It is 253 km (4 hours) to the border and we have changed our plan to try and cross today instead of tomorrow. We usually do not do a border with a long drive on either side, but after the other guys only took and hour to get across we will try for it. This also means we will still have the next day (Friday) to try again if we have issues.
The first 95 km on the National Highway 4 was totally straight and there was an amazing amount of traffic for Cambodia. It is partly cloudy and this is a relief as it was already 29 at 745 when we left. When we turned off onto the 48 there was literally no traffic and the road more hilly and curvy thru the jungle. It was also in poor condition in some sections. Finally we crossed the bridge and Thailand was in sight.
We arrived to the Cambodia-Thai border zone and parked to the right just before the gate.
There is an immigration office on the right with the windows clearly marked in English. We took our passports to the “Departure” window for an exit stamp and to hand in the departure card. They check your fingerprint and take a photo.
They cared not a whiff about the bikes or customs. There actually is a customs office directly opposite, but no-one asked us to go there and in 5 minutes and we were done and thru the gate to the Thai side.
You ride 100 m and the Police waved us past the gate to park on the left by the immigration building. The agent there is outside at a desk and he handed us 2 arrival cards and said while pointing “ first go there (customs) and then there (to the police kiosk), and third back here to me”.
Everyone was super friendly and they did not even blink about the bikes. We walked across the road to customs and handed him 2 carnet and 2 passports. He also did not flinch and just started doing the paper work for the carnet and TVIP.
Then we went back over to the police and they took the TVIP and entered in in a ledger and handed us a plastic exit card.
Next you go to the immigration building on the left. The first window is the Visa office, which is visa on arrival and there is no longer a fee (it was 30 USD). She wanted our passport and TVIP (proof you will exit the country is needed like a plane/bus ticket or 30 day TVIP). There is a massive sign here stating the penalties for overstaying your visa. She did all the paperwork and handed us 2 copies of the visa to sign. Next you go around the corner “to window 3”, where there agent takes your passport, arrival card, and visa papers. They take your photo and have you sign in the ledger.
You then go back to your bike and the gate agent takes one of your visa copies and the plastic exit card. Now you are free to roam in Thailand (for 30 days).
We were in and out in 30 minutes total. Unbelievable after all the angst and stress (we have heard since a number of people have been refused, but none that used carnets). Since we still have LTE from our Cambodian Sim we could now look for somewhere to go to stay on the beach for a few days and relax! We have to be at YSS south of Bangkok on Monday in 4 days time.
There is a huge gated diversion about 500 m from the border this is a clear reminder that you have to drive on the left here! I had just given shit to the gal on the bike riding in my lane…oops. The second thing you will notice riding here is there is NO garbage all over the place like Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
We only had to go 42 km to the hotel we booked at the beach and last minute it was 60 % off! So we booked 2 nights. Time to decompress.
We had planned to go to YSS and then book it to KL for service Dec 6 and then ship to Sydney, Australia Dec 10-12 in order to make the only ferry reservation that was left 1 month ago for Dec 24. This would put us on Tasmania very late in the day with a 4 hour drive to Hobart for Christmas dinner with our friend Deb.
We had also booked tickets in February 2 days before they sold out for the 3 capes hike starting Dec 26 to see the finish of the Melbourne to Hobart sailing race. This means we have a very tight time line and the only boat we can get to get off Tasmania is Jan 7. The weather in Oz in December sucks especially in the north.
After a Facebook call with Deb she suggested we abandon the hike and the ferry and ship to NZ first and then ship to Oz in March. This makes a lot more sense weather and time management wise. This also gives us more time now in Thailand and Malaysia. We have cancelled plans to rush back to NA and meet the Dymonds in Austin for the moto GP in April, we have cancelled our plans to walk the Camino Norte in September, and we have postponed our trip to Africa that was to be January 2019. We are really burnt out after this year and the super tight schedule over the last 8 months. Thinking of keeping to a rigid plan at this point feel impossible. We need a rest.
Today we head 288 km north towards Bangkok to Pattaya and to within striking distance of YSS for Monday.
It was a pleasant 25-25 degrees she we started out at 9, but by 11 it was 32. There is a fair amount of traffic on the #3 especially near cities and there are a lot of long traffic lights and urbanization .
We had a hard time finding a car wash and finally did in Pattaya City. It is owned by and American and the bikes have not been this clean since new! It was just 5 more km to the hotel and the traffic was bad in a few section, but then moved well once we got off the main road. Drivers here are very courteous and follow the rules like the speed limit and merging “like a zipper”.
We were warmly welcomed by the staff at the hotel!
We did a bit of a walk in the “tourist” zone and were horrified by the sleazy clubs and bars. This is a place for prostitution and predators. We did however still head back to the tourist zone for dinner as there was a nice place with a deck on the water. You have to walk past a huge open “mall” with dozens of “bars” with ladies/lady boys of the evening prepping and pimping/primping for the night.
Our second day here we walked up onto the “hill” thru the parks and there are several temples here worth seeing.
For dinner we walked back over the hill and down to the sea to the Cabbages and Condoms restaurant. This place uses profits to fund schools and community projects.
To get home we opted for a scooter taxi. After haggling for the price we settled somewhere in the middle, but when we got to the hotel and the driver realized he thought it was a different farther hotel and right away he said he would change to the original price we asked for. Very nice honest guy. Funny as he misunderstood the place we wanted to go and must have thought we were being cheap and we though he was overcharging. Ha ha .