One week ago I continued my journey, but before I could take the train in Aranyaprathet I needed to cross the border. Hence, I walked backed to the train station, which was empty today, as the train back to PP already left one hour earlier, and then walked a few hundred metres along the track until the large roundabout. All the railway station premises is fenced with barbed wire, in order for the preparation of the cross border trains. But this didn’t prevent the locals from cutting holes into it, for a shortcut crossing of the tracks. I just followed the tracks, which lead underneath a large hotel and then to a market on the tracks and finally to the border bridge. But this was for sure fenced on the Thai side and obviously, this time, nobody went there. Hence, I was suddenly on the bridge for the pedestrians until I realised that I still hadn’t stamped my passport…and I didn’t want to give it a try without. So in essence, I needed to walk back for about 200 metres until I found the building with the border police. After a short queuing I was stamped and, surprisingly, this time without stamping fee. Maybe, they got a visit today from that anti-corruption authority. Well OK, everything fine. Let’s go to Thailand. Once I arrived, I got my immigration card and went upstairs…and queued up…for almost 90! minutes. Never had such a border crossing ever before. This seems to be the busiest border crossing to Thailand as lots of tourists are crossing here…and sometimes only one officer was in charge, as the others had to take a break. But finally I entered Thailand without any issue.
Now I left finally Cambodia. It is further developed than Laos but far less than Vietnam. In the tourist towns you can easily find anything you want Sex, Drugs and
Rock’n’Roll Party. And this in huge amounts and for a very cheap price, including possible fines. That’s for one large part of travellers the main reason to come here. They just want to have fun and it has to be cheap. And as white guy, if you’ve just some dollars, you can act as an emperor here. The others are interested in Siem Reap (Pub Street 😏…and Angkor Wat). In the rural areas you see at lot logging, as long as there are still trees to log, as this seems to be the only other alternative income beside the tourism. As Cambodia is using the US$ semi-officialy as second currency, everything seems to be a bit pricey, if you’re ending up in the tourist bubble and you’re not able to get out of it. The economy, and hence the people which are still living in traditional wodden stilt houses in rural areas, still seem to suffer from the Khmer Rouge times, but also from the omnipresent corruption.
Once I crossed the border, I was a bit in a hurry, as I didn’t expected to take it that long. I just walked back to the tracks and followed them for about 6 kilometres to the railway station of Aranyaprathet, as the train stops there and not (yet) directly at the border. And I felt more save than walking along the street. After less than 90 minutes I arrived at the railway station and was able to purchase a ticket, as the whole train is 3rd class. There are two trains daily and I took the afternoon train, and still had about one hour time, until the train leaves, for lunch. The railway station was pretty nice decorated with flowers, as also all the others. The train stops at each station, so everyone can get on and off easily. Each railway crossing seem to be equipped with an electric barrier. You’ve again the feeling of a robust operation and not some kind of experimental operation as in Cambodia. Also the maximum speed is with 60 km/h almost the same, but in Thailand you feel save travel, whereas in Cambodia it’s always bumby and you’ve the fear of derailing. As the train stops in each station, the doors are always open. In Cambodia the conductress complained once the day before, when I opened it for making some pictures. As the doors are open, people smoking outside, without harming others inside. In the evening I entered finally Bangkok and arrived with about 20 minutes delay at the old (well actually not yet, but almost) railway station.