Three countries, four currencies, three days, two buses and one exploding tyre.

12 Mar

The last few days have been lots of fun but very bad for our wallets…wandering round the night markets and going out with friends seem to be unavoidable in Siem Reap, no matter how many people have got to be up at 6am to catch a bus (us) or to see the sunrise over the temples of Angkor Wat (Lauren)…

The night markets in Siem Reap are irresistible. If I had more money, arms and a house to go back to I would have definitely bought a lot more


But we were very restrained and only bought a few bits and pieces, assuring ourselves they would “come in handy at some point” (patterned scarves) or that they were “really useful” (sparkly bracelets).

We went out with Lauren and her friends Jayden and Tim to say goodbye the night before our bus to Bangkok. We ended up jumping in a tuktuk and asking the driver to take us to a karaoke bar…I was a little reluctant because the last karaoke bar we were taken to (last March) by a Cambodian was a karaoke bar/brothel/restaurant which was really not pleasant at all, but this one was awesome. You got your own private little rainbow booth for $3 per hour and songs in English, albeit it old ones.

We even got the driver involved

– he sang a song in Cambodian whilst we all got up and slow-danced (Cambodian songs usually being about heartache from what we’ve seen of their dance videos).

The next day we managed to get up for the bus and to be honest, I was looking forward to just sleeping to Thailand. But it was not to be – the bus companies had massively oversold the tickets so although we managed to clamber on the first one through some inventive and possibly underhand elbow manoeuvres, we couldn’t sit next to each other as there wasn’t enough spaces free. So I sat next to a French man with the longest legs I’d ever seen, and Craig sat next to an Israeli man who we ended up babysitting through the border, us being old hands having done it a total of once before, naturally.

There was a lot of faffing on the journey…we had to stop and “change the bus tickets” just before the border, then the border itself which took an hour or so to get through, then another change of bus (decanting us into minibuses as not everyone was going to Bangkok), then a lunch stop where yet another change of minibus would happen. We had managed to be fairly lucky about getting on the first of every bus going, so we had finished our lunch and were ready to go by the time the last of the other people who had been on the original coach were arriving. Bizarrely, we saw two people who both us made jump separately – Craig saw someone who from the back looked like a skinnier version of his best friend, Matt, who died last May, and I saw someone who was the spitting image (although a few years older) of a different Craig I knew who died in May nearly two years ago. What he was wearing, his hair, the way he smoked…scarily similar. But we were soon on the move again so quickly shook off the weird feeling.

We gathered all our stuff and tried to look ready so we could get on the first minibus to Bangkok (technically queue-jumping as we all had numbered stickers on us showing us the order). The plan worked and best of all, we were allowed to sit in the front by the driver which is right next to the air-conditioning. Win! I settled into my book and Craig napped a bit and all was well for a bit. However, the driver kept stopping at mechanics and pointing to a tyre. A couple of them gave prices he wasn’t happy with so we turned round and went back to the first one, where more air was put in the rear left tyre. We thought that was odd because if there’s a problem here, it’s usually ignored until it’s completely broken, but thought nothing of it as we were back on the highway going at the usual breakneck speed.

Until there was a huge bang – I had been reading and Craig was asleep so we weren’t sure what was going on – a very naughty word escaped from me as I realised there was a high ditch on the side of the road and it sounded like the bottom of the van had dropped out and Craig wasn’t wearing a seatbelt as there wasn’t one to wear. The driver didn’t panic thankfully and managed to get the van to a stop at the side of the road. We got out and surveyed the damage…this is what was left of the rear left tyre

The thing had exploded and ripped off, denting the van in the process and making a lot of mess. If it had been one of the front tyres I am sure we would have been done for. Craig helped the driver change the wheel but I was pretty shaky so stood at the side of the road with everyone else. I’m not sure if everyone realised what had happened (or could have) as the Italian girl’s first response was that she would now miss her connecting bus, and the two German girls didn’t even bother getting out…

But we made it here in one piece eventually. I don’t usually believe in fate or things like that but it was very strange we’d seen versions of Matt and Craig just before it happened. Weird. We were both still a bit dazed so we dumped our bags in our guesthouse on Khoa San Road and embraced the madness

We got chatting to a girl from Morocco who met a friend and took one of his fried crickets off him

…turns out she was expecting us to eat it – um no thanks – so she amused herself by arranging it in different positions on our glasses, in the ashtray, on the table…delicious. We ended up talking to three guys from Bristol which was a little awkward as it turned out that one of them was banned from the restaurant Craig used to work for in Bristol…by Craig. I left them chatting about the old days to go to bed :)

Just a short stopover in BK until we fly to Sri Lanka tomorrow morning, so I think the plan is just to get some really good hot Thai food and explore a bit before we’re off again….



2 Responses to “Three countries, four currencies, three days, two buses and one exploding tyre.”

  1. Hannah 12 March 2012 at 7:10 pm #

    keep safe! Sounds like a scary experience, v.glad you and craig came through in one piece :). Been watching a documentary “House of the Future” where a food futurologist (i think she might have made that word up) was trying to convince everyone that in the future we will all be eating bugs – maybe you should get the practise in now!

    Can’t believe Craig has managed to run into people he banned, small world!

    • toaustraliathelongway 13 March 2012 at 10:49 am #

      Although it doesn’t sound like it, we are trying! Well it makes sense I suppose as they’re everywhere here but couldn’t bring myself to do it :)

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