Only a damn fool would fly from Siem Reap to Bangkok.
I am a damn fool. But I've learned. Next time will be better, honest and truly. Let me tell you why it's stupid. The route it monopolized by Bangkok Airways. As such it is one of the most expensive flights, for time in air, in the world. Yay for me. Now let me go on to further explain why it's stupid, and why I almost tossed my return ticket.
There is a 25USD departure tax for flying out of the country. A bus ticket is less than this tax would have been. A return bus ticket is less. A Tuk-Tuk costs five dollars to the airport. I have paid 30USD to fly out, when I could have paid 11 for a bus ticket. This is, of course, on top of the hundreds spent on the ticket itself.
But hey, who's counting, right? I'll know better for next time.
Sure the bus is 11 hours, but it's air conditioned, and they give you food. And the seats recline. And at the boarder you're provided a taxi for connections.
My flight is only thirty five minutes in the air but you need to get to the airport early, and wait for baggage claim. All in all my total transport time from hostel to hostel will be about five hours. Less, but not three hundred dollars less, is all I'm saying.
When I meet noodle lady, and get a bowl of her delicious food, all will be good and right in the world once more. Though I'll now pine for the sausage rice that will forever be absent from my heart. Oh G5,6 on road No9 I'll miss you so.
And to make matters worse Boidna (who I am now sure is not named Boidna, but the Bo is part of it) was busy today. So he sent a replacement driver for me. No parting picture! No ability for me to tip him for a week that would have been lacking without him! I couldn't leave the tip with the hostel, or with the new driver. I was sure he'd never see it. I was quite disheartened was we drove through the streets one final time.
Yes I had saved some money by not tipping – but it was an upsetting windfall on my part.
And then into the airport. Look – Siem Reap airport is sweet. You'd not believe it. Free wifi, free internet terminals, clear, well lit, lots of neat shops, good food (though kinda pricey compared with the world outside) but if you have a beard – watch out. You will be touched. A lot!
The first touching came when I was going through security. The girl manning the x-ray asked how long I'd had it, “ohh so long, so long! Nice sir.” And then she requested to touch it. Sure, why not? Appease the security people. Every now and then I get this at airports, or in 'real life' so it's all good. But then customs control, the uniformed official there responded in much the same manner. Sure give it a tug you delightfully armed man you, and yes I do shampoo it. Conditioner too, when supplies allow.
But then I went into a shop. And there I had a third run in. The employee, absolutely drunk (wreaking of booze) came up to me. He too wanted to touch, and almost didn't ask. But then caught himself. For how drunk he must have been, he was still rather well composed. Good on him.
Questions were asked, more so than my two previous sober gropers. “I don't want to ask you personal question sir... [beat] ok – but how does you apply for a job with it?” And then we talked about teaching for some time.
Everything I said he was incredibly interested in. I wonder how his manager felt about these shenanigans, or if it's just protocol to have a few glasses of scotch (from the duty free, perhaps?) before going on shift.
When I asked if his store sold earrings he was profoundly apologetic that they did not, but “thank you so much for coming here sir. Thank you so much for looking through our shop! Sorry we do not have those. But thank you. And nice long beard sir!” I will miss him and his drunken antics. And sadly, having vowed never to fly through this airport again, I know in my heart our paths will never cross paths.
And then I waited for my flight to board. More reading was involved. And hoping that my Thai Visa allowed for multiple entry. Things could get very interesting if it didn't.
Well the flight went well, and as it turns out, I was allowed back into the country. So all was right and well in the world. I have a brand new purple triangular thirty day tourist visa. Which actually confuses me. Did they mess up? Or do you always get a new thirty days if you leave the country? There's no thirty days a year thing going on here? I'd like to come back to this art of the world, so I'll need to check up on visa regulations, and not just leave it to chance like I did this time.
But – back in the country I am, and I took the familiar bus back to the hostel I stayed at where I was greeted warmly, an with confusion by the staff who claimed I had made no reservation, only to then find a print out on the counter with my name on it, that they had clearly got out earlier in the day. Good times were had, and noodle lady was visited.
It was a return to the world of 7-11s and late night dvds. Rather than bed by nine or ten.
In related news I'm not sure if I love or hate 500 Days of Summer.
It's strange coming back to a place you know – and having it be so similar but different from where you were. Walking through 7-11, I saw a child and immediately tried to look away, but it was too late, eyes were locked. And then I realized that it wasn't to be a problem. This child had nothing to sell me. Then I went eating my dinner at the noodle lady table, and reflected on how nice it was to have a peaceful meal – only to have my outstretched leg run over by a scooter. How soon we forget.
Tomorrow I hope to accept that I will sweat, it will be gross, but so be it – there's so much more to this city that needs to be explored.
I'll have to set my alarm too – no work site to get me up anymore.