We need a “vacation” to recover from this “vacation”.
Dear friends and family,
When we first came to Cambodia we came into the country on a tourist visa. We knew
that at the end of October we would have to leave in order to get it renewed. We decided
to brave the border town of Poi Pet so we could get across into Thailand and then proceed
on to Bangkok to visit some other LCMS volunteers. (We spent time with Kevin’s cousin
Sarah, who is a volunteer in Bangkok.) Poi Pet is one of the most rundown places I’ve
ever seen. The roads are terrible, there is dirt and dust everywhere, and it seems like
everyone was after us trying to take advantage of us. It is a casino town. There are 9
casinos in the town and rich people from Cambodia and Thailand come there to gamble
and take everything from the town and then leave. It is desolate. Horrible.
Anyway, Kosal helped us get bus tickets to Bangkok. They were $3 dollars to the border
and then $12 on to Bangkok. We got to the border with no problems other than the air
con on our bus being pretty much non-existent. At the border we got our passports
stamped, made it through immigration easily, but then spent an hour and a half on the
other side waiting for the next bus to arrive. We were finally on our way. We got to the
outskirts of Bangkok 4 hours later and then into the hear t of the city after another hour
and a half. Bangkok is huge! We got dropped off in the middle of an intersection and had
no idea where we were. We found a taxi and he took us to our hotel. We got there and
went right to bed, we were so exhausted.
The next day, Saturday, we bought a day pass for the sky train and went downtown to
have breakfast at… Mc Donalds! They have any fast food restaurant you can think of in
Bangkok. After that we walked around downtown for a while and did some shopping at a
world market. We bought some spices and things we needed there. Then we went to
another store called Big C, pretty much an Asian Wal-Mart. We bought a drying rack for
our dishes, some kitchen towels, and a water heater. We managed to get all that back to
our guest house and then we went out for dinner, where we were charged $16.00 for two
meals and two drinks, which weren’t really that good. We decided to get our money’s
worth out of the sky train ticket so we got on and went all the way to the end and back,
looking at the lights of Bangkok at night.
The next morning we meet the two volunteers at their place to go with them to church.
Their condos ended up being just four blocks from our guest house, which we didn’t
plan. We took a taxi with them to church. The church is in a day care center and there
were about 5 people there; some westerners and some Thais. The service was all in Thai
but there were English words written underneath so we could follow along. It was very
liturgical in that it followed the hymnal. The sermon was given in English, but it was
translated in Thai also. After that we went to have some Thai food and then went to see
the girls condos.
Around 4 we decided that we should try to find the bus station so we could get bus tickets
for the next day to get back to Battambang. We got off the sky train at the right stop and
found the station on a map, but somehow we ended up about 3 km from where we were
supposed to be, so we had to backtrack all the way back to the station. We finally found it
at 6:30, two and a half hours later, and it had closed at 6. Frustrating!!! So we had to go
back to our hotel empty handed knowing we would have to get up really early the next
morning to go get tickets.
We checked out of our hotel, which ended up being a lot more expensive than we thought
it was going to be, and went off to the station. We got there and found tickets, got on the
bus, and were off. That bus ride was ok until a little girl right next to me started throwing
up in a plastic bag. Anyway, 5 hours later we got off the bus at the border. We had to get
our visas again, this time business visas, which we assumed would be a pretty easy
process. We found an agency that issues them and we started filling out the papers. The
visas ended up being $50 each and we didn’t have enough money. Seth had to go to an
ATM where he had a very hard time getting money out because we had already taken
money out to pay for the bus tickets, the hotel, and food for the trip. I, Shannon, was
getting worried that we were going to have to stay there at the border for the night. But
finally Seth came back with enough money to cover the visas.
We got through the border and found out that there is only one tourist bus back to
Battambang and it had already left, so we would have to get a taxi back. We exchanged
out Thai Baht back into Cambodian Riel, only to find out later that we had gotten ripped
off again. Grrr. We had to pay $35 dollars for the taxi and then found out later that one of
the guys riding with us paid half what we did. Corruption! So here we were in the taxi
with our new French friend waiting for two more people to come with us so we could
leave to Battambang. We waited an hour and a half and finally they got enough people to
make it worthwhile to leave for Battambang. In the back seat there was the three of us
westerners. In the front there was a young man sitting between the window and the driver
in the driver’s seat, and then there was a family, mom, dad, and baby, in the passenger
seat. 8 people. We were trying to ignore all the safety violations that were taking place.
About a quarter of the way home we dropped off the young man and a girl and her dog
got in. So there we were… 7 people, a baby, and a dog in a Toyota Corolla. Fun, fun.
We finally got home around 8, 12 hours after leaving the hotel for the bus station in
Bangkok. It was good to be home. But now we think we need a vacation to recover from
this vacation. Good thing we “get” to go back to Phnom Penh sometime this month to
extend our business visa in to a year long business visa. Maybe that trip will be a little
less stressful and a bit more relaxing. Hopefully.
We are keeping you all in our prayers. Please keep us in yours as well.
Seth and Shannon