouge prison, S-21. The two visits were very powerful and shed light on the past and present of Cambodia. The cruelty of the Khmer Rouge was disgusting and it is blatantly obvious that the scars they gave to Cambodia will never really go away.
We abruptly left the capital early in the moring with a plan to make it to the Vietnamese coastal town of Rach Gia. This day was one of the longest and most complicated days of travel I have ever had. It involved 13 hours of nonestop travel and 9 different modes of transportation including a bicycle tuk-tuk, motorbikes and boats. We had the misfortuen of falling into several different backpacker traps along the way making it incredibly demoralizing and more expensive, but we eventually made it in one peace to the town of Rach Gia. We booked tickets for the SuperDong ferry to Phu Quoc Island and fell asleep.
More updates to come...I've spent too much time on the internet....sorry for bad sentences and spelling.