Thailand is clean, orderly and way more sophisticated than Cambodia. Gone are the endless children calling out “hello, hello”, the tractors, bicycles, the stalls and people on the side of the road almost everywhere. I know that not all Thailand is like this, but I did venture off the main highway several times into the side streets and it was still very quiet compared to Cambodia and Vietnam, I missed the life going on around me in Cambodia and Vietnam. The Cambodian people are different to Thai people, Thai adults say hello, only the kids did in Cambodia, the adults were less welcoming, more reserved. I got the feeling that foreigners are not to be trusted. The war was not so long ago and it is still very much a part of their lives.
I know I said on the first day in Cambodia there was less rubbish, I was wrong. There was just less rubbish that day. Thailand is cleaner in general, it’s not as poor, thats very obvious. This would explain the emigration queues at the border, hundreds of Cambodians crossing into Thailand in the hope of finding work with better wages and conditions, it was a painful three hour wait, inching forward in the queue, thankfully it was air-conditioned. I wish them all the luck in the world.
My last few days in Cambodia were filled with Khmer New Year frivolity. The endless water and talcum powder, Police running through the jungle with machine guns and firearms drawn while the bamboo train ran between them, driven by my beer swilling driver, apparently some one was on the run. A night on the toilet, followed by a bike ride on an empty stomach in fear any food would require me to use an impossible to locate toilet. A wonderful road side stop with Bun from Siem Reap, his family where on their way to Thailand for a holiday. Yes, I left my shoes at the home stay and Bun knew I was riding from Sisophon to PoiPet that day so he packed them in the hope he would see me, how strange it was to see someone I knew so far from anywhere familiar to me, but it felt like I was seeing an old friend!
I had a day of firsts in Thailand, my first Thai massage, painful but excellent and just what my sore body needed. My first toilet with an automatic bidet and an air dryer, complete with warmth adjustment, I did try it, all of it. And my first creep, in over 3000km of riding in South East Asia I was stalked by a guy in a ute that felt it was necessary for me to see his genitalia, and I am pretty sure “F%@* off!” is the same in any language. Fortunately there was a Police road block a few hundred metres away, I stopped and pretended like I was talking to the Police and pointed at creepy guys car, with my inability to speak any Thai I certainly wasn’t going to attempt charades for what he was doing. I didn’t see him again.
So that’s the end, one month, 1300km or there abouts, one boat ride, nil punctures and no major incidents. I rode into Bangkok with it’s crazy traffic, I wasn’t going to, but I figured I’ve ridden in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Phnom Penh, I will give it a crack. It wasn’t too bad, I took back roads which was nice for the first 40km, the last 30km the traffic built up to a gridlock, which is perfect for a bike because I just ride down the side. It’s been an adventure for sure, right up to the last kilometre. I am happy to go home and not ride a bike for a little while, so until next time…..