April 25th, 2014, 7:30 a.m., departure in Siem Reap, Camdodia. After spending 5 days in Cambodia and with many new, unexpected experiences in our backpacks, the BTO class entered the bus to cross into Thailand. As the majority had not been in Thailand yet, everybody was very excited to get acquainted with a new culture and a different landscape. Everyone used the 3-hour bus ride to the border in very different ways. While some got some deep sleep, others threw water in their faces. And while some read a romantic love story, others tried to process all the impressions they had collected so far.
200m before the border, we, including our luggage, got dropped off and were about to officially leave the country at the first – Cambodian – checkpoint. Even though the temperature seemed to be well above 50 degrees, the general mood was still relaxed and enthusiastic. While entering the hall of the second – Thai – checkpoint, moods drastically changed however. Besides us, about 200-300 other people, migrant workers, tourists etc., also intended to cross the border. Fortunately there was enough staff to smoothly handle the masses: 2 employees in total. Remember the oldschool Nokia game ‘Snake’? Try imagining how the snake fills up the whole screen; this was how the hall was filled. Every 10 minutes we could push our luggage 2-5m further. A pretty exhausting activity after a while. However, it was super interesting to actually observe all these people from different backgrounds, trying to figure out where they are from, listening in to some conversations and having little chats with the neighbors. After almost 2 hours, we finally collected some more stamps in our passport (which took only about 30 seconds…), left the building, and for the first time… put our feet on Thai ground. At the 7/11 store foreign clients even got a free coke with their purchase . Thanks 7/11, you know what we want (kop kun ka!!!).
In Thailand we were welcomed and picked up by representatives from the organization CBT-I and DASTA (Thailand Community Based Tourism Institute and Designated Areas for Sustainable Tourism Administration). In small vans driving insanely sporty (Question: “could you please drive a bit more slowly?” Answer: “you want to go to toilet?”), we saw the beautiful, green landscape and became even more curious what was going to come next! As we reached the beautiful nature based resort ‘Banpu Trat’, we were amazed. Yes, amazed is the right word. So much love was put into details – everybody felt super comfortable. This evening, CBTI/DASTA presented themselves and gave a little pre-taste of what we could expect the coming days.
Thank you CBTI and DASTA! Without you our Thailand experience would not have been so great and diversified! It was “really, really interesting and fun” 🙂
Written by: Mischi