First off, I left Sukhothai and headed to Loburi, pretty boring flat road day for 300km. Stayed at Noom Guesthouse again because I knew it was decent and cheap and the owners remembered me (and gave me a discount on a bigger room!). The guesthouse seemed busy even though the monkey festival was on last time. I thought it would have been rather quiet without the festival, but there are still monkeys roaming everywhere of course and that's what people come to see.
Next day I headed to Aranyapathet, the town next to the Cambodian border. I stayed two nights at the Market Motel to make sure I researched what I needed to do to cross over. And by the way, Motel style accommodation is great, ride up to the door and throw stuff in, no stairs! I started reading about the border crossing and about the apparent scams here. People helping you get visas for Cambodia before leaving Thailand, but not telling you the visa is available on arrival on the Cambodian side. And also on the Cambodian side the officials overcharging for visas to earn more beer money. And many other scams. I was prepared!
I headed over to the border past a lonnnnggg line of trucks waiting to cross. Just near where the road turns into the border market there are lots of touts who all rushed towards me to ask if I had a visa already (I told them yes, thanks internet advice) and then headed down the side of the trucks to get to the Thai immigration. It's not as well organised as other borders here, I wasn't exactly clear on where to go, but I just showed them the bits of paper I had for the bike and they pointed me in the right direction.
After handing over the temporary import form to one office which I think was customs, not sure, I went back out to the foreign passport line for immigration to get my passport stamped, then back out of immigration the wrong way (past the confused looks of everyone else waiting in line) to get my bike. Then I rode up to another little booth where I handed over the notice of conveyance they gave me when entering from Laos, which they then asked for my carnet, and ran off and photocopied it and I signed everything and they charged me 20baht for photocopying. Not sure what that was for, hadn't had to do that from Laos or Malaysia on the three other crossings. First unknown fee of the day.
Then I made it to Cambodia! The first thing I learnt was they drive on the right here, forgot to check that before I left!
|Welcome to the Kingdom of Cambodia!|
In the visa-on-arrival office there's a sign above the window which shows the prices, $20 for a tourist visa, no problems. I had heard that the officials like to overcharge here, asking you to pay $30 instead. So I filled in my visa form, handed that + a photo + passport + $20 to the guy at the window, and in front of him was a piece of paper which read "$20 + 100baht"... This is below the sign that shows the fee amounts. I asked what the 100baht was for but I didn't understand him, whatever, it wasn't worth $3 to protest.
I got my shiny new visa, and headed down to the immigration office, got my passport stamped, fingerprints taken, and then switched off my headlight and rode into Cambodia! But what about Customs you say? Who knows, I never saw the building, and the general advice is to just ignore it and ride in.
I got my money exchanged at some random booth on the way in which everyone was staring at me. 6000 baht came out to $194US, not too bad. I got some of the local currency as well. The next big town in I stopped to get fuel at a very quiet petrol station. All the pumps read in US$ and it came out to $19.51. I gave him $20 and told him to keep the change but then he brought me over a bottle of water! (20c worth? so he still got 30cents out of it)
It's flat in Cambodia. I only saw a couple of hills. I stopped once on the 160km ride to Siem Reap here:
|Typical side road.|
|Flat flat flat. Like the northern territory with more green.|
I got to Siem Reap and then tried to find a place to stay. I tried one that looked like it had secure parking, but it was $20/night and full, then I rode round about and stopped at the Saphir Hotel and got a clean room for $12/night (because I'm staying a week) with aircon and hot shower and fridge and TV. Not bad! Right across the road is a shop with cheap beers too! The bike is just sitting outside all locked up. No problems yet and it's been like that everywhere else. No one has touched it or stolen the fuel from the tank. I'd be more worried leaving it alone in Australia.
Cambodia is more similar to Vietnam than Thailand or Laos. Just less people. Bikes are everywhere, and they can carry everything. They can even tow trailers, but I didn't get a photo of that happening yet. Here are some others I took yesterday:
|Cambodian (or just Siem Reap) style tuk tuk.|
|Bicycles are still everywhere.|