30 Days in Thailand
Feb 22, 2004
I had planned on only one week in Thailand. Getting my laptop fixed and then returning to Cambodia. Somehow it turned into a month. The time passed very quickly and little of excitement happened.
The laptop proved to be unrepairable. That is to say, replacing the motherboard was as expensive as buying a new laptop, so I bought a new one. I spent the first week back in Thailand buying the replacement laptop and re-installing all my software.
The second week disappeared in a haze of drinking in Bangkok. I only barely managed to escape Bangkok, so that I could have my birthday on a beach.
My birthday was spent dancing to hip-hop music from the ghettos of America, with English blondes, on a beach in Asia. Not quite what I imagined what my life would be at the responsible and mature age of 33.
The beach of choice was Ko Chang near the Cambodian border. The beach was boring, but hard to leave. It was a lovely beach and I made some good friends there. I settled into a rhythm of working on the website during the heat of mid-day and then swimming every afternoon. Beaches are good at sucking away motivation. I didn't manage to escape until my Thai visa expired.
And that is how I wasted away a full month in Thailand.
On to Cambodia
I'd been warned about this border, the Southern border between Thailand and Cambodia. There are many rumors of mysterious 'extra' charges when purchasing a visa. I walk into the visa office and a French man is yelling at the immigration officer behind the desk.
I eavesdrop on the conversation and have mixed thoughts about it. I'd heard the warnings, but my intuition tells me that the Frenchman is probably just a jerk and getting what he deserves. The Frenchman manages to get his visa and leaves.
I take his seat and am happy to discover that the visa was actually 100 baht ($2.50) cheaper than what the guidebook said. The immigration officer seems like a nice guy. He is laughing with his friends (as Cambodians do all the time) and I smile and laugh back (as I do all the time). The immigration officer gives me a momentary strange look and then smiles.
We start chatting. He tells me that the guy in the white t-shirt, counting the money, is his cook. So I ask what they're having for lunch. He then invites me to join them for lunch. Where else in the world can you get a free duck curry with your entry visa?
I'm led into the back room of the visa office. A family lives here. Two kids and two women are hanging out. The cook serves a very tasty duck curry with rice. Eating with 5 people staring at you is always a challenge. I feel self-conscious every time I pick a duck bone out of my teeth. But the crowd laughs at me and I laugh back - it's good fun. Full and happy, I thank them twice for lunch, then move on to the next office to get my passport stamped.
This is what I like about traveling - the unexpected! 15 minutes in Cambodia and I've already had a more interesting adventure than I had in a full month in Thailand.
...on to Laos, also ?
I'm not going to make it back to Laos this trip.
I traveled through Laos for a month back in 2001. Laos was beautiful and relaxing, but I prefer Cambodia. Cambodia is much more exciting - you never know what's going to happen.
EJ - Mar 09, 2004
Very funny. Are you sure you ate duck instead of mouse?
I'm sure that it was duck. Duck has a very distinctive (and very good) taste to it.
Though, one day at the landmine museum the kids caught some mice and they were cooked up for lunch. I was absent that day.