Getting from Thailand to Cambodia on a Budget

When you’re on a budget you sometimes have to do what’s less convenient to stretch your dollar. Thankfully for us we already had this mentality back home. We split most meals, and when we get the opportunity to go to an airport lounge (thanks to our awesome credit card that gives us access) you know I’m stocking my backpack with any snack I can bring with me! Free bottles of water in the room – bring them with! We even go out of our way to ask random backpackers to share a taxi in order to save money. And, of course, you have to barter in order to try to get the best deal.

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Our groovy retro van transfer

The journey from Thailand to Cambodia was a long one. Sure we could have flown, but what would be the fun in that?! We did it because it only cost $24 for all our transportation from Koh Samui to Bangkok! That also means saving a night in a hotel since it was overnight. Our journey started at noon with a retro looking shuttle that took us from our Bungalow to the ferry.

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Fresh seafood for sale

We had to wait over an hour for the ferry and I was craving a sandwich.   I tried to ask a Thai person where to get a sandwich, they couldn’t understand. I even said you know bread, meat… no response. To which I just said food, and he pointed me to left. The language barrier is so hard sometimes. But I am a lazy American and I know no Thai so it’s also my own fault. We’re very fortunate so many people speak English. I walked a block down past trays of fresh fish, crab and shrimp. Normally I would opt for this meal if I had a place to cook it! Finally I found a restaurant that sold a baguette salami sandwich. It was good, but only had about 2 slices of salami. They never have enough meat on there sandwiches here. I miss Subway.

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Not a bad view from the ferry 

The ferry from Koh Samui island to the main land was only about an hour and was smooth sailing. We even squeezed in a game of cribbage, which I won 🙂 Than we boarded an hour long bus ride to Surat Thani. We decided to sit in the back for more leg room. So did this German man who was about 7 feet tall! He was talking to Rob about how he is a doctor and there is a girl he knows that is back on the island and cannot get the medicine needed to fix her condition, and he kept saying how easy fix it was and how slow the hospitals are. It was heartbreaking. Next we waited an hour for the big bus ride. Here we met a really nice guy from Netherlands from the town of Gouda -where the cheese was made! We were reminiscing about our journey in Thailand. A common saying in Thailand is “same same but different.” For example if you are asking if something is a real ray bands they would reply “same same but different.” A really confusing saying, I know. It makes traveling around quite challenging. We ordered fried rice and doused it in our favorite chili sauce before departing.

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The double-decker bus we rode for 10 hours

It was time to board the 10 hour bus ride. We were happy that the bus wasn’t full, and bonus – it had wifi! We immediately started watching The Bachelor. It didn’t work perfectly, but I was just happy to get caught up! All of a sudden we heard the Thai lady working on the bus start yelling “no smoking! no smoking!” Turned out there was a guy smoking in the bathroom. Really? He couldn’t wait a few hours for the first stop? It is amazing to me how many people smoke like a chimney here. The lady locked the bathroom after that, so that was fun having to hold it until the first stop. I was also worried about the bus leaving without me since there is no communication of how long the stop was for. Rob had to use a toilet with hole in the ground for the first time so that was a new experience for him. There is no toilet paper as usual, thankfully I come prepared with Kleenex on me at all times! At the second stop the bus fills up completely. Everyone leans their seats back so space is tight. It’s dark now so we try to sleep. The bus is so bumpy and hot. I curl up into a ball, put on my eye mask and try to sleep best I can. When we arrive to Bangkok it’s 6:00 a.m., pitch dark and taxi drivers are surrounding the bus begging for business. An old Thai man approaches me as Rob gets our bags. He asks where we’re going. I point to Rob and say, “I don’t know I’m waiting for him.” He asks for his name, after I give it to him he starts shouting “Rob! Rob!” Ugh shoot me now, it’s too early for this. We start bartering with him and were able to get him to cut the price in half from what he originally said – about $18 to go about a half hour to the airport. Things are more expensive in the big city. After long security and immigration lines we finally relax in the lounge. We decide to go to the KLM lounge in search for Western food. I got so excited when I saw what I thought was mac and cheese, turns out it was just scrambled eggs:( I indulged in pastries, pumpkin soup, and ended up eating more Asian food including Chinese steamed meat buns and noodles 🙂 If you can’t tell yet I love food! I of course stocked up on chips, peanuts, and water bottles for the trip ahead. I spent the 4 hour wait doing travel agent research and working on our blog while Rob caught up on sleep. To be fare he wasn’t feeling good.

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We boarded the small plane, similar to the 75 seat planes I used to work on as a flight attendant. On these planes back home we would have 2 flights attendants. This one had 6! They asked to see my seat assignment 3 times, as if I didn’t know how to find my seat! It was only a 45 minute flight, and in that time they managed to serve everyone drinks and meals! Back home if the flight is less than 30 minutes you don’t even serve drinks to put it in perspective. The meal was cold chicken with a sweet dipping sauce, sticky rice, some weird cold seafood salad, and carrot cake. We met a nice lady from India next to us who gave us her contact information for when we plan to visit. Gotta love connections 🙂 And 18 hours later we finally land in Cambodia! I am happy to discover they use the American dollar here – no more converting from Bahts to dollars in my head! After getting our visa and clearing immigration we went to find transportation to our hotel. A group of 3 girls asked where we were going, and it turns out one of the girls was staying at the same hostel as us so we decided to share a $7 car. We were happy to see the prices here are lower than Thailand, and the hostel was only 5 minutes away. We finally made it!