Into Cambodia: Koh Kong and Sihanoukville

From Ko Lanta we left hastily, having only a few days left on our Thai visa and knowing it would take a few days to get to Cambodia. The trip was long and involved a 1.5hr boat ride to Krabi, 3hr bus ride to Serat Thani, 14hr overnight train to Bangkok, 5hr bus ride to Trat, overnight stopover in Trat followed by an hour bus ride to the Thai / Cambodia border at Hat Lek then a short taxi ride to Koh Kong.

There were no beds left on the overnight sleeper train from Serat Thani to Bangkok which meant we had to take 3rd class seats. What a long, uncomfortable, tiring night. The seats are almost upright, can not recline, and are arranged opposite other seats so that everyone’s legs are in the middle and there is nowhere to stretch. We endured around 14 hours of this on a crowded overnight train. Not fun. At least it’s cheap! Needless to say we slept on the bus from Bangkok to Trat.

Trat was nice. Cheap, heaps of local food and there was some dancing and singing stuff going on for some festival. The border crossing was interesting. The tourist visa into Cambodia is supposed to cost $20. The way it works is the customs officer asks for a lot more, say $40, or the equivalent in Thai Baht. The closer you match his first offer, the faster you get your visa. We waited around half an hour and paid $25 each. Another couple that came before us only wanted to pay $20 and were still waiting by the time we got our visas approved and organized a taxi out of there. A few games go on – the customs officer will be rude and aggressive and close the window in your face when you refuse his first offer. Wait 10 minutes. Then he’ll swap with another guy who’ll maybe ask for a bit less or tell you another story about how you must pay inflated prices in Thai Baht. More waiting, more swapping of customs officers. Eventually you get through.

Koh Kong is the first small town on the Cambodia side of the border. First thoughts of Cambodia were very friendly people, friendly outgoing kids who are keen to try their english skills on you, and lots of smiles. Probably should have stayed in Koh Kong a couple of nights as we found the people nicer and the atmosphere more relaxed compared to the more touristy areas we’ve since visited. We stayed only one night, had a fancy seafood dinner on the waterfront for $11, then caught the bus to Sihanoukville the next day.

Sihanoukville is a party beach resort town. Main thing to do is go to a beach bar and consume your drug of choice. Plenty of options available depending on your preference. Our first night was spent in a bed bug infested beach bungalow. Not really into the local scene nor the bed bugs, we opted for some luxury resort style accommodation for the next couple of nights. No bed bugs, awesome pool, excellent room and a flat screen TV with many cable TV channels. We vegged out in our room and around the pool for a couple of days. We thought we could call it the honeymoon we never had, but there was no poolside cocktail bar so it wasn’t quite there. We resorted to making our own poolside cocktails.

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