Aranyaprathet or Poipet?

5:37 PM Shanky 0 Comments whole point of the trip two years back was to have one helluva time. So we had a massive hangover when we started for the Angkor Wat. It was 7 in the morning and the cab had arrived. We were not going to leave the best western without having their breakfast though! So after breakfast the gloomy 5 started onwards to Cambodia, the place where the great Cholas had gone long ago. But none of these thoughts were on our mind, and the only thing ringing inside was when to stop for coffee!??

We all passed out in the cab and in a Hollywood movie we would have been kidnapped by the driver and would be spending our time in a pig pen whilst our kidnappers were busy asking ransom from the US government/consulate. However, this is not ordinary movie and we were no ordinary guys ;) So when the cabbie stopped at a pit stop almost an hour away from the border we weren't mildly surprised. The rest had got the fluids back into our body and that meant few of us were rushing to the rest rooms clutching our stomach and ready to ninja kick anyone who would have stopped us! While the rest of us were busy ogling at some of the Thai beauties at the pit stop and ordered coffee. There was something amiss at this place, not just the pit stop, but the whole of Thailand! Or even the SE Asia. There was a teenage couple at the coffee shop. That’s not weird, but what was indeed weird was that the guy was chilling in the chair outside whilst the chic came inside, ordered, paid and carried both the coffee out. This would have been "dating suicide" in our country as mentioned in 101 things to avoid with your girlfriend. Then they had coffee, kissed, hugged and separated ways! I guess they must be from the local village who would have thanked heavens when this coffee shop and pit stop first opened.
Anyway, so after smoke, coffee and more smoke, we were Angkor bound once again. The cabbie was grinning at our relieved faces and that just made us feel that he’s a brother from different mother. He knew when to stop, where to stop and he understood the travails of drunken young men! God bless his soul! At the border, we encountered the usual list of squatters, hawkers, visa touts. We ignored everyone and went to the emigration queue at the Thai side. There were separate queues for Thai nationals and others. Though the Thai queue was thin, the officials refused to allow foreigners in that queue. So it is confirmed that these guys are Asians who follow stupid procedures to the tee and we felt comfortable. That’s because we felt like home while the foreigners were cribbing with their huge backpacks swinging off their shoulders.
Finally when our turn came, we got stamped at Aranyaprathet (the Thai side of the border) and were permitted to move to Poipet (The Cambodian side of the border). It always amuses me that the name of a place can change depending on which side of the check post. Apart from administrative clarity I don’t see any cultural reason as to why they have different names for the same place! Anyway, I am not here to change the world, I am here more because I am tired of the world that I get to see every day! So on we go to the Angkor side of the immigration check, give our thumbprints, photos taken, e-visas verified and then there is the surprise. We were herded into a bus claiming to be free tourist bus to the bus stand from where we can board the bus for Siem Reap. The familiar too much helping = too much trouble takes over but we were comforted by the fact that there were two more buses, full of tourists that are making their way. So we go along, to be surprised and to be proved wrong again that it’s not a fraudster but a genuine tourism board volunteer helping the guys who are helping their economy! These SE guys really kill it when it comes to amenities for tourists. At the bus stand as this is an international border we got to exchange some money and then boarded the $10 per head mini vans to Siem Reap.

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