A Travellerspoint blog

Kuala Lumpur

Our flight landed into KUL just before midnight, which broke our cardinal travel rule of only arriving into new cities during the day so that we can actually see things and make an informed first impression. The ride from the airport was long, windy, and dark. We arrived into the city center and I was surprised to see that a lot of bars were open and still going strong. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect from a primarily Muslim country. I usually do plenty of researching before traveling somewhere new, but I barely read up on anything about Kuala Lumpur. I knew of the Petronas towers and I knew the food would be great. That was the extent of what I knew. Maybe because I had little to no expectations, Kuala Lumpur impressed me. It was so big, clean, and modern. The architecture (Petronas Towers aside) was stunning. Every building was so unique, if it were in any other city it would be the star of the skyline, but in KL it was just another building.
We stayed at the Sahabat Guesthouse, located in the heart of Bukit Bintang. I would highly recommend that area for anyone interested in good food and nightlife. Jalen Alor, the famous food street, was in striking distance as well as lots of restaurants and bars. We spent 4 nights in Kuala Lumpur and could have easily spent more time there.

What We Did
Of course the first thing we did was go to the Petronas Towers. We navigated our way there using public transportation and I was instantly impressed how efficient the city is. It would be easy to kill a full day in the immediate area surrounding the towers. There's a huge mall and tons of restaurants connecting to it. There's also a huge park that offers numerous viewpoints. Bring your bathing suit, there is a mini water park to swim in.

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We spent a full day on the outskirts of the city. We took the commuter train to the Batu Caves and walked around the park areas. The area was taken over by monkeys, hold onto your stuff!

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under the waterfall

under the waterfall


cool man

cool man

Wise monkey

Wise monkey


Kuala Lumpur is defined by this picture...old mixed with new

Kuala Lumpur is defined by this picture...old mixed with new

From the Batu Caves, we found a cab to take us to Templar Rain Forest and Kanming Waterfall. The waterfalls are tiered with 7 levels, each level supposedly offers a natural swimming area. My goal was to make it to the 5th tier, but after climbing the Batu Caves my legs had turned to jello. We only made it to the 3rd tier and found the best swimming to be on the second tier. There were tons of Malaysians swimming and picnicking. We were the only foreign tourists that I saw. And of course there were tons of monkeys! After a few hours of swimming and exploring we ordered noodles from the Malay stall outside the park. The owner was extremely friendly and offered to drive us back to the Batu Caves so we could catch the train back into the city. Score!

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trekking up the waterfalls

trekking up the waterfalls

I had to get something notarized so we had to go to the US embassy. The American citizen services department was so ridiculously inefficient, it took a half a day to get one notary stamp. Get your shit together USA. It was interesting to watch all the Malaysians applying for US visas. I just wanted to tell them not to even bother, Kuala Lumpur is way more impressive.

What We Didn't See that I wanted to see
Chinatown
We wanted to go to the Sky Bar at the Traders Hotel to see the towers at night but never made it

What we Ate
Indian food-it's cheap and everywhere!

Malaysian lunch buffet. They have these all over the city. You help yourself to a plate and someone comes over and charges you based on how full your plate is. There is a wide range of food items and the food is delicious.

Samosas the size of your head from the street vendors

Grilled chicken wings from Jalen Alor. Heaven
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Shawarma street sandwiches

A plate of nachos that may have been the best thing I ever put in my mouth. This may also be because I haven't had Mexican food in 7 months and was going through extreme withdrawals. Mmmmmm nachos.

Street hamburger stands. There was one outside of our guesthouse and that offered very unique choices. The Burger Queen was something else, 3 patties, a huge fried egg, cheese, and all fixings.
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What we Drank
The bar scene in Kuala Lumpur was awesome. I would go back just for the nightlife. We went to a rooftop bar that offered unlimited fresh fruit mojitos for about the equivalent of $15. I didn't expect the mojitos to be anything special but they turned out to be literally the best I've ever had.

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We also bar hopped on Bukit Bintang, where there is literally a bar for everyone...Irish bar, Jamican bar, English bar, Shisha bars, live music bars, dancing bars, upscale posh type bars...you name it, they got it.

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Kuala Lumpur we will be back!

Posted by inbetweendreams 00:19 Archived in Malaysia Comments (0)

Goodbye Korat

Bittersweetness

Quote of the day: "Its time to move on...time to get going. What lies ahead I have no way of knowing. But under my feet babe, grass is growing. It's time to move on, time to get going"-Tom Petty

I have moved so many times in my life, yet the one thing that has not gotten any easier is saying goodbye to the places that I have temporarily called home. We only spent 6 months in Korat, but our time in this city will forever leave an impact on who I am and who I will become. I will look back on my 6 months here with a heavy heart and there will undoubtedly be many things I will miss. Korat has really felt like home and it truly is a wonderful representation of experiencing Thailand. The real Thailand, away from the tourists and the destruction that they bring to authentic life. I feel we got very lucky ending up in such a large, hospitable, and genuine city. We both found jobs and succeeded beyond what I had ever imagined. We formed strong bonds and forged new friendships that will hopefully last for our lifetimes. As excited as I am to move to Krabi, it truly was hard to walk away from the life we built here in the gateway to Northeastern Thailand. Korat is a city I could see myself living in for many years. It has a strong sense of community. It's cheap and there is a ton of work here, we could keep living like kings and queens all while saving a decent amount of money in our bank accounts. Why walk away from that? The main drawback for me is location, it's just too far to get to a beach or go on a cool quick weekend trip. The city is also quite dull during the day. Lately it's been so hot, there has been no real incentive to leave our air conditioned apartment until the sun goes down. And I work too much. There's so much work here it's hard for me to turn it down. But I didn't come to Thailand to jump right back into the daily grind, and unfortunately that's what I've been feeling lately. Krabi offers a fresh start, and an area with so much to experience and offer. I am excited to start fresh and hopefully slow down a bit.
During my last week in Korat I felt rushed to cram in eating all my favorite meals, doing all my favorite things, and seeing all my favorite people. There were so many things I was going to miss I had to rush to do them all one last time. I wanted to eat Oh's lap tod and honey chicken. I wanted to motorbike through the countryside and rice fields to Huay Yang lake and watch the sunset while eating the just caught fish of the day. I wanted to go see a Swatcats game at King Stadium (Nakhon Ratchasimas soccer team). I wanted one last night to drink beers til dawn with our Thai friend Cookie while belting out songs and having our own dance party. I wanted to eat the chicken and rice from my lunch lady who makes the best side sauce in town. I wanted to go out with the Thai girls at Inlingua and have them show us the hot spots we've been missing. I wanted to go to the disco that Cookie always tries to persuade us to go to. I wanted to eat the homemade lamb kabob from the only western stand in Saveone. I wanted to walk through every stall in Saveone market and go on a massive shopping spree. I wanted to eat my favorite duck noodle soup and my favorite pork noodle soup served by the most warmest Thai ladies with such glowing smiles. I wanted to go see a Thai band play at the rock looking venue. I wanted to go to downtown Korat and walk around Yamo and the canals. I wanted to go swimming at the Sima Thani. I wanted to go on the full day itinerary around the province that one of my private students planned for me. I wanted to get a 2 hour massage from my favorite masseuse. So much to do so little time! Time ran out before I got a chance to do all my lasts. I am sad to leave but excited for a new adventure. Goodbye Korat and the great memories that you have given us! Up next, a much needed vacation and some travel time. Peace out yo!

Pictures from our last few weeks

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Posted by inbetweendreams 18:50 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Schools out for Summer

I have officially completed my first semester as an English teacher at a government high school in Thailand and it feels good to be finished. I am happy for the experience, but I am glad for the break. A typical class size in a government school in Thailand is about 45 students. I taught a few M3 classes with over 50 students. It can be very overwelming to control a room of 50 people, much less 50 rowdy young boys that dont care about learning English. Like many, I have always had a fear of public speaking or talking in front of groups. It has been something that I aspired to work on, and leading a classroom everyday definitley helped me to become more comfortable speaking in front of large groups. I also had to speak at the flag ceremony a few times throughout the semester. Talking in front of 4500 people is definitely a good way to get over a public speaking fear. I dont think anybody who knew me looked at me and thought "she will make a great teacher in Thailand!". I'm not offended, I didnt think that about myself. For me, it didnt come easy or naturally, I really had to work and push myself out of my comfort zone. I challenged myself everyday, and am truly proud of what I have overcome to get where I am today. I am proud of myself for finishing the semester, because there were times I was ready to just fuck it and head south to become a beach bum instead. Now the plan is to officially become a beach bum but at least I earned it:)

When I decided that I wanted to teach abroad, I assumed that it had to be at a school. I also work part time at a private language center and I truly enjoy that work. Zach works there full time and is rocking it too. I believe he's truly found his passion. Our classes are either private or no more then 5 students, and the people who sign up actually want to learn. Ages vary from four year olds to university students to corporate adults. Not only is it enjoyable, but I am actually pretty damn good at it. My students love me, and I have perfected the craft of devising a fun and balanced lesson every time. The hours are also much more flexible and the students actually care to learn. I've developed genuine rapport and relationships with my students. So for anyone thinking about teaching abroad, don't feel limited that you have to teach at a school, you don't. There is plenty of other work available if big impersonal classes aren't your thing. Jobs are so easy to come by in a Thailand, particularly if you are an American female. For some reason there are not many American females, at least where I'm at, and they are in high demand. Compared to home, the pay seems low, but when you factor in the ridiculously cheap cost of living it's actually really decent. We've actually been able to save quite a bit of money.
School is out for summer until May. The language school gets pretty busy during break with summer classes so we are going to keep working and take advantage of the extra classes. The plan is to keep saving so we can take a long break and travel or go live on an island for a few months. It's hard seeing all the facebook pictures from my TEFL friends because they have all started traveling during the school break. I just need to be patient, my time will come.

Even though I won't be renewing my contract, I wouldnt trade my semester teaching at Rachisima for the world. I had some great experiences and met some wonderful people. Highlights of the semester included:

-Writing the script and helping to organize the international fashion show
-Participating in the Christmas carnival by singing on stage and judging the Christmas Boy pagaent
- Celebrating the King's birthday with parades and school events
-Sports day
-Getting dressed up like a Thai angel and leading a school parade. I literally had to pose for a million pictures. I'm not big on being the center of attention so this was new for me. Everyone wanted a picture with the dressed up Falang
-Judging OCOP projects. OCOP stands for one class one project. Essentially each class makes a project and sets up a booth and presents it at the mall. The students get really involved and it was a lot of fun
-My school was in the running to win a national award so they put on a show for the government officials that was literally AMAZING. reaffirmed that even though most students suck at English, they do have other talents.
-Thai teacher potlucks
-M3 graduation...I have to admit I felt proud for my students...even the ass holes
-Walking around my town and being waied at by random students. I will miss constantly being recognized (Teacher! teacher!) and respected (well respect is a loose term, but recognized yes)

The English Department

The English Department

Getting ready to make offerings to the monks

Getting ready to make offerings to the monks

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Thanks for the memories. Peace out yo!

Posted by inbetweendreams 04:10 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

24 hours in Bangkok

Quote of the day: "Get up stand up. Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, don't give up the fight"

A few friends were both going to be in Bangkok on the same weekend so I decided to bus down to the city for the night. I live about 150 miles from Bangkok, a journey that should take no more then 3 hours. Zach has full days of classes on the weekends so I would be making the trip solo. I was excitied about my journey of figuring out bus and train schedules, it's good for the mind. I plotted my course, all I had to do was take a songtheow to the bus station in Korat, hop on the bus to Bangkok, hail a cab to Mochit BTS line, change to the MRT at Phaya Thai, get off at Ratchaprasong and walk to my hotel. Easy .

Things went south from the start. I hopped on the wrong songthaew and had to change at the mall. Once I got to the bus station, I told them "vip" (which is the express to Bangkok) and was ushered onto a departing bus. It made multiple stops before we even left Korat. I should have gotten off right then and there, but I figured once we were out of the city it would become an express. Oh how wrong I was. The bus offered local service the entire way. We must have stopped to either drop off or pick up randoms on the side of the road over 50 times. The bus was a revolving door of farmers coming on holding chickens, women carrying their screaming babies, street vendors trying to hawk their goods. I was the only one on the entire bus that made the complete journey from Korat to Bangkok. Oh whet a fool they must have thought I was. Stupid Falang. The journey in total ended up taking me 7 hours! The express bus is between 2.5 and 3 hours depending on traffic. What a day.

Needless to say, when I finally arrived in Bangkok I needed a drink. I dumped my backpack in my hotel room and walked to meet Keebs and Danielle at their hotel pool for some late afternoon cocktails.

Drinks at the Novotel pool

Drinks at the Novotel pool

I don't think I've seen them since college so it was a nice reunion. We had some drinks relaxing by their hotels infinity pool listening to the live bands playing at the Ratchaprasong protest site right below. I have to admit I'm intrigued by the Bangkok shut down and protests. Even though the government advises to stay away, I want to experience them. It's an interesting thing to see how other countries rebel. Thailand's protests right now are much more peaceful then those in the Ukraine or Venezuela, in fact they have been described as "carnival like". Comrade is high and the rallies are littered with food and merchandise vendors while the people are entertained with live music, chants, and parades. After experiencing them first hand, I can indeed confirm the sites to be carnival like.

Peaceful protests

Peaceful protests

We decided to cab it to Silom and have dinner followed by drinks at the sky bar at Lebeu State Tower, more famously featured in Hangover 2. Since I went right from the bus to meet up with my friends, I must admit I looked a bit disheveled. I also had on my token flip flops. The lobby of the hotel was filled with beautiful people fresh and dressed to the nines. I instantly felt self conscious and once we reached the elevators to go up, the door girl refused to let me in because of my flip flops. She rudely explained that all footwear must be "fashionable". Excuse me for not being fashionable.

Keebs and Danielle went up and devised a brilliant plan to bring me down Danielle's shoes. Keebs came down a few minutes later, shoes hidden in his pocket. I put them on, threw my unfashionable flip flops in my purse, and cleared security no problem. Mission successful!
We met up with barefoot Danielle hiding in the corner. I returned her shoes and was faced with the dilemma of staying barefoot or putting my flip flops on and risking someone seeing them and kicking us out. I choose to stay barefoot. If approached, I was ready to explain that my heel broke so I had to take my shoes off. That's a thing that happens to girls I think, I wouldn't know because I don't wear fashionable shoes such as heels.

So back to being suspended on a precipice 830 feet in the air, fucking trippy! Sky bar is the highest bar of its kind in the world and boasts itself to be "the most stunning rooftop bar you will ever see". Apparently I've developed a massive fear of heights. I instantly got dizzy and anxious and froze in one position too scared to move. I downed my $20 cocktail (yes you read that right) in one gulp praying it would ease my anxiety but it didn't help. It was also windy as hell being so high in the sky, I could literally picture myself falling over. The Sky bar was a fairly small circle suspended over nothing. It felt like we were just hanging there. Once my nerves calmed down a bit, I had to admit the views were spectacular. You could see the entire city. They even had a live band playing that classy type music you would expect to be playing while drinking a $20 cocktail on a roof top bar.

Scene from Hangover

Scene from Hangover


Creepy photo bomber

Creepy photo bomber

Bar

Bar


Long lost friends

Long lost friends

Band in the sky

Band in the sky


Danielle and I

Danielle and I

After the Lebau, we had drinks at the bus bar in Pratanum. It's a pretty neat concept and they even had a lady set up playing a guitar. It was a fun night and was really nice to see some familiar faces.

Bus bar

Bus bar

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Sunday morning I woke up and had breakfast on the rooftop of my hotel.
Breakfast with a view

Breakfast with a view

The views were stunning, and right there while looking over the city I decided that I actually like Bangkok. If you read through my blog, you will find such statements written like "Bangkok is the city of devils" or "I would be happy to never step foot in that awful place again". I am now eating those words. Bangkok is one of those cities that grows on you. It has become one of my favorite cities and I already can't wait to go back. I spent Sunday shopping and eating western food because my town has a serious shortage. I also walked around the protest sites taking in the atmosphere. I caught the correct VIP bus back to Korat and made it home in 2 and half hours. All in all a great weekend! Batteries recharged for the final weeks of school!

Posted by inbetweendreams 07:26 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Election Day

Don't drink and vote!!

I am not sure if mainstream American news has mentioned the political upheaval that has been happening in Thailand. Frankly I don't know how they would find the time between Justin Bieber's arrest and Richard Sherman's "racial" interview. Clearly those things are more important. Basically Bangkok has been shut down since early January due to protesters demanding a government change. I won't pretend to understand the intricacies of what is going on, but it's a big deal. For the most part the protests have been peaceful, and I respect the hell out of any nation that stands for something and doesn't back down on what they believe in. If Thailand can become even a notch less corrupt because of this then I am all for it. Time will tell how long it carries on, but February 2nd was deemed Election Day. It's complicated, but the protesters don't want anyone to vote because they know the "corrupt" government will just be re elected. What does all this mean to me? It means for Election Day and 24 hours before no alcohol could be sold or consumed. On a Saturday! I work 7 days a week and Saturday is my day to let loose and watch English Premier league. Who woulda thought id become an avid soccer fan (Liverpool!!!).
We decided to head to our usual bar despite the warnings that they would not be serving. We've become quite close with the Thai couple that owns the bar and as usual they were happy to see us. They had us sit inside with them and served us our usual Leos. We were just friends having some drinks, they weren't serving and we weren't buying. A few minutes into the Newcastle/Sunderland match other patrons began trickling in armed with their own bottles of HongThong or Sangsam. By halftime every seat was full and everyone was drinking. Paper bags were carefully placed around each bottle as if that were enough to hide the banned substance. The energy was high, we were doing something wrong and it felt like it. The rest of the street was dead and many restaurants didn't even bother opening to avoid an alcohol fine. Halfway through the game the electricity went out. The staff scrambled and with in minutes every table was lit with candles. I felt like I had stepped back in time to the prohibition era....hiding in a speakeasy with my brown paper bag and no electricity. Throw on a little big band jazz and the image would be complete. Unfortunately the police arrived to break up my dream. Now I felt like I was 20 years old at a college party that just got busted. The police made everyone leave, though luckily our owner friend talked his way out of a fine.
It was a really interesting day proving once again you never know what tomorrow will bring in Thailand.

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Posted by inbetweendreams 03:56 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Lions and tigers and bears: oh my!

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I haven't been to a zoo in years. In fact I only have two memories of ever going to a zoo. Both are extremely fond. My earliest zoo memory involves giraffes and sex. I was witness to a shocking display of one giraffe straight pounding another from behind. Parents watched in horror while desperately running to shield their children's eyes. Even at the tender age of 9, I found it amusing and still to this day have the image burned in my brain. The giraffe had the largest equipment I have ever seen. Evidentially, their necks are not the only thing that is super long and skinny. I will never look at giraffes the same again.

My next visit to a zoo occurred when I was 16. I was in Germany for an exchange program and we went on a field trip to the Berlin zoo. In typical German style, the zoo was filled with beer gardens. Me being a 16 year old American girl unleashed in a country where drinking at 16 is legal, I think you know where I spent my day. I don't even think I saw any animals that day. They did, however, have a huge bouncy trampoline that I thoroughly enjoyed in my drunken bliss.

I decided maybe it was time to visit a zoo again, a visit that doesn't include sex or alcohol. The Korat zoo is located directly outside the city center. It is a huge plot holding many animals, restaurants, and even a full blown water park. We took a songtheow from the mall and paid the 100 baht teacher reduced entrance fee.
Tip of the day: if you find yourself in Thailand and you wish to go to a tourist site there is almost always a tourist and a local price. If you are white you will pay the tourist rate. If you tell them you are "Ben kru", meaning teacher, you will almost always get the local rate. There is an off chance they may ask for your work permit but just say you don't have it with you. It would be rare for a Thai to "loose face" and deny you, but even if it doesn't work at least you tried. No harm done.

The Korat zoo proudly boasts on their website that they have the "Big 5". Incase you are not familiar with African Safari animals the big 5 consists of elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo, and leopard. I once worked for a travel company that sold African tours. I had a caller ask me if the tour included seeing the Big 5....I responded "the sports store?". Ignorance is bliss.

All in all we had an awesome day at the zoo. We got lucky and saw some animals up and moving and not just lazing around. We even saw a seal show. It was good times and I highly recommend the Korat zoo as a great cheap way to spend a few hours.

The zoo is so massive, they offer bike or golf cart rental to get around. We choose golf cart

The zoo is so massive, they offer bike or golf cart rental to get around. We choose golf cart

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Elephants....way more happy then the ones I see wandering the streets of Korat

Elephants....way more happy then the ones I see wandering the streets of Korat

PG giraffes....just eating

PG giraffes....just eating


Borrriinnggg

Borrriinnggg

"Should I go in?"

"Should I go in?"

Yup!

Yup!

They had reindeer roaming around. They were so friendly and they loved being fed

They had reindeer roaming around. They were so friendly and they loved being fed

the Thai Blackbear....it's a thing

the Thai Blackbear....it's a thing

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Posted by inbetweendreams 21:00 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Sunflowers and villas

I found this picture on google and immediately decided that i needed to ride an elephant in a sunflower field.

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Any ole tourist can ride an elephant in Chaing Mai, but I wanted to ride one during full blossom with serene mountains painting the backdrop. Sunflowers are my favorite flower, while living in California, I used to buy them every Wednesday at the farmers market in Santa Monica. After careful research, I discovered that peak sunflower bloom is from November to January and the best fields are located 2 hours from where I live. Score!

We arrived at our resort in Saraburi, the Baan Souchada, and were so impressed we couldn't drag ourselves away. They upgraded us to a private pool villa, and it literally blew me away. The decor was exquisite, every tiny detail was addressed to ensure maximum comfort and luxury. From the moment I slipped into the plush white robe, all visions of elephants and sunflowers disappeared. The 5 star resort is located off the beaten path on a beautiful property of mountains, gardens, and rice fields. Teaching all boys in a busy city like Korat can take its toll (who said living in Thailand was easy ha?), so it offered the peace and serenity I needed to truly unwind.

The resort

The resort

Private pool

Private pool

Main pool

Main pool

Relaxin

Relaxin

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No stone was left unturned. These were provided in the drawer. Classy

No stone was left unturned. These were provided in the drawer. Classy


The resort provided motorized bikes to get around

The resort provided motorized bikes to get around


Thais loved them

Thais loved them

Since we did not have a car, it was tough for us to really explore the area. Unfortunately, we weren't able to visit my dream field with elephants and lime stone rocks, but we were able to see some sunflowers in bloom. It was a much needed 3 day vacation. I highly recommend visiting either Saraburi or Lopburi province to view the sunflowers in bloom. There were fields everywhere.

Sunflowers!

Sunflowers!

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Posted by inbetweendreams 03:51 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Border Run

Shakedown street

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The dreaded border run. Thailand's visa laws are interesting and can be cumbersome to crack. Zach has a one year multi entry visa, but it requires him to leave the country every 90 days. Most Thai visas, even sometimes marriage visas, also require this. It's like the government really wants to test it's expats, how badly do you really want to stay in Thailand? We badly want to stay so we decided to take the bus to Cambodia so he can cross the border at Poipet and come right back to Thailand. The bus from Nakhon Ratchasima to Aran takes about 5 hours, and once we arrive he needs to buy a Cambodian visa and go through immigration, then take the 5 hour bus back. All this for another 90 days in glorious Thailand. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Because I have a work permit, my visa does not require me to do border runs. In fact, I actually can't even leave the country with out applying for a very expensive re entry permit, or it will make my visa void. Even though I can't enter Cambodia, I decided to go along for the ride. There is a huge market on the border on the Thai side so I planned to do some shopping while Zach takes care of business. I have the week off of school so why not right?

Bus to Cambodia

Bus to Cambodia

I figured the bus would be full of foreigners doing their visa runs, but we were the only white folk on board. I also thought the bus would be an express Korat to Cambodia, but it offered local service the whole way. We must have stopped nearly 50 times making pick ups and drop offs. There was also no bathroom on board so even though I was dying of thirst, my bladder couldn't afford to take more then a small sip here and there. 2 hours in I was painstakingly regretting my decision to come. Visions of cocktails and pool chairs back in Korat danced in my head. The things we do for love.

We arrived at the border market at 2 pm, and the last bus back to Korat left at 5 so we prayed there were no crowds of holiday travelers. It was weird seeing back packers and white people again, many of which making the journey to Angkor Wat. The border area was disgusting, dirty, seedy, poor, and insanely corrupt. You couldn't walk 2 feet without someone trying to get you to buy a fake visa or telling you a medical certificate is required so you should buy it from them. Our goal was to get Zach to the official visa line without being taken advantage of. Well that mission failed, he got whisked away into an unofficial visa office and before we knew what was happening his passport was being taken away. He ended up over paying for it but luckily it was legit.

The border

The border


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With the Cambodian visa stamped in his passport, it was time to split up while he made the official crossing. I reminded him not to give any money to anyone regardless of what they try to say the fee is for. He has his visa, there should be no more fees. I wandered around the market but found nothing of value. The whole place gave off a terrible vibe and instead I waited outside at the Border Hotel with a beer. Zach returned about a half hour later. He described for me the ordeal of the shakedown that had just taken place. When he entered Cambodia, there was a Cambodian cop who stopped him and told him he would be waiting for him on the other side of immigration. After being cleared, sure enough the cop was waiting for him and lead him to a small room in the back of immigration. There was another official in the room. The cop demanded Zach pay 500 baht since he was not staying over night in Cambodia. Zach thought of my words ( "do NOT pay anyone!!!") but understandably felt threatened by this authoritative figure and paid him the money. The cop then demanded that Zach tip him for "helping him out". There was no choice but to pay the man another 100 baht. He said that was acceptable and escorted him back to Thailand.
We were both tired and disgusted by the whole experience. The bus back was quicker because it didn't make as many stops. I have no desire to ever go back to that border and am actually a bit put off by Cambodia in general. In 90 days, we will definitely be flying somewhere for his next border run. Already excited to plan a mini vacay. Perhaps a few days in Malaysia. Stay tuned for border run number two.

Even the children are unhappy

Even the children are unhappy


Hell on earth

Hell on earth

Posted by inbetweendreams 22:44 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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