Well the 5 star luxury holiday is over, Gan Gan has sadly gone home and we are back to our miserly £20 a day budget. I have found there are not many infinity pools and walk in showers you can get for that price. Back to Mrs Chang's Economy Guest House and a shared bowl of watery coconut soup.
Fern's day started with a disappointment when she discovered she hadn't won the recent Glasgow Herald's short story competition and therefore must be as mediocre a writer as her mother. I tried to console her and as I had written most of her story anyway, shouldered the lion's share of the blame. The minute Gan Gan left they started knocking lumps out each other again which was annoying as she had spent the entire holiday saying how well behaved they were. Clover was put in one bedroom, fuming but still clutching a handful of Fern's hair. Fern had a mysterious bite on her left arm and was indignantly shoved into the other bedroom while we did the final packing. Eventually we regrouped and left our gorgeous suite hotel and headed to Bangkok train station to catch the 1pm to Cambodia. Turns out it only goes as far as the border, a casino town basically called 'Poppet' where we will stay tonight before gatecrashing my cousin's pad in Phnom Penh where he had the decency to get a job, an apartment and locate the best bars just in time for our arrival. He also hangs about with the British Ambassador so if things don't work out with Rufus, at least there are other options. Having seen how the Diplomats lived in Kathmandu and the beauty of British Embassies around the world, I'm keeping my eye on the prize.
The train was pretty HRNDS. Tiny little berths with four small seats crammed together, each with no knee space and less padding than a pantyliner. We were squeezed in with 1000 school children yabbering away and fat women selling bizarre food from giant wicker baskets the size of satellite dishes. Despite beautiful, flat Thai countryside we bickered most of the way, Clover managed to get herself absolutely filthy, Fern read an entire book but complained of travel sickness every few minutes and the guard beamed at us as he explained regularly the train was delayed. Our five hour journey had turned into six and a half thus ruining our chances of a decent meal with a glass of Rohypnol with ice at a nice local hotel. Rufus and I began arguing as I had wanted to get a taxi at the border straight to Poipet, but as darkness fell he felt it was more appropriate to find a place to stay - anywhere still in Thailand - and negotiate border control (allegedly a nightmare) in the morning. He really wasn't up to an expensive but illegal fake medical involving an internal examination, theft of all his electrical belongings, corruption and extortion before dinner. I wanted to give it a go. Am still pretty sure I can charm some bored guards with my unique blend of teeth/cleavage flashing and some light-hearted questions about their lives and families. Eventually we arrived at the final station tired and hungry but I won the argument and we headed off to be abused by border control. It was a strange and sinister experience. The flirting wasn't appreciated... 'But Officer......', we were fleeced by two 'helpers' who filled in immigration forms for us and then charged for it. An 800m walk across the border in the pitch black carrying our heavy bags and both children, and then fleeced again by a weirdo who took us to the worst hotel imaginable where we unfortunately had to stay the night. The border town was a bloody awful place that looked like the Wild West - our hotel had a 'NO GUNS' sign in the lobby. Totally freaked out. Washed our hair in cold water and then went out for a quick meal of chicken claws and beer. Up hideously early the next day for another HRNDS 10 hour bus journey to Phnom Penh which I spent with a splitting headache and chaotic thoughts. We did pass through comedy towns though called 'Pray Nob' and 'Pray Piss'. That sure brightened the mood. We've arrived though, and Phnom Penh looks beautiful from where I'm sitting. It's practically Paris.
My poor dad starts another 9 weeks of chemotherapy next week - sending our love and sympathy to both parents for the next nightmare that lies ahead xx.