Amazing (G)Race

Bangkok Travel Blog

 › entry 8 of 19 › view all entries

We plan to head from Laos into Cambodia and decide to take the train overnight back to Bangkok from where we can catch another train to the border.  On the Cambodian side it should be possible to find a car to take us to Siem Reap the town for Angkor Wat.  Planning ahead I email Dean, a friend from Melbourne, who is living with his family in Phenom Penh, to see if we can catch up with him or perhaps stay for a night or two when we arrive in about a week.  He replies that we are welcome to stay up to the 25th but after that he is away on business and from 29th they have guests.  On our current plan we will reach Phenom Penh around the 28th which doesn't fit too well.

We book the train to Bangkok and consider what we should do.  To slightly complicate matters we have e-visas for Cambodia which are not valid at all border posts and the visa declares a specific crossing point.  I'm not sure quite how important this and we can, in theory, change this on-line if we decide to change our travel plans.   With this in mind we board the sleeper train at Nong Khai and next morning find ourselves in an episode of the Amazing Race.

About 5:50am I wake after a restless nights sleep.  Next time I will pay the extra for a/c and the bottom berths are definitely better, mainly because they are darker; they don't dim the lights in the carriage at night making the upper berth very bright.  The train is scheduled into Bangkok at 7:30 though based on our previous train journeys I am expecting it to arrive late between 9 and 10am.  I have pre-ordered morning coffee and this arrives as is good.  After a while I notice that the train has been stationary for 20 minutes and we are in a station.  We hear a rumour that there has been an accident ahead and that we will be delayed.  A Thai guy in one of the neighbouring berths tells us that the train will stay here until 11am and as we are 3 stations from Bangkok he is taking a taxi.  A French couple and a German guy decide to go with him.  I go on to the platform to see if I can find out some more information or at least a better idea of how close we are to Bangkok.  Three scheduled stops would put us a fair distance out of the city but the surrounding area looks like it might be the northern outskirts of the city.  The train conductor tells me that we will be here until 7am which doesn't sound too bad so I decide to wait and see, but I wake Julie in case we need to move.

Around 6:30am a local train pulls into the station heading south and passengers from our train start moving on to the new train.  I ask the carriage attendant and he gestures for us to do the same.  Quickly we take our packs, walk across the tracks and climb onto the train.  It is quickly filling up but we each mange to find a seat.  After another 15 minutes we head off, leaving the sleeper train behind in the station.  There is clearly some sort of problem but we never find out what.  Our new train plods along, stopping often but steadily taking us in the right direction.  At one point we stop in another station and most passengers jump trains again.  This time I decide to stay put, the other train leaves first but we are not far behind and eventually roll in to Bangkok a little after 10:30.

Tired after our long journey we grab breakfast at the station and discuss our next move.  My preference is to fly to Phenom Penh, but we need to check if there is a flight today and how much this will cost.  The alternative is to take a train that leaves at 1pm.  We find an internet cafe; Air Asia has a flight at 3pm but it is not possible to book this on line.  I call the Air Asia call centre and they confirm that there are plenty of seats on the flight and the cost is reasonable (about $100) but that we will need to purchase these at the airport 2 hours before departure.  It's now almost 12 so we need to hurry, but decide to take the chance, negotiate a taxi to the airport and at the sales counter buy 2 tickets for the next flight to Phenom Penh.

Air Asia has a 15kg baggage allowance so we change and repack our bags to minimise the weight of the checked-in bags and just manage to creep inside the limit.  Next we email Dean to tell him we are arriving at 4pm today, hoping he will get this in time and go online to the Cambodian e-visa site and change our arrival point.  We are in luick, within 10 minutes Dean calls me back and tells us he will send his driver to meet us at the airport. 

After all the excitement so far today the flight is a welcome chance to relax. At Phenom Penh arrival formalities are straightforward and we are met by Deano who takes us in the the city.  We meet Dean at his office and then head out to the Cathouse bar for Friday drinks.  After a beer or six we head back to Dean's house picking up a take-away curry on the way.  About midnight we finally crawl into bed.  What a day!

skippyed says:
Thats cheap for a flight to Cambodia, when I was in Bangkok and wanted to go to Cambodia I couldn't get a flight for under 300 bucks! times have changed I guess!
Posted on: Apr 05, 2008
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