For our last day in Thailand, Natalie had found an animal sanctuary online (with photos of an actual elephant!) that wanted volunteers! So after a late breakfast we hopped on a communal taxi halfway back to the pier and walked a km inland to the home of ‘Dr Lisa’.
We were greeted by a few cats, a scared dog and a fluffy dog as well as our host who was originally from the States. She was lovely but sadly was in the midst of a family crisis so was a bit busy and distracted. No worries though we thought! We would be busy feeding and playing with Nellie who was surely hiding under the table... Sadly the only real job she had (as it was hardly a ‘sanctuary’ and more of a garden full of cats) was to give her overly fluffy dog ‘Sunbright’ a haircut.
Sunbright was young, extremely stupid but adorable. He enjoyed his haircut despite jumping off the table and trying to strangle himself several times... Incomprehensible that he was beaten as a pup before being taken in. Interestingly behind the house was a cage with 2 monkeys who seemed quite happy. After sorting out some antibiotics into piles we bid our farewells before lunch in a cool art cafe and returning to the hotel for pool time. Natalie unfortunately was going down with the flu so went to bed very early.
Cambodia is known as the Wild West of SE Asia. Ok so it isn’t really but after years of the french, followed by civil war, Pol Pot’s idiotic dictatorship and on going corruption Cambodia is light years behind even its war torn troubled neighbours! A must on anyone’s holiday list.
The next day we were up at the crack of dawn to get breakfast and go to Cambodia!! The land border crossings are infamous amongst travellers for scams and corrupt officials so we were ready for a challenge. The first minibus and ferry was a dream. At the border it all went a bit south however. We had adopted an American girl who was also heading in our direction and so the 3 of us walked across to Cambodia where many helpful locals offered to relieve us of our tickets, bags and passports to help us through immigration. We side stepped ‘quarantine’ which is a scam that helpfully takes some money from you to fill out an unofficial questionnaire. We were asked to hand over our bus ticket a few times to some men dressed casually but declined as we would give it to the bus driver... After eventually going past a police check (who did not like the look of Natalie and her passport and so took it back to the office to ‘check’ something) we went to find our bus! But there was no bus... ?&£#!! Had we been fleeced already?!
Off we wandered to a hotel for wifi before some other bloke came to fetch us in his 4x4 and said he really did work for the bus company and to go with him to town as the bus had already left... With no other leads we thought perhaps we should just get in the car with this stranger. Long story short what followed was his car for 10 minutes, another car for 3 hours (with flat tyre) and the most cramped minivan ever in a thunderstorm (at one point a boy was sat on a scooter on the tail gate under the bags...) Eventually we waded through flood roads, past a man on the floor after a car accident (Nat thinks he may have expired) and to our hotel (complete with cockroaches)! Silver lining a) we made it safely after some proper travelling b) we found the best pizza so far made in a Tuk Tuk pizza oven!
We’ve often heard that Cambodia always starts off in a mess but always gets better. Tomorrow is the Marriott and we can’t wait!