Thursday, May 7, 2009

Day 4 - Travelogues - Siem Reap to Thailand...errr not!

Since we found out the previous day that we couldn't travel to Laos coz of the visa issue (they don't give visa on arrival to 13 countries of which India is one ) we had two options.. 1. was to go back to Saigon and then go to Hanoi and then travel downwards back to Saigon (seemed boring when we had another option) 2. goto poipet (cambodia-thailand border), then go onto thailand... bangkok by bus and then fly to hanoi from bangkok... the air ticket was about $95 cheaper than the $100 we'd have paid from Laos to Hanoi!
so we chose option 2 and took a crappy bus to Bangkok from a crappy agency right as soon as you enter the market area...he fleeced us.. told us we'd be in an ac bus and that we'd get visa on arrival... so we reach poipet which is on the cambodian border and visa issues dint let us enter thailand!!!!!!! frustrated onward again!!!!! apparently 40 countries only are allowed visa on arrival via land routes in thailand... everybody can get visa on arrival if you fly into thailand! fortunately we hadnt booked flight tickets from bangkok to hanoi and hadn't been exited from cambodia!
so now we haggled with one of those cars that ferry goods across cambodia and vietnam and got a guy to take the 4 of us to saigon for $22 in an ac car stuffed with footwear.
while deciding this we got something to eat and were constantly surrounded by the car-ferry guys!finally we picked one and went on our way to saigon...
the journey was filled with astrological discussions and a couple of times we were stumped when we looked out of the window to see a family of three on a scooter.. father riding with one hand, the other hand holding up an IV (intra-venous) bottle, the tube went into a baby's hand cradled in the mother's lap!!! we were so shocked and i fumbled a lil too much with my camera to be able to take a picture of the family!!!!! crazyy!
we dropped off the footwear in vietnam, came back to saigon.... went straight to the station to catch a train to hanoi.. a 31 hour train journey awaited us...
we managed to get to the station on time but unlike in cambodia where dollars are accepted even by street vendors, the vietnamese need dongs... we were out of dongs and dint even have enough to buy tickets to hanoi! finally we exchanged some currency with the ticket agent obviously at a lower rate (these deman-supply markets and their irritating logic when you're at the receiving end......arghhhhhhhh)... anyway.. it was pretty comical coz ashish had gone out to exchange money and paid a local to take him around to money exchanges but all of them were shut.. it was 10 PM i think.. so I'm waiting impatiently outside the station for ashish to show up coz we had a train to catch... and the only reason we hadn't bought tickets was coz we were worried ashish wouldnt make it!!! finally 5 minutes before boarding time ashish came back.. as soon as i saw him outside the station i ran in and screamed out to rachna (talk about theatrics) to buy tickets!
phewwwww... all of that done.. we boarded our lovely train... cute lil compartments... altho not as cute for our 6 footer friend, rachna... in fact she had to step out to collect her wits coz Vietnamese things are usually compact and she's a bit claustrophobic! She recovered and we had to haggle with a couple of locals to exchange seats coz we had been split into two compartments.. finally we settled down to some serious laughing and went off to sleep!

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