As most of the countries are in lock down and Malaysia is no exception i thought it might be better to write the memoirs of my past travel .As mention in my blog earlier i have lost most of my travel photos in a online travel album.Anyway i can still remember some of the unlucky or happy incidents or surprises which happen throughout my travel before retirement.i am going to base my experience on a number of countries which i pass through with a friend.
Churches in Vietnam
One striking difference i noticed between Cambodia and Vietnam is there are many beautiful churches in Vietnam but there are hardly any in Cambodia.Before setting foot in Vietnam i never expected to see so many churches over there. I thought all the countries in the north east must be Buddhist except for the Philippines.. Cambodia.Laos and Vietnam are French colony and are known as French Indochina before independence.One reason why there are lack of churches in Cambodia might be the local king with the understanding of the colonizer might have refused entry to missionary or they are not so successful as in Vietnam. After all the kings play a important role in preserving the culture and tradition of the local people especially before independence.I am not a religious fanatic or what but merely pointing out the difference.After spending a few days in Ho Chi minh city we decided to return to Malaysia our home country.As we were working and we got less than a week before reporting for duty.
Travel without flight
This time we wanted to use a different mode of transport to reach Kuala Lumpur were we are working. Instead of a flight we decided to take a bus or train to reach our destination.This itself will be an adventure where we will be traveling through Vietnam,Cambodia ,Thailand and finally Malaysia.After our vacation in Ho Chi Minh city we were back on the road towards Bangkok via Phnom Penh in Cambodia.Looking at the map we noticed it is only a short distance between Ho Chi Minh and Phnom Penh but in reality we started in the morning and only reach Phnom penh around 4 pm in the evening .The journey by bus was rather slow because of the poor road conditions and the delay at border for immigration check.
Is solo travel better?
We decided to put up in Phnom Penh for the night and proceed the next day to Bangkok.As i was with a friend there was always some misunderstanding and sometimes quarrel over certain things.Once i left a travel brochure behind a a tuk tuk, a local transport he accuse me of irresponsible.At other times he booked hotel without my knowledge just because they was a friendly receptionist who promoted the hotel of other branches. We ended up in a hotel far from the town in Siam Reap when we first arrived in Cambodia..Sometimes spending too much time on a particular tourist spot and missing other tourist attraction made me unhappy too.I missed Tonle sap the popular lake in Siam Reap because of spending too much time in Angkor Watt.At the end of the day we patch up our difference and continue with the journey,If you can’t get along with your friend is solo travel an option?
Tonle sap river .
.When we first arrived in Phnom Penh from Kuala Lumpur by flight we spend about 2 days in Phnom Penh and manage to visit a few places like the Royal Palace,Independence monument and the National Museum in this city. The Royal Palace located along the river bank was beautiful. The other activity along the river bank which i can still remember is releasing caged birds for a small fess.Tourist who spend money on this crazy idea are only encouraging this people to keep the birds in captivity.Now I will try to explain our route to any reader who might get confused. After landing in Phnom Penh and spending about 2 days here than went to Siam Reap and spending 2 days there and than back to Phnom Penh again and headed to Ho Chi Minh city and now we are back again in Phnom Penh for the third time again. As we have to report for work in Kuala Lumpur and time is not on our side we decided to book the ticket the very next day to Bangkok.After booking our hotel and ticket from a travel agent near the riverside of Tonle Sap we had our dinner at one of the cafe which is quiet pricey as this area is filled with many tourist.After dinner we decided to explore this area which is bustling with all kind of activity.The road opposite the river bank has many pubs,karaoke joints,bars, cafes and other entertainment outlet .As we walk along we saw buskers playing music and boys enticing tourist to buy their service or products, Well i thought Cambodia must have come a long way since the Pol Pot regime.
Bumpy and Dusty road
The next day we took the bus towards Bangkok.Half an hour along the route in a small village we were directed by the bus driver to board a car which already had 2 passengers inside. The car looks better than the crowded bus and the driver assured us that it is safe and the car is traveling to Bangkok.We transfer the luggage to the car and continue the journey.We befriended the couple inside the car who are Thais and can speak English They are also going to Bangkok.We came to understand they are frequent travelers between Thailand and Cambodia and are doing business.The road condition was too bad and it was a bumpy ride all the way to the Thai border.Some part of the road look more like a plantation road and in some parts along the way the road is tarred to make the road better.Luckily we were inside a air condition car but there were dust flying all around the car as our car move forward.The was around 2008 and maybe the road system might be better now?
No Mans Land
We reach the border around 1 pm.When we were traveling in the car the lady told us that we have to queue and the queue will be long and will take more than 2 hours to get the passport processed.She offered to make the process faster and easier but we have pay usd10 per person and she will pass the money to a certain person to expedite the process. We agreed as we were worried we will be delayed at the immigration and it will be late at night by the time we reach Bangkok.We are also worried as this is the first time in Bangkok and we have not booked any hotel yet.We paid the money to the lady.She also told us to be careful with our purse and passport as snatching is common in this no mans land and it difficult to recover our belongings or make a police report if any of this bad incidence happen.She escorted us over to the Thai Border and many youths who look like potential snatch thief standing on both sides of the no man land.Inside the immigration complex we saw a long queue waiting for the passport to be processed and our new lady friend took us to a counter were our passport were processed immediately and we were soon inside Thailand.
She introduce us to a new driver who is suppose to take us to Bangkok by a van.The lady soon disappeared and after showing the ticket to the new driver he told us to take our lunch first.We took our lunch at one of the eatery and at the same time keeping our eye on this driver worried it might be a scam. We were forced to wait for more than two hours by this driver who told us he have to wait for other passengers who are getting their passport ready at the immigration. This make us frustrated . We realize it was a mistake to pay the sum of usd 20 to this lady we met in the car and instead queue up like others and save the usd 20 for other expenses.We do not know this lady is sincere or is a crook? Left with no choice we waited and finally the driver told us to sit in a van parked nearby.By 4.00pm all the passengers have assembled and sited inside the van.After the headcount by the driver and his assistance we took of for Bangkok.
Smooth ride to Bangkok
Inside Thailand we were surprised to see the roads were as good as in Malaysia.All this while we thought only Malaysia got the best highway in this part of the world.Highway starts at the border and all the way to Bangkok.The ride was smooth and fast.We reach Bangkok around 6.00pm.This is first time in Bangkok and we saw many skyscrapers and flyovers in the city,After dropping all the other passengers in different parts of the city when it is our turn the driver ask us where exactly we want to get down.We told him we want to drop at the railway station.He asked us back which railway station we were heading as there are more than one railway station in the city.We were taken back by this comment and than after some thinking we told him to take us to the station where we can get the train to Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia.He mentioned it is Hua Lumphong station and headed towards there. He drop us at Hua Lamphong station.We finally reached Bangkok around dusk.