It’s 11 PM. We just finished exploring Koh Chang. We’ve been here for two days and we enjoyed the long white sandy beaches, snorkeled the most beautiful coral formations in Thailand, kayaked from one island to another and ate a sumptuous seafood and barbecue buffet. We are now prepared to go back to Bangkok but plans were changed when we saw an advertisement of a van going to SIEM REAP with a picture of the iconic Angkor Wat. They will leave tomorrow at 6 AM.
We can’t miss this. So we packed our still wet swimsuits and went our merry way to Cambodia unprepared.
We now call it SCAMbodia and you’ll know why.
Departure from Koh Chang
Koh Chang to Poipet, Cambodia (The border) should only take 2 hours. From Poipet, you have to go to Thai Immigration and Cambodian Immigration which both have long queues. And then from Poipet to Siem Reap, it should take you about 3 hours. So our expected time of Arrival as per the driver is at 3 PM. Cool right? Yeah, if everything runs smoothly but you have to expect the unexpected.
The van will pick you up at your hotel at the agreed time, which is 6 AM for us but they were 15 minutes late. Bummer! And we have to pick up other passengers who I think forgot that they have to leave today, so another 15 minutes of waiting.
And at last, we are back on track. I have little sleep because of the BIG gecko inside our cabin last night, and that’s another story. As I’m about to dozed off, we stopped by the tour office. I didn’t realize what was happening until I saw 2 Korean girls having a catfight with a woman in charge of the tour.
Turns out, there’s a problem with the payment. It’s the “You-told-us-this-but-why-it-became-this story.” My poor Whai who is the only person who can speak fluent Thai and English in our group became their translator. His face expressed a “don’t-be-angry-at-me-I’m-just-translating” emotion. Ending: There’s threat here and there and the Korean girls were forced to pay the agreed amount, of which they threw at the lady’s face. So another round 2 of catfight being Whai as the referee and we’re off to go.
This time, I can’t sleep. Everyone’s talking about how much they paid and it turned out that all of us paid a different amount. We paid 550 THB per person, others paid 600, and some paid 650 THB.
Because of the chaos, we missed our schedule for the ferry and we have to wait an hour for the next schedule. Sigh. I’m now feeling dizzy. I have anemia and it’s triggered by lack of sleep and fatigue.
At the Cambodian Border
Before reaching the border, we waited at a restaurant where they asked us to fill in a form for immigration purposes. This was where they photocopy our passport and check the visa of countries who need it. I like this tour company because they really took care of us. They gave us ID’s and stickers as a sign that we are part of this tour. He spoke English and he gave us instructions. I’m from the Philippines and I don’t need a visa to Cambodia, but the immigration asked me for 200 BAHT, turned out this is a normal corrupt practice TSK TSK.
After filling out all the forms, we have to go to the Thailand Immigration first. We rode a big Tuktuk. They tried to fill in as many people as possible and boys ended up standing and almost hanging outside and girls are all cramped inside with everyone’s luggage. It’s a 5-minute ride to the Thai Immigration.
It’s a VERY long queue. It took me an hour to get that precious passport stamp. The guide will be waiting for you outside and unfortunately, we have to wait for the bus to be full and so we waited for the others. While waiting, we got our Cambodian Simcard for $5 and this Simcard saved our asses.
When the bus is ready to go, they brought us to CAMBODIAN IMMIGRATION of which is another hour of falling in line. And as we got out, we took this selfie as a reminder that we survived this journey.
The bus will then take you to the POIPET BUS STAND. This is farewell to the tour company. You are on your own now. Well, that’s what we thought the agreement was.
POIPET TO SIEM REAP
We planned to take the Government bus that will take us to Poipet for $3. It’s almost 5 PM now and we know we will arrive at night. The next bus to Poipet will arrive in the next 1 – 2 hours which worried us because we know the streets of Cambodia are not safe. While waiting, taxi drivers will try to sweet talk you with a promise of a fast and safe ride for $100. Uhm, no thanks.
At the Bus Station, the two Korean girls were waiting with us. There’s a guy who looked so angry and he told us that he is from the tour company that brought us here and we need to ride the van. He got our ID’s and angrily asked us to hurry. And so we did hurry.
Our driver was a young guy who speaks little English but pretended he doesn’t. The Korean girls were talking to him and the driver said that this van is free.
What? Free? This alarmed me and Whai as we know there’s no such agreement. So we asked again and he really said it’s free. At this point, I’m already imagining different scenarios that maybe we are being kidnapped or he is a thief.
Luckily, we bought a simcard. Unluckily, I dialed our hotel’s number multiple times but there were no answers. I just searched for police numbers etc and saved it, ready to dial it anytime. But so far so good. The ride had been smooth. We kept on checking our map afford use generators.
Atlas, we saw the sign board of our hotel. We can’t seem to find the entrance so we asked a nearby restaurant. And to our horror, he told us that this hotel was closed 3 months ago. It’s 9PM, we are very tired and obviously scammed by Agoda.
We booked Arboretum Guesthouse via Agoda. Apparently, they have two locations which were not cleared out by Agoda. Agoda refunded our money but the hassle we encountered was priceless.
Few minutes of walking and we found a decent looking hotel with swimming pool, and we liked it. We paid $14 including breakfast for a double room. They have a generator so you will be fine. The name is Tanei Guesthouse and I recommend this hotel.
And that’s how our day went, traveling from Koh Chang to Siem Reap by land was very exhausting considering what we’ve encountered.
Koh Chang to Siem Reap: 550 THB
Total Cost: 550 THB