On our fifth day in Cambodia we left our hotel at 8am to catch a bus (more like a van, actually) that would take us back to Thailand, precisely in Trat, where the ferries to the island of Koh Kood leave. We were looking forward to our relaxing end to the trip. It has been an infernal journey of 10 hours, we were very tired and disheartened. The very kind girl at the reception of our hotel in Siem Reap (https://www.thecyclodangkor.com) had found and booked the transfer for us, even if I had shamefully asked her advice only the day before. She was so sweet, one morning she even gave me her bracelet as a gift! All the staff was exceptional actually, they were all so young yet polite, helpful, always smiling and cheering you anytime you would leave or go back to the hotel. So many places should learn from them, where the staff is older and more experienced but maybe not so kind.
As we wanted to save money and a private car was too expensive, a bus to Trat (365km from Siem Reap) was fine for us, too bad the only solution that we were given was a rubbish company: Hangtep Travel and Transport Co. Ltd (avoid it, if you can!). First thing in the morning, a van brought us from the hotel to the centre of Siem Reap (10 mins journey). As soon as we got on it we grew depressed because it was little and uncomfortable and we couldn’t even sit next to each other as it was full. If only we had seen the next one… Once in the centre of Siem Reap we were moved to an even older and more uncomfortable van. It was full, too, so we couldn’t sit next to each other and we didn’t even have a proper seat. We had those improvised “seats” that are usually closed and attached to normal, fixed seats and you open if the van’s full. We didn’t have support for our shoulders and neck so you can imagine the pain. Oh Gosh, it was terrible. I was squeezed between an unpleasant boy and a kind man. My boyfriend, on the other hand, was behind me, squeezed, too. Thank God during the journey I had a good book with me, otherwise I would have gone mad.
After 3 hours of traveling like this, with two toilet stops if I remember well, we arrived at the cambodian border of Poipet (famous for its casinos, where Thais go to play). Here comes the worst part. They dropped us down because we had to change vans for the third time. We had to reach the Thai border on foot with our backpacks (you had to pay more if you wanted them to bring your luggage to the other van, which was fair). It was a 15 minutes’ walk. They didn’t give us any directions and we were just following people in front of us who were intuitively walking, too. We had to show various times passports and visas, do a lot of queues (the last queue was the worst: I think it lasted 1.30 hour). After finally arriving to the Aranyaprathet border, in Thailand, we didn’t know where to go, again. It was all very improvised. An unpleasant and rude man, from Hangtep Company I guess, told us where to wait for further indications and pointed with his finger where we had to stop. Unfortunately we didn’t understand and so we kept walking like 10 metres more, when suddenly we heard someone screaming, and guess what, it was the rude man shouting angrily at us! “Where are you going? I told you to stop there! Why you don’t listen to me?” I was just so shocked, I felt like crying. He really had problems managing his anger. And anger for what? For two confused clients not understanding where they had to go because of their shitty “organization”? And two minutes later he was arguing with another couple, too, because they rightly didn’t trust his directions and he started shouting and saying curse words to the poor girl. Moreover, the kind Finnish guy who was sitting next to me on the van had lost the sticker from the company, that we had to stick to our t-shirts, and the same horrible man was telling him that he had to pay again for the transfer to Bangkok. Like they didn’t have a list with the names of the passengers! He could have just checked his name on the passport to find out that yes, he had paid already. But of course he wasn’t interested in giving a fair and honest service.
Then, after 2.30 hours on the border, we finally caught the van to Trat. I think this was the worst of the three, it had a continuous, intermitted “beep” (for 2.30 hours) and the driver was driving so bad and so fast, I was pretty frightened. I’ve been traveling since I was a kid so I’m used to this kind of driving (in Cuba, Sri Lanka, Egypt…), it’s not that I’m only used to a safe, Swiss-kind of driving (I’m not talking clichès, I studied in Switzerland 😀 ahah) but believe me, this was terrible.
We finally made it to Pop Guesthouse in Trat, near Laem Sok pier (26mins by car): we were so relieved. We only paid 15 euro for a simple but clean room. We had a shower, we had dinner at their on site restaurant and we met a nice German couple who was staying there, too, exchanging advice and travel adventures. The owners were serious and helpful and there was a nice doggy coming to greet us. It was a very quiet part of Trat.
Unfortunately we had to spend one night in Trat. I hoped to go directly from Siem Reap to Koh Kood without losing nights in-between, so that we could enjoy the seaside more, but we were arriving too late and the last ferry to the island had left already (it was at 2.20pm). The following day we had breakfast (it wasn’t included) and then the pick up from Boonsiri, the ferry company, arrived to bring us to the main reception, very near to the pier. We waited 40 minutes there and were then transferred to Laem Sok to catch the morning ferry. The journey lasts only 1.15 hour, we spent 40euro pp (35pounds) because we also bought the return ticket and then the Boonsiri bus from Laem Sok pier, in Trat, to Bangkok, to catch our flight back to Italy. We liked the company, the ferry and the bus were clean and quite new and modern. You can check routes here (https://kohkoodferries.com/boonsiri-ferry-catamaran-fantasea/), they travel to Koh Mak and Koh Chang, too.
Above you can see a photo of our room in Koh Kood, but this is a different story.
How about you? Have you got any infernal journeys to tell me about? If yes, I’d be happy to read them in the comments. Let’s share the misadventures.
Have a lovely day, dear readers!