Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Battambang

Visa

Can't tell you how happy I was to see this in the passport. A one-year multiple-entry retirement visa. Haway the lads!! It's mind boggling that Thailand is so hostile while Cambodia rolls out a red carpet.

No 90day reports, no TM30s, no border bounces, no waiting for hours in immigration - ever, no landlords involved, no spirit-crushing jobs, no financial obligations.

Simply pay $300. Forget about it. Enjoy life in the tropics. 12 months later, pay again. Simple. Sabai sabai (Khmer style).

After my latest dealings with Thai immigration I'm sat here thinking I should've jumped ship earlier.


Bus

It's not all piss-easy visas and sabai-sabai. The 290km from Phnom Penh to Battambang took a staggering 10hrs. To put that in perspective, Newcastle to Liverpool is 280km. Takes about 3hrs.

Why so long? Well, the shitty roads, stupid. That's why. Although they're better than they were in 2007 they're still African-esque. I was cycling through remote rice fields in HangDong last month on waaay better roads.

Here's an inequation:


Thailand's shittiest rural roads > Cambodia's main trunk roads.


Sad but true. Was reminded of my tortuous motorbike trip through Laos in 2013. Anyhow, it wasn't all bad. KongDarin and I got to refine our language skills. Khmer for me, English for he. He's as sharp as a tack at 73! We had the front seats, affording glorious views of rice fields, tractor rear-ends and immense clouds of road-dust.
Dust

In galactic terms
nebula are huge interstellar clouds of dust that coalesce to form new stars. According to NASA the Battambang Nebula will form a red dwarf by 2150 thus forging a binary star system at the heart of our solar system.

Why so much dust in Battambang? Well, the shitty roads, stupid. For some reason (cough .... $$$$$) the civil engineers decided to not tarmac the entire width of the single-carriage roads, leaving two dusty strips either side. This kicks up cubic-kilometers of dust that seems to get everywhere - particularly the eyes, nose and throat.

Rooms

After travelling at an average speed of 29km/h for 10hrs (Usain Bolt can run at 44km/h) I was happy to see JingSong, the owner of PorChey Guesthouse, waiting at Battambang's salubrious bus station.

First thing I told him was the journey would've taken 3hrs on my CBR500 in Thailand. He shrugged. 
I paid him $210 for 39 nights since the more permanent $120/month bed-n-bog apartment I'd arranged by email had been let out to a French couple.

"But, muh email?" I whinged.
"We velly solly." they placated.

I paid a $120 deposit to secure it and move in Xmas Eve. So, JingSong's stuck with me until then. We get on like a house on fire. I looked at other places, some as low as $80, but fancied a bit of luxury this time around. I met a 72yo Italian dude who was moving from a $90/month room to a $30/month room. Basically, a corrugated-iron garden shed. That $60 saved is 120 glasses of beer each month. He's well happy. I still love the characters you meet out here after 14 years. Some of em are mint.

Bike

So after selling the CBR500 it was time for pedal-power. Especially after that young Swedish bird said "How dare you?"

$40 gets you a bike with no gears. But I wanted a basket and gears. So $60. And here it is having its pedals replaced a day later.

"Why are the pedals so crap?" I whinged.
"China." they placated.
"Fair enough." nodding knowingly.

$3 doon the shitter. Or 6 beers in Cambo money.

BB

I'm not gonna lie. Like its roads, Battambang is rough around the edges. It wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea. However, it's managed to retain a certain colonial charm. It's laid back, peaceful and as cheap-as-chips if one's prepared to go local.

I saw much progress in Thailand between 2006-2019. It truly feels like a fully developed nation in these contemporary times. In contrast, Cambodia has a third world feel about it. UN data supports this.

Doesn't really bother me though - I like the wild west 'frontier' feel about it. Cycling aimlessly around town, stopping for the odd coconut ..... sure feels like paradise to me.
I opened a bank account and immediately shat $70 transferring my modest funds from Thailand. I hate banks. Buy Bitcoin. Found a gym for $0.40 - has everything. Got a haircut for $1.25. Eat substantial breakfasts at Dara's place each morning for $1. Gorge on pork baguettes for $1.50 - can't tell you how good they are.

Lingo's coming on slower than I'd like leaving me frustrated. However, I should remember, my Thai was rubbish for the first few years. Patience Daniel-san.

Spoke to a small educational outfit who asked me to teach maths, electronics and robotics part-time. Looking into it.

All in all, a good move. Enjoying myself. I was fearful of leaving Thailand as I'd become comfortably entrenched there. However, just like 2006, I needed to get out of my comfort zone. Splash some cold water on my face. I'll leave you with this from Roosevelt:

There's nothing to fear but fear itself

1 comment:

  1. Transferwise for bank transfers. MUCH cheaper

    ReplyDelete

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