Planes, Tains and Dirty Busses!
- hello everyone,We are in Sydney Airport getting ready to leave for New Zealand. We have been here in Aussie for 3 weeks, and covered Much of the East Coast. (about 5000 km - 3000miles) to be exact. we spend 2 weeks making our way north, stopping at National Parks, Beaches, Caves, aything that looked interesing based on road signs and the Lonely Planet guide. We finally made it up to the Great BArrior Reef where we spent 3 days and nights on a boat. Scott and I each got 10 dives in including 2 night dives ( a first for both of us) the only way to discribe the experience was to put yourself in the middle of the most beautiful aqauarium you've evver seen! We swam along side giant sea turtles, through a school of about 50 squid, with sting rays, zillions of different fish (some of the huge!) and 2 sharks up close and a little too personal on one of the night dives - had to check the wet suit after that one!!! tons of colorful coral, crabs, sea cucumbers, - too much to remember! We got to the Watch the Superbowl Live (at 10am Monday morning) from a beach bar- it was about 100 deg. that day, not normal footbal weather, but not so bad looking at the water during that sad halftime show. we were the ONLY Pats fans (of course there were only about 10 people there total) we then headed south stopping at some of the most amazing beaches you've ever seen, great wineries, and made it to the Blue Mountains (similar to G. Canyon - not as big) and to Sydney. Spent a day checking out the opera house, Sydney harbor bridge, Olympic Park and all the sites and sounds of the big city!Because we've spent so much time on the water and in the Hinterlands (just east of where the outback officially begins - not much out there!) we've barley had internet access. I'm so sorry for how delinquent I've been in updating you all! - I've been keeping a written journal, and have a few minutes now to enter in one of the funnier entries. (i'll enter more later, even if I have to do it after I get home) Its fairly long, so enjoy it if you want, or feel free to delete if youre sick of hearing that its hot and sunny here! (sorry Northeast...heheh)This is an old entry from Cambodia Jan 17.Today has been one of the funniest - most "Africa" days so far. We had plane tickets back to Bankok from Pnom Pehn that were included in our airfare. But we learned you can travel from where we were in Siem Reap to Bankok for only $10 by bus. We were told it was the worst road in Cambodia and possibly all of SE Asia, we figured how bad can it be, and besides, I think that was some of the draw. We went to the ticket office/shoe shine shop/noodle restaraunt, and asked about the trip. Because we had been so accustomed to the communication/translation gap, we were very specific with yes/no questions and only one at a time. How many seats? -25. Is there air conditioning- yes. (the picture showed a Greyhound looking bus) how many people are booked -4. 4 seats taken? yes, Wow, we were pleasantly surprised to see that not only were there not more people than seats, but that the bus was almost empty, and it leaves first thing in the morning.. this is looking good. How long will it take? - 8 hours. Wow, this is looking great!!! We thought how bad can this be? it will take us 8 hours, we are leaving at 7:30 this will get us in at 3:30. this is great, it will still be daylight, and we dont have anywhere yet to stay. this is perfect. If we fly, we need to take a 7 hour bus to Pnom Pehn, then a taxi to the airport, then the flight wont get us in until 11:30pm, then we'll need a tuk tuk (3 wheeled motorcycle taxi) to take us to find a place to stay. The bus is def. the way to go! We got picked up at our backpackers hostel at 7am the next moring, and we were dropped at the bus depot, which I think was really just someones house. We waited for 2 hours, but it was ok, there was a nice Irish couple we talked to, they were finishing off a year long trip and were very funny. I asked for the toilet, and this man laughed at me and continued weaving his new roof (of Banana and palm leaves). Guess I'll hold it. Finally the bus showed up, it was a decrepid looking medium sized bus that didnt look like it would get down the walkway, never mind to another country. Anyway, people started to get nervous when we counted 21 passengers, 2 "crew" and only 17 seats. People were getting annoyed thinking we were going to have to wait 2 more hours for another bus. My Africa days somehow told me we wouldnt be waiting, this was our charriot to Cambodia! The woman with the Lous Vitton hat and tons of makup didnt look pleased.- idiot. Anyhow we crammed people and backpacks into any crevis they would fit into, (Scott and I jumped on QUICK, those that thought surely we couldnt be taking THIS bus, and hesitated, got the worst seats - 3 people in 2 seats or on top of a backpack). the little Cambodian guy whose job it was to hold the door closed hopped up on the backpacks, tied the door shut with a piece of string and relaxed on the bags. Scott asked if the AC worked, and was told "oh no, it broke yesterday". The AC vents were so caked full with thick red dirt, that it was obvious there was no way any air came out of those in at least the last few years..... and so we began. I cannot imagine the last time it may have rained here, because everything, the ground, trees, houses cows, busses, children, everything, was caked with a thick red crusty dirt coating. The palm trees were not even green, they were red. We started to bounce away with the windows wide open, for it was as hot as the hottest Aug day back home, and the AC just broke yesterday - what a bummer! It wasnt long before we were made fully aware of why they said the road to the Thai border is the worst in Cambodia. We were lucky that our madman driver knew how to negotiate turns, gullys, and VW-sized potholes with such finesse, that he didnt find it at all necissary to slow down. Its a good thing the embankments on the sides if this narrow road are only a few feet down, I figured a roll down surely wouldnt mean death, maybe just minor injury, and even then, pray you dont need med. attention - it doesnt exsist in this country!!! Once we really got going, and left any traces of pavement, we learned how difficult breathing was going to be for the next however many hours. The dust began to pour in the windows, such that it was hard to see the other side of the bus. It got so bad, that the driver would yell to close all the windows any rim he saw another vehicle. I had mine open a crack, but had to slam it shut every minute or so to avoid a major dust bomb if we hit a particularly big pothole or a another vehicle came towards us.) the heat was so stifling, we wondered which was the lesser of two evils. This became my full time job on the bus, open a crack, slam shut, open a crack, slam shut! Anyway, when we were all ordered to shut our wondows, I looked around and burst out laughing, the bus looked like a fish tank filled with flying red dirt, it was running down the insides of the windows! Louis Vitton was not happy, she kept yelling in her Italian/English, "this is not possible to ride like this to Thailand". Everyone just ignored her, we were concentrating on trying to breath. We heard a thud and a yell from the back, a backpack had bounced off the ceiling-high pile and onto someone's head. I dont know how these locals survive, everything is covered in dirt! including the air! The bridges were the worst. I was on the window side and could see that down below, there were sections of the bridges missing, I'd look down the bus and see the little red river below us. I could see that there were sections where the dirt road shouldve met the wooden bridge, but it didnt, there was space, or that some of the wooden planks themselves were missing. Scott told me not to look, but I couldnt help it. this is where I began to plot what I'd grab onto to avoid being at the bottom of the people/luggage pile should this bus topple over. Scott and I were really acctually amused by all this, thats how ridiculous it was, it would've been much better if we could have breathed. Everyone's hair is red! I looked over at scott, his facial har, eyebrows, even his eyelashes and inside his ears were cacked, literally caked with thick red dirt! I couldnt stop laughing. The first time the driver pulled a sharp left turn off the road to apparently nowhere, we were surprised, but soon learned that at many points the road was so bad, that driving into the rice paddy was much smoother. I'd imagine the farmers were not amused. Each time the buss veared off, and the time we saw a big timber truck sideways off one of those half-there bridges, I was excited about the prospect of a smooth rice paddy ride for a few minutes. This went on for 12 hours. (so much for getting to Bankok before dark) The boarder crossing was surprisingly easy, no bribery requests, not too much harrasment, and there were food stalls! A new minibus, (with AC) came to pick us up and stopped at a 7/11 with a sink and running water! I soaked my face and used every baby wipe I had to clean out my ears and nose, and washed some of the dirt from my head. The rest of the ride was smooth sailing and we arrived at Koasan Rd (Bankok's backpackers mecca) 2 hours later and got a room based on asking whether or not the water was working. This place was a real dive, but it had a bed (which we covered before sleeping on it) a cold shower (pipe sticking out of the wall - Many Asians are a lot shorter than us, and poor Scott conked his head pretty good on the shower/pipe.) The room smelled, and came with a leach in the bathroom. We named him Wally. Poor Wally was dead in the morning, maybe it was too much red dirt.
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