This has been an intense, crazy, long day. We woke up and tried to check out of our bungalow. The woman was so confused, she thought we were trying to check in!
We said our goodbyes and headed out. We got gas and returned the rental car, only to discover that the owner had an employee call in sick. So no one was there to accept the car, give me my deposit, and take us to the bus station. Jimmy the owner came around 9:30 apologizing. He gave me my deposit, rushed us to the bus station and helped us find the correct bus to the border. The next bus didn’t leave until 12:00pm. So we waited inside Amazon Coffee (Thailand’s version of Starbucks).
At noon we got on our bus that should take 4 hours but due to a stop for all 30 people on board it dragged out to over 5 hours. It cost us a little under $5 each. The nice part was it dropped us off directly at Friendship Market and the Border. Instead of 7km away at the bus station. We thought we would finally see some other tourists crossing the border but we were honestly the only non Asians walking around. Sierra held my hand and for the first time ever she could careless about shopping.
We speed walked with our bags on our back through the market looking for the Thailand exit immigration. Where we stood in the longest line only to be told at the widow we need to get in another line since I accidentally left our departure cards at my dads house. Thankfully I asked my dad to text me a photo of them. They crossed out the new numbers and wrote in our old ones. Back to the other widow to clear immigration. The sun was still out when we started this process and is going down fast. We then go into the building where we obtain our visa on arrival. They are $30 but the officials want 1300 baht. I insist on $30 each which is 1071 baht. Then then insist I must give them 100 baht per person. It’s pitch black out now and I just want to get on my way out of this dodgy border area. People are constantly trying to harass you on the street. Our speed walking usually looses most as they can’t keep up and talk at the same time. I pay the extra “fee” and we wait for our Visas into Cambodia. Then we walk to the Cambodian Immigration building where we fill out arrival cards and departure cards. At least this country staples them into our passports. And wait to go through Cambodian immigration.
There is supposed to be a free government shuttle from this point to the bus station. It stopped running at 4:00pm, it is now 6:30pm and dark as night out! So the “owner” of the government bus explains he’s not going to kidnap us but for $30 he’ll have his driver take us to Siem Reap, 2 hours away. He was such a smooth talker it made me nervous. So I went back to the government officials and asked them to help me find a safe taxi to Siem Reap. They find a guy who said he will for $35. At this point I was stuck and would have agreed to any amount. I was literally out of options. The only way was by taxi to either the bus station or by taxi all the way to Siem Reap. There wasn’t a single person who looked like us anywhere. So I agreed. We ended up paying $5 more and getting the same driver!
I took a photo of his license plate and quickly sent it to my dad, and posted it to Instagram and Facebook (I removed it after we were safe, in case you missed it) before my Thailand SIM card was out of network. I figured if we did get kidnapped maybe it would give my friends and family a starting point to hunt us down. I also quickly map quested directions so that if he deviated in anyway I was going to choke him out from behind no questions asked. My adrenaline was literally pumping the entire 2 hour drive. Every time Sierra nodded off I would gently nudge her. I needed her alert to assist in our attack if need be.
We finally could relax when we reached city limits and he phoned our hostel for directions. He dropped us off and I was more than happy to pay him. I wanted to do a happy dance with him. We were alive and safe at our party hostel with fellow English speakers!
We checked in and booked our tour for the morning. We got situated in our room then went to purchase a new SIM card. $4 for data, a card, and some minutes. Everything here is in US dollars. Had I known I would have brought more than 25 $1 bills. Europeans are getting 1:1 ratio. I want to set up a booth and exchange money for our trip in March! Hopefully I’ll meet someone in desperate need of USD so I can exchange my currency for Euros.
We then walk down to the night market where Sierra purchases some clothes, we get fruit smoothies, and $2 foot massages. It is 12am at this point and we have a 5 am tour tomorrow morning. So we come back and finally get to relax. I sleep for a little less than 2 hours and am now wide awake writing this. My alarm is set to go off in less than an hour and a half. But I wanted to let our loved ones know we survived our land border crossing into Cambodia.