Seven hours later the bus pulled into a dark alley car-park on the outskirts of the town which, given the downpour, was a mudpit not unlike the ones I'd danced in up in Vang Vieng! After a good ten minute discussion with the tuktuk driver, involving me telling him the hotel I wanted to go to and him pretending he didn't know it and wanting to take me to another, I finally was on the way there. A girl I'd met in Vietnam was going to be there for the night so I went to where she was staying as she'd said how lovely it was. And it really was... four poster bed, cushions, wall hangings, internet, cable, hot shower, brekkie, free rides to town along the potholed muddy track ($7 a night!) We went to the local 'Pub Street' for street food, bumped into some of her friends and a couple from my bus, and before we knew it we were four beers down and it was 1am!
I had a well deserved lie-in the next day. It was nice for once knowing I had four nights in the same bed without any long bus journeys. In spite of the hotel manager trying to sell me an array of tours, I had a lazy day wandering around town, got a Thai massage, tried some more of the local cuisine, and planned my next days' excursion to the Angkor temples, starting at 4.30am!!! Was very lucky as that evening whilst I was interneting in the lobby a lovely girl called Amanda arrived and said she wanted to do the same temple trip as me so we decided to go along together (the manager seemed a bit put out at the fact we were then spliting the cost instead of going and paying individually).
Up bright and early we set out to watch the sun rise over Angkor Wat. I wouldn't say it was spectacular but it was nice to be out early and get lots of sight-seeing done in the cool morning. By 9.30 it was time for lunch!! It's difficult as there's lots of children trying to sell things, and they swarm around you, it's hard explaining that you just don't have the room to take so many things home! The temples were incredible, especially the 'Jungle temple' which was the set of Tomb Raider which was very cool. The heat made it quite tiring going around them all, particularly up and down all the teeny narrow steps, and by 2pm we were done, although we'd been keen to stay for sunset, and we opted to go home, getting sticky rice in bamboo along the way. Had a nap and chillaxed for the rest of the afternoon before going for a snack. We discovered a 2 for 1 cocktail place with free peanuts and popcorn, which made us very happy girlies. We met up later with Nihar and went out for a curry; Cambodian fish curry is delicious, I had at least three in the five days I was there.
Amanda and I decided to spend our last day shopping, stopping at noon for mango maragaritas with chips and salsa, then popping across the road for spring rolls and soup. Food, shopping, and then a Khmer massage, the best way to spend the day, rounded off with goodbye drinks and one last lap of the night market. The handbag I bought there literally jumped off the stall onto my arm!!
Packing once again, I left early for my bus across the border back into Thailand. It was an absolute shambles, not only did the driver scarily shout his head off at a passenger for no apparent reason just after I boarded, they'd also overbooked. All the luggage was piled up in the aisle, so people had to climb in and out the windows for toilet stops, and two poor fellas were stuck balancing on it at the front right by the dodgy doors which kept opening... for four hours. At the border there was even more of a palava as the driver just got off and lit up a cigarette, not making any attempt to get the bags out the way to let everyone out, so we ended up doing it ourselves. Getting through the border was time-consuming as they only had one desk open to stamp us into Thailand. Once on the other side the tuktuk drivers charged a fortune to get to the bus station, and when I got there I found I had to divert through a different province and couldn't go direct to Saraburi. After paying for the ticket I had all of 30b left, which was luckily exactly what the bus to Saraburi cost from there, phew!
Arrived back in Saraburi Sunday evening, just in time for one last night market, where I picked up some ugly but enduring rubbery pink flipflops and a pair of cheap sunnies. Monday was laundry day, during the process of which I got attacked by a swarm of big-ass wasps. Now it's Tuesday, and it's been one long day of goodbyes... first to the kids at school, which was sad, but at the same time fun checking out the names of the new P1 class: Website, PingPong, Title, Japan, Menu, and Mine, being some of the gems. Then to the clinic to say goodbye to Jeab, my Thai mum, and then dinner with the girls at 'steakhou', where I'd eaten my very first night way in Saraburi back in October...
Another chapter of my adventure done, another few hundred photos, a lot of food and beer consumed, and another round of goodbyes. Tomorrow I have a final splurge in Bangkok and a mission to eat as much mango and sticky rice as is humanly possible, then Malaysia here I come...