Thursday, March 5, 2009

"Visa Run"

Yes, our first Visa Run. Excited, ready to go...we're going to another country...yeah!!!! Boy, did that change quickly. The night before heading to the train station, we decide to call the school we attend to make sure we have everything we need: correct paperwork, passport pictures, amount for ED Visa...which was 2000 Baht and of course, our passports. All of a sudden the info changes...I guess it's one of those " depends on who you talk to" things. Some of the info given this time just didn't match the info given last time, and the time before that!!!

But we left anyway, took a cab to the train terminal at 4 am. Cab driver does not turn on his meter thinking..."Hey they're foreigners...I can charge them anything I want. They don't know where the train station is." WRONG!!! The ride should have cost only about 70 Baht ($3 US) We ask the driver why he didn't turn on the answer. So we ask how much...200 Baht ($7 US). What to do? STOP!!! He understood that word...we got out of the cab and grabbed another one. Finally we get to the train station around 4:30am and the train leaves at 5:55am...5 hour ride...very cheap...48 Baht each ($1.50 US) Awesome!!! From the train we took a tuk tuk to the border. For some reason these tuk tuks don't take you straight there they first take you to the consulate...there trying to get more money out of you so they just tell you that the border is packed...a lot of people..obviously...and that they can take care of all the paperwork for you for a small fee. We kind of said "Border...NOW!!!" and they got the point. Once at the border, we go through Thai Immigration first...smooth. Then...oh oh Cambodian gets tricky. There is a sign above the office desk that states "$20 US for Tourist Visa" The officers ask for 1000 Baht which comes to about $30 US...they pocket the rest. We get to the window and the officer shows us a hand written sign "1000 Baht"...And this is where Jeff returned to his New York roots. "No...$20 US, that's all I'm giving you" The officer slammed the window on us and said "No visa" I love my husband very much...he is very determined. What comes next..."Then I'm waiting right here till you give us our Visa...and this line is gonna get very long!!!!" We got our Visa in less that 5 minutes after that. On our way again. Time to get a 3 1/2 hour taxi ride to Siem Reap. We hooked up with a French gentleman and we were off again.

We finally arrived at a guesthouse. What happens next!!! I start looking for my passport...but I don't have it. Turns out I must have left it at the Car wash we stopped at when the driver decided his car needed some cleaning before getting to Siem Reap. We go back to the Car Wash and was there. A woman found it. Everything was in there: money, credit cards, ID...I learned my lesson for the day. It is such a horrible feeling to loose your wallet especially your passport in a different country...

We walked around the city. The tuk tuk driver can drive you craaaazy...they literally follow you around. Even if you say no...they're very persistent. We were excited to got to Angkor Wat. We rented a tuk tuk driver for the whole day...sunrise to sunset...$12 US. Not bad at all. It was beautiful. One of the most amazing things I've seen yet. It took my breath away. It is huge. You have these little children selling things for $1 and boy there sooo cute but BEWARE!!! They leave you broke.

We stood in Siem Reap for about 3 days and headed to Phnom Penh...5 hour, $5 ride. We needed to get to the Thai Embassy to get our ED Visa straightened out. Except no one told us it would take more than a day...actually 2-3 days to get it back plus remember that 2000 Baht price turns out it was $65 US no Baht accepted...Thai embassy does not except Baht...???? So we had 20 min to get to an ATM or Currency Exchange...guess what we made it. All that meant was that we only had to wait 2-3 days as opposed to 3-4 days for our Visa.

So now we tour Phnom Penh and wait for Visa. We went to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. How sad!!! This was a school turned into a prison where Cambodians were tortured and killed from 1975-1979 "Pol Pot" (just like Hitler) wanted a new society. Horrible what he did to these,women, children and even babies. 2.5 million, dead!!! I have yet to look at a school the same way again!!!

Finally we get our our bus ticket to Bangkok $15 US, 15 hour ride. We're ready to go home. Get to the Bus Terminal and no one knows where the Bangkok bus is. Turns out the man who sold us the ticket wrote 7:15am...Bus left at 6:30am. There is only one bus that leaves to Bangkok another day in Cambodia. Our 3-4 day trip turned into a week. What to do....we toured the Russian Market, hung around the city, walked a little, shopped a little. Then, our camera seems as if its upset with us too. The memory card decides to act up...where are all the pics from Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Phnom Penh...who knows? :(

We ended up taking the bus the next morning on time...So far so good today until...the passengers on the bus start arguing about a seat. The bus company oversold tickets and they even had people sitting in the isle on plastic chairs...just to make some extra cash. Is anyone thinking what I'm thinking...Safety Hazard???

My eyes lit up when I saw the picture of the King and Queen. I was never soooo happy to see them. Jeff, on the other hand, fell in love with Cambodia. He even bought a Khmer Language learn Khmer or, like most people say, Cambodian. I don't regret this trip one did have it's ups and downs. The corruption, the poverty, the sadness of all those lives lost...makes you appreciate what you have. Jeff and I couldn't help but think at times why Jehovah let these things happen. But I know that was the sadness getting the best of me...I know Jehovah is going to make this all better. Pol Pot's intention was to build a perfect society. That's exactly what Satan said Man could do without God. Again, Satan was proved wrong!!! No matter what intention Man has to rule over'll never work. We remember the hope these and others, who have gone through the same thing, all over the world have ...the hope of resurrection.

Side note: We did get our pictures recovered!!!!

1 comment:

-the kids said...

Amazing blog guys!!! My favorite. : )))
Some friends near us just left last month to live in Phnom Penh. Jon & Sam, I will get you their email.. very nice couple. They have been doing Cambodian along time locally...

What would we do without hope?
We need the BIG change... it's coming SOON.

PS. Glad you found your passport! What a feeling!

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