Post-trip depression syndrome (PTDS)! We coined this term recently but the feelings go back to the very beginning….
Do other Ghumakkars suffer from this too? It’s like, you are back from ‘there’ (that golden, gratifying somewhere) unpacking the bags; and your mind starts to get numb, weighted down by dark thoughts of the grind lying ahead (office /boss/college/teacher or whatever). That depressing WTF (Wednesday Thursday Friday) again feeling!!!!!
OK, for them who are prone to PTDS like us, Sharmi has divined a remedy – start dreaming about your next trip as soon as PTDS hits you. Just calm down and compose yourself, take out your secret map or guide book or internet saves or whatever; and tell yourself that the next trip is coming soon. Gradually, friends, you will notice the clattering mind settling down to its normal rhythm. But remember, lest the mind attains too much of normalcy, you have to keep the idea of next trip (‘even better than before’) alive ☺
We embarked on a repeat (or should we fondly say, return?) trip to Thailand this summer.
“Hey Auro, Why Thailand? Why again, I mean?”
Well! Blame it if you must, on the fantastic memories of our first trip to that country. It had to be done again; and not for the last time. Details of our last visit are posted here https://www.ghumakkar.com/self-drive-trip-across-thailand-7-days-2000-kms-part-1-dreams-delivered/.
Nothing much has changed since; the lovely people continue to offer charming smiles and warmth. Mouth watering food scene remains intact. Ah! One not-so-good change has been the (ex)change value of our Bhartiya Rupaye – it is 1.9 INR to a Thai Bhat /THB (almost double or half, depending on which end you are on – the selfie or the main!). And it pinches alright either way.
This time we were in a family group, comprising of eight members. And what a diverse group it was; eldest member (grandfather) was 75 years and the youngest one (grandchild) was 4 years old. Rest of us were in-betweens in varying —ies (thirties/forties/sixties). Needless to say, this ‘groupism’ enhanced the fun manifolds.
Plan for Cambodia was made much later. We had already bought flight tickets (Kolkata-Bangkok return, Indigo) and were finalising the Thai itinerary of 15 days. Then, thanks to Nandan Jha’s article https://www.ghumakkar.com/phnom-penh-cambodia-can-tho-vietnam-bus/ (and some ghumakkar.com / e-mail queries to him duly responded), I got this idea of covering the next country as well.
Before I churn more about the trip, let me again (as I did in my last articles) assure Ghumakkars that Thailand is extremely doable and an obvious destination specially for the first time international travelers. Do-ability is on both accounts; cultural and economical. Cultural, to be specific, covers all that we are usually apprehensive about (veg khana milega?, Indian restaurants hote hai ?, mausam theek-thak rahega ? et al).
Good news is that Thailand currently offers Free Visa to Indian tourists. In the current disposition, free Visa regime is on till 31 Aug 2017 (https://pixelvoyages.com/2017/05/03/free-tourist-visa-for-indians-more-reason-to-visit-thailand/)
1.Bangkok – A fun fact, apart from others which have been included in previous articles is that Bangkok was named the world’s most visited tourist destinations in 2016 –
These articles tell us that Bangkok trumps destinations like London, Paris, New York.
But these days of fake news and Trump-ed up claims, Put-in through disparate channels giving rise to so many May-be or may-be-not thoughts, one needs to repeatedly check, confirm and Modi-fy one’s opinion. Correct bola na, haan Xi? –) That’s why I place the url links wherever possible.
2.Hua Hin – Hua Hin is a coastal town south-west of Bangkok, popular with Bangkok weekenders. We chose Hua Hin due to its proximity to Bangkok and of course, the lesser ‘touristy’ tag it bears than better known, almost equidistant cousin Pattaya.
3.Angkor Wat / Siem Reap (Cambodia) – Siem Reap is located in the western part of Cambodia and is famous for Angkor Wat temple complex, a UN World Heritage site and the biggest Hindu temple complex in the world.
Bangkok to Cambodia (and back) by Bus
This was a revelation. Yes, direct buses connect Bangkok to Siem Reap (and also some more destinations in Cambodia and other neighbouring countries). It means that you can cover both the countries in one go. There are two options, of course to avail this. First; land in Bangkok, do Bangkok to Cambodia bus to and fro, return Bangkok and get onto your India – Bangkok return flight. Second; land in Bangkok, do bus trip to Cambodia and take return flight from Cambodian destination. However, first option is economically more viable since Bangkok return airfares are one of the cheapest international fares from many of our cities.
Journey of this unwieldy group started on a Kolkata – Bangkok Indigo flight. Travel time is 2 hrs 20 min. About the same time as it would take to reach Mumbai if the plane flew in wrong direction.
The gang arrives at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok at around 1500 hrs local time. There is a van (pre-booked, with driver; no self-drive this time) waiting for us, which takes us to Hua Hin, some 4 hours drive from the airport.
After spending 3 days in Hua Hin, we shift to Bangkok. Stay is in a lovely house (thanks to Airbnb) located in a very local area.
Thereon, we take a bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap (Cambodia). Bus ride is some 8 hours affair moving east of Bangkok, crossing the Int’l boundary and entering the next country, Cambodia.
Enjoy 5-6 days in Cambodia, and then take the bus back to Bangkok. Two more days in Bangkok, then fly back to Kolkata on return trip.
At the cost of being repetitive let me say again what I said in my previous trip posts – Thai prices are very reasonable and almost comparable to our own prices. Thai hotel/stays and street food costs are in fact a tad lower. And Cambodia is even lesser than Thailand. So, in effect a visit/ stay in that part of the world vis-à-vis a trip to desi destination entails just the addition of airfare.
Another aspect is that a trip planned by you will be much cheaper and revealing and enjoyable, than going for the tourist packages. Will give a break-up of major expenses in Part II.
First Thai Visa – As I mentioned earlier, THAI VISA IS COMING FREE. That is, free scheme is applicable to SINGLE ENTRY TOURIST VISA variety. And there is a caveat – if you opt for Visa on Arrival (VOA), you end up paying THB 1000 (approx INR 2000/-). So the best option is to get the Visa the traditional way – go to the embassy, apply for and receive it (they have a courier option, as well as tour agents getting your visa – therefore you don’t have to go to the embassy necessarily).
Cambodia Visa – As we went from Thailand to Cambodia, we needed Cambodian visa to enter that country. Good story is that Cambodia offers E-Visa (an online Visa, obtained sitting at home). E-Visa is priced at USD 36, available on their official website https://www.evisa.gov.kh/ and it is totally hassle free. You need to log-in, fill all the details including photograph (scanned pics not allowed), pay-up; and you will get a printable visa on your e-mail well before their stated time of 5 working days.
Second Thai Visa – So we exited Thailand and entered Cambodia. Now, on our way back (return entry into Thailand), we needed to get Thai visa afresh (remember, initial Thai Visa was a single entry visa which was exhausted once we moved out of Thailand into Cambodia). That’s when we availed VOA on Thai/Cambodia check post. And one needs to be prepared for this. Some good info about the cross-over business for tourists is to be found here http://www.movetocambodia.com/transportation/crossing-the-poipetaranyaprathet-border-overland/.
Keep travelling and thus remain amazed !!!