I will admit there were times during my journey through Vietnam and Laos when I felt tired of riding a motorbike: the pain sitting in the same position for hours, the exposure to the elements, the constant concentration. When I left the motorbike in the care of the travel agent and booked my tickets, I thought it would be nice to take a bus for a change, just sit back, listen to some music and relax. By now I know that that’s generally not the case when taking a bus here, it’s bound to take at least one or two hours longer than advertised, you never know how many times you have to transfer, and the buses themselves are old and rattling with bad seats and asthmatic aircon. After just three weeks in those conditions I really miss my bike; save for riding through a thunder shower in the dark, it’s really not so bad. Well, today was an exception to the standard south east Asia bus trip. After a short ride in a minibus I transfered to some kind of luxury tourist bus from Thailand. Sure, the journey took a few hours longer than expected but I didn’t have to transfer, the seats were nice, the aircon was working and it was even quiet enough to listen to some podcasts. So, here I am, after a surprisingly relaxing bus journey, in Bangkok.
All in all I’ve done six border crossings between Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia and it’s always been more or less empty, perhaps ten people or so in line. The border crossing with Thaliand however was super busy, with several bus loads of tourists arriving at the same time. I didn’t need to get an arrival visa, just a stamp, but still I had to queue for about 30 minutes and the whole thing took twice as long as the other border crossings. Once we were across the border, I noticed that Thailand is much more well developed than the other countries in the region, the highway is wide with several lanes and smooth asphalt, and when we stopped for a break it was at a real rest stop with an air conditioned seven eleven rather than some roadside shack. I also noticed that while the official month of mourning is over, there are still plenty of portraits of king Bhumibol Adulyadej, with black backgrounds and borders of black and white cloth, all around the city. It shows just how loved the king was.
No pictures today but a few observations to close out my stay in Cambodia.
- Cities in Cambodia are bigger and more developed than the ones in Laos but not as big as Saigon and Hanoi.
- It might be because I’ve been mostly sticking to tourists spots but it seems to me that there at more people in Cambodia who speak English than in Laos or even Vietnam