Pattaya Daily News

20 October 2006 :: 12:10:43 pm 26159

Not for the Whimsical in the Rainy Season

Gertrude (Gertie) Henderson---Many visitors to the Far East and residents too would consider a must see as being the famous Angkor Wat.. One of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Many have written about this incredible monument so I’ll leave you to do your own research. On another tack however I will tell you about our recent adventure.
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October 16th.  An occasional day out in the car with an overnight bag just incase had us traveling on the road from Pattaya 331 and onwards to visit the Border Market – Thailand/Cambodia at Aranyaprathet – a mere 300Km by road and accomplished in about 3hours – well maybe a bit more. 

The market for me was a bit of a disappointment. Mostly second hand clothes – shoes and curtains and other household effects. It had been started I understand years ago by the UN who collected clothes for refugees during the wars. What struck me however were the quantity of Cambodians around begging for money or anything else one was prepared to part with willingly or perchance accidentally by the items being removed from one without your knowledge. The atmosphere quite strange in a sort of desperate sort of way – my friend said a bit like India. Carts being trundled back and forth across a quite austere sort of bridge structure which was the border. 

We ended up in a Travel Shop and agreed after some lengthy discussions to take a two day tour to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat. First error. Do not agree on a two day trip by road to Angkor Wat especially in the rainy season. This is now with hindsight – but at the time encouraging. By coach it would take 5 to 6 hours by private car a mere 2 – 3hours. It was only 160Km – there was the first clue that I missed. 

All visas and paperwork was undertaken and we were collected from out local hotel at 7.50 am as agreed and off we went. The queue through the border was fine – dusty and already hot. We passed by the many new Casinos which are now very popular to the main square of Poipet. Our guide directed us to a local shuttle bus which would take us to the Bus Station to meet our Toyota Camra and driver. 

The road. What road I asked myself. A dry mud, dusty track in the middle of a thriving town with huge grooves made by lorries when it last rained a few days earlier. So to the bus station and we were greeted by a beaming, smiley impish looking young Cambodian who proudly presented himself and car. A major crack down one side of the windscreen tapped over rather expertly – one door handle missing on the rear passenger doors but brilliant white and clean. The boot was lined with a sheet of heavy gauge plastic and inside the tank for the gas. Oh yes a gas car not petrol. In we climbed and off we started. 

The first leg of the journey Poipet to Sisophon where we would stop for some lunch. A mere 55Km and should take about half an hour I thought. I was to be advised it would be about 1 – 2 hours. I was puzzled though not for long. The terrain which was better suited for a four wheel drive land rover and even then it would have been challenged was our main highway. Clearly the weight of traffic and rain had made a big impact on this road. No luxury of tarmac or even concrete – just heavy orange soil compacted into a mountainous terrain of holes and cracks and caverns. The driving wheel thrown this way and that as the car rattled – shaked and tumbled from one lump to the next. One and a quarter hours later the relief of being on a flat surface at Sisophon was and is indescribable. The restaurant and lunch much appreciated though a trifle early for us lunching at 10.30. 

Now to the next leg of our journey. Sisphon to Siem Reap – 105 Km. I was asked what was the road like. I said not good infact I corrected myself. What road – much of it had been washed away by the rain and we had to drive through lakes of water guided by numerous locals who helped us to avoid underwater pot holes and moving shingle. We passed many coaches that had succumbed to a hidden hole and had toppled in and was left with the rear or front end upended into the air. Local currency notes flew out of the window as we tipped each group for helping us through the huge lakes of water. 

The most astonishing thing of all was the calm and amusement of the local people. In the warmth of the sunshine and surrounded by rice paddies they were playing – basking in the water – fishing and taking it all in their stride as just another day. I suppose when you live with the rainy season every year you let life go on and cope accordingly.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Tourism News

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