26.07.2014 - 26.07.2014
The most daunting prospect when I started researching this trip was … visas. Requirements for official letters of invitation, confirmed bookings, return air tickets, covering letters from travel agents seemed to make an overland trip beyond reach. After having successfully gotten my Russian and Mongolian visas in Wellington, my Chinese visa in Chiang Mai, Laos visa on arrival, Vietnamese visa in Luang Prabang, I had only one left - Cambodia. This can also be bought on arrival. It was relatively straight forward apart from the $US10 overhead to the bus agent on top of the immigration cost. First time I have been stamped into a country in absentia.
The “bus” trip from Pakse, Laos to Siam Reap, Cambodia involved 5 contrasting vehicle changes - pickup in a ute, minivan to down near the border, an old bus to the border, walk across the border, an even older bus over an even rougher road to Stung Treng, a boat across the Mekong, finally a minivan over a brand new road. The last stretch was the easiest driving you’ll find in Asia - only an assortment of tractors and motorbikes here and there.
The boat across the Mekong was a vehicular ferry - a large barge for the vehicles tied by rope to a smaller boat. I think the boat operated by expiating loopholes in the laws of momentum. When it started, it strained its guts out and couldn’t move. It reminded me of the children’s story about the little train engine, “I think I can, I think I can”.