Wednesday, November 27, 2013

On The Road to Koh Chang

SWell the mini-van ride down to the Poi Pet border crossing was a breeze.  The damn thing was almost an hour late, but whatever.  I had a cozy spot in the back seat and was very comfy.
That sure changed once we got to Poi Pet.  The transport service dumped us off and pointed at immigration, a little ways off.  The line wasn't too bad.  But everyone else was bound for Bangkok and had their baggage put into a big funky cart hauled by a little old lady.  Not me!  My special Koh Chang destination allowed me to drag my heavy bag for about a fucking mile, and up a very steep flight of stairs and down.  At the end of the line I was there with all the Bangkok folks who were picking up their carted luggage!  Oi.
The Cambodia departure side wouldn't have been that bad.  A uniformed officer invited me to pay him 200 Baht for VIP clearance, but I declined.  Instead I got into the line from hell.  I had four lines to choose from and picked the one with the broken scanner/mentally challenged or deranged official.  For every one person clearing our line there were five or six moving through the other three.  This was a bit alarming and frustrating.  A very good opportunity to practice mindfulness.
Once I finally cleared it was simply a matter of dragging my suitcase about a mile down a filthy dirty road through sweltering heat with no visible signage to reassure me.  I had read about this ahead of tiime (not the luggage dragging) so I wasn't quite as freaked out as I would have been.
Eventually I made it to the Thai immigration building, clearly marked and was confronted with the stairs.  Holy fucking shit.  
At the top of the stairs was a big hallway with three incredibly long lines.  You couldn't even see the officials up at the front.  I was more careful choosing the line this time, but it didn't really matter.  There were about 45 people ahead of me, same in each line more or less.  It only took forever.  
The room was air conditioned, down to a temperature of about 85 degrees.  People were civil.  I got into a decent conversation with the Swiss backpacker in front of me.  That made time pass.  All in all it was only an hour or so in that line.
Then down the stairs and down another filthy road, with no signage.  But they'd put a little red square sticker on my chest with KC sharpied on it.  All the Thai people knew where I was supposed to go and waved me on.  
I made it just in time to climb onto the back of an oversized songtheaw with about 15 other people and all their baggage.  I had to stand on the bumper and hold on!  That took us here to this cafe where we're supposed to eat before the 4 hour ride to the ferry.  So I'm having a club soda and fried noodles with egg and vegetables.  70 baht.
Holy shit again, I'm packed into a mini van with 13 other travelers and all our bags.  A LOT of bags.  I think most of the folks are Italian, just a guess.  Off we go...a four hour ride...

Edit...okay, so I'm here.  It only took 13 hours, including waiting an hour for the ferry and the hour long ferry ride and the terrifying trip around the island.  And the exhausting dragging my suitcase in the dark down a sandy narrow little alley, past a bunch of other funky little places, then lugging it across the beach and finally arriving.
What a slog, but totally worth it, right?  I'm totally not sure.  My room is pretty hideous.  The matress feels more like a box spring.  There's no proper windows or screening, so I'm supposed to sleep under a pink mosquito net I guess.  Easy to feel a bit disouraged.  But this place got absolute rave reviews and I'm steps away from the beach, so we'll see what tomorrow brings.  It may be paradise or I may have to look for better digs. 
At least there's good wifi...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a great writer you are!! Hope you're enjoying your holiday.. :D