Warning: this story contains the graphic details of a trip gone bad.
23.01.2014 - 27.01.2014 76 °F
After 3 hours on the "VIP" bus we were rudely awoken by a member of the staff how shouted at us in an angry robot voice "Get off bus, get bag, walk 500 meter, we wait for you on udda side. We wait 2 hour. No more!" He repeated this statement with his laser eyes fixed straight ahead, burning a hole through the back of the bus. My eyes trained on him as he exited and made his way to the luggage rack beneath the bus. He hastily threw open the luggage door and walked out of site.
Ana and I gave a puzzled look at one another which lasted several moments as we read eachother's mind, "Now what?".
We decided to act natural like this was exactly what we had planned, so we grabbed our backpacks and followed the herd to the first line. The palm scanner on the agent's counter lead us to assume this was the line to officially exit Cambodia. After 40 minutes of standing in the shadeless que this assumption was confirmed and reinforced with new information that before exiting Cambodia we needed obtain a Visa on Arrival from Thailand, which we could do just a few hundred meters down the block; however, we would have to join the "exit" que once again.
Determined to make it to the white sandy beaches of Thailand we pressed on down the block, trying to ignore the tick tock of the clock in the back of our minds and the thought of being stranded at the border.
When we arrived at the top of the steps we were greeted by a sea of tourists in a line snaking back and forth a dozen times, but to our good fortune the Visa on Arrival line was 6 people deep. Yes! A little luck was just what we needed. Ana handed the official her passport and waited for what should have been a quick stamp, instead he reached for his walkie talkie and made a call. The response from the official on the other end of the line was abrupt ....perhaps a relative of the angry robot the... "Cota Rica, no entry. You go to Phnom Phen fo Visa.". We were redirected out of the customs building and ushered in the direction in the bus station.
The capital of Cambodia was a seven hour bus ride in the other direction. We through our now useless "VIP" bus tickets for Bangkok in the garbage and replaced them with fresh "VIP" bus tickets for Phnom Phen. After a little damage control, a small jar of pringles and bowl of noodles we had just enough new life to keep a positive attitude for the long journey back to the capitol. With our backpacks stocked with snacks and our legs fully stretched we waited to catch our 4:00pm "VIP" bus.
Shortly after 4:20 a young man said in our direction "Phnom Phen?", Ana and I nodded in return and he said " Sorry, coming a little late. Twenty mo minutes ok?". The buses around these parts hadn't been punctual, so an extra 20-40 minutes didn't break our bearts righty away; however, after being transfered to another bus station 20 minutes away and put on a bus that looked like it was meant for the local route my spirits began to wane.
At 6:30pm the Very Inconvenient Process bus left for Phnom Phen, and at 6:45 the Khmer (Cambodian) Kareoke started on the tv screen. By 7:00 the bus had locked into it's cruising speed of about 35-40 miles per hour. The dirt roads littered with dips and swales further enforced the wisdom of never choosing a seat in the back of a big bus. Not only will the ride simulate an amusement part attraction but you're also too far from the tv screen to sing along.
After three bathroom stops in the middle of the night and 9 hours on the bus the kareoke and the lights finally turned off, we had arrived in Phnom Phen. The bus dropped us on a dark corner in the city at 3:30 am in the morning. The excitement of making if all the way back to the capitol that day had diminish with the onset of a pounding headache further reinforced by a violent bout of diarrea first thing in the morning. I was completly K.O.'d the following morning, all afternoon and into the evening, my body stuck in limbo between the shakes and lucid sleep. Ana's persistancy finally got me out of bed around 6:00pm and we searched for a doctor.
To my good fortune there was a doctor half a block down the street operating out of local pharmacy. Thirty seconds after we entered his shop he turned from the Cambodian kickboxing match on TV and asked our business. With my elbows on his desk and my head in my hands I let Ana do the talking. It was very hard to focus on the conversation unfolding infront of me. Meanwhile the thermometer revealed I had a temperature of 102 degrees. All I heard was " food poisoning...bacteria...get him on the table and pull down his pants." Moments later I was laying on a wooden bed (no matress or sheets) with my shorts half off, watching a man wearing shorts and a polo shirt with two syringes get comfortable next to me.
I have no idea what he injected into my buttox, but Ana assured me the boxes from which he drew the syringes looked official. A one hour doctor visit with two administered shots in the butt cost me a total of $7, plus the 5 days of medication I purchased was another $6. Needless to say I kept a very low profile for a day or two days as while Ana worked out the details of her Visa at the Thai Embassy. Determined to make it to the white sandy beaches of Thailand I licked my wounds and packed my bags for one more push.
There were some dark moments in the last few days, but with a good partner and a lot of help from the man stairs i'm happy to report I'm operating at about %80-90 capacity and we have finally arrived at Koh Phanang, an island in the Golf Of Thailand. I'm pretty sure we'll be spending the last of our trip in the sun before heading back to the arctic vortex in MN.
Thanks for taking a minute to check out our trip!
Be well and safe travels,