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IN POIPET, THE CAMBODIAN
BORDER, I GOT SHOCKED
LAO VISA, IF I HAD KNOWN
GETTING THE FEET MASSAGED I
IN POIPET, THE CAMBODIAN BORDER, I GOT SHOCKED
It's called Poipet. If you
pass through there for sure you won't forget this name.I mean one of the two border points
between Thailand and Cambodia opened to foreigners.
I got there from the town of Siem Reap in Cambodia. It took me several days to reach
Siem Reap from the Lao border, I mean spending days sweating on a kind of wooden raft,
then toasted on the roof of a steel boat and finally packed in a 30 people van jumping and jolting
on bumpy strips of earth called roads.
Lonely Planet warns you about your freaking out moving in Khmer land, so you cannot
complain saying; "if I had known. " since you knew. That's way I was just
patience and tried to enjoy everything,: people, landscape, town, cows, rice. hence
time flew till the moment I realised in few hours my ass would have had peace.
This happened to me in Siem Reap thinking that in 8 hours
I'd have reached Poipet, the border with Thailand. Those hours turned out endless and the
bumpiest of ever; the average speed was at most 20 km/h and in addition the rusty old
"bus" punctured. I still remember the driver getting on asking about volunteers
who help fixing the tyre (and melting under the hot sun). Of course I dodged.
Finally we approached the border. One km before it the bus stopped and the drivers
shouting to beware of thieves dropped us off. What I particularly remember is the dust,
lifting from the semi unpaved road, clouding everything and the people pushing overloaded
rusty trailers. I got my passport stamped and I started walking towards the Thai border
stared by dodgey people doing nothing but standing there. While walking I saw a huge brand
new glass-aluminium structure, it was a casino and then the Thai flags. The road became
paved and the dusty disappeared. Just besides the border a clean polished market and same
sparkling air conditioned vans ready to leave to Bangkok instead of the Cambodian rusty
Air condition. yeah it was three weeks I was longing for it!! Just I got on the van a
man brought me same bottled water and a sandwich included in the travel fare. I was
astonished. Five hundred meters from the border a four lane highway took me in Bangkok in
four hours covered at 120 km/h.
This huge gap between Thailand and Cambodia once again shows how the political
stability determines the development or the destruction of a country more than its
resources or its geographical position..
LAO VISA, IF I HAD KNOWN I WOULDN'T...
I was just arrived in Thailand trying
to figure out how to get a Laotian visa as soon as possible when
I met a woman, who run a hostel, saying she could provide it for
30 $. I decided to trust her (frankly I didn't have other chances)
and I left her my passport paying in advance. Unfortunately it was
Friday hence there was no way to have it before Tuesday. It meant
four days but, at least I could get it in Huay Xai, the town at
the Lao border where she had another guesthouse. I was worried of
separating from my document at the beginning of such long trip,
having just a piece of paper as receipt and I was looking forward
to get it back.
Time flied while I was hanging out in the north of Thailand thinking where my
passport could be, like a daddy anxious for his kid. Finally it comes Monday and I went to
the indicated guesthouse in this small town in the middle of nothing asking at what time I
should have picked up my passport with the visa the day after.
"Boh?? Maybe at 7 a.m., maybe at 9 a.m., maybe at 11 am, maybe tomorrow"
"What?? But my boat to Luang Prabang is at 9 am and I've to buy the ticket in
advance before it gets fullbooked!!!"
"Don't worry you can buy the ticket anyway"
"That's for sure,!!!! But what about getting back my money if I don't receive my
visa in time??"
Here started a persuasion about having promised they would have taken the ticket
back. It was pouring the next morning at 6 am while I was standing in front of the
guesthouse "reception" (I mean a scrap wooden table) plaguing the girl for my
visa. I think she was eager to kick me my ass the fifth time I asked her how I would have
known when my passport were received. But she didn't and told me to be patience. Every
minute to me seemed hours thinking about my boat. And what about if nothing would have
happened?? Where the hell should I have gone to complain??
No way! At 8.30 am a young guy came riding a moped through the muddy puddles with a
bag containing my passport! Yeah!! I was excited when I crossed the Mekong on one of this
narrow unstable pirogue, but I turned quite upset when I saw it was possible to get it at
the border for almost the same amount of money. And you don't even need the pictures!!
The last but not the least, the boat left Huay Xai more than four hours later; lots
of efforts for nothing.
GETTING THE FEET MASSAGED I MET...
was one evening in Chiang Mai while I was walking in the crowdy
centre, that I wanted to have my feet massaged. I lay down on a
deck chair right at the side of the main way were hundreds of people
where strolling with nothing to do but looking at me and at the
stalls. I wasn't
bothered, on the opposite I enjoyed this "being in a window
shop" feeling. A respectful old lady spread on my legs a kind
of eucalyptus essence. A good flavour but so strong that for the
next hours even the cats runaway from me!
A bunch of seconds after she started massaging I realised the
Thai massage is not a relaxing one, but it aims to stimulate the
muscles. It can be sorrowful and sometimes it was, but at the end
I felt my legs fresher and more in shape.
Anyway while I was lying on the deck chair letting the old lady to do
everything she wanted to my legs, I noticed the people, especially the young girls,
looking in my direction whispering to each other. There was an agitation around me more
than elsewhere. I realised what was happening when a young girl went to the guy lain next
to me with a piece of paper and a pen asking for a signature. And then another and
another. I glanced at him wondering who was.
After a while I didn't withstood asking it to him. He turned quite
disappointed hearing my question and answering he was a famous actor.
The worst for him came up when I kindly asked:" famous?? Where?"
and, even more disappointed than before, he answered:" famous in Thailand".
Then I shut up felling I had grounded his proud.
Sorry man, despite globalisation Asia is
still so far from West world.