27 Jan 2008
Trat, Thailand
12°14'30.91"N 102°30'44.92"E


You'd think a nightmare would end wouldn't you? You'd think losing two mobile phones in 24 hours was a record and would make sure another mobile wouldn't ever get lost again, wouldn't you? You'd think a black eye would go yellow and then go away without a problem wouldn't you? Wrong. On all counts.

If you read the original last week and haven't been back to read the updated version I uploaded a couple of days later (after I got the full version of what happened), check out here. Thank goodness we were heading out of Pattaya a few hours after it happened. It's incredible really. It's only the second time he's been out for a drink in almost 3 weeks - first time he loses my phone, second time he loses half his eyebrow. The photo on that page is the only one I'd have been able to get for almost two weeks. I patched it up as best as I could with Betadine and antiseptic cream, but wanted him to go to a doctor. Of course, he wouldn't.

Leaving Pattaya for Rayong was easy - get a local shared taxi (songthow) to Sukomvit Road (which goes from Bangkok all the way to the Cambodian border) for 10 baht each (not the 200 baht the taxi drivers ask from the dumb tourists) and 60 baht for the 2 hour trip to Rayong. We were in Rayong about 7 years ago, and we enjoyed it as much this time as we did last time. No tourists stay in Rayong - it's the point where you jump off the bus from Bangkok and jump straight onto the local taxi to Koh Samet, Full Moon Party Central - all backpackers and Ecstasy or crystal meth/ice. No thank you. That means the locals aren't jaded by westerners, are a bit curious as to why you want to be there and can't be helpful enough. And you know without doubt that they wouldn't dream of doubling the price just because you have round eyes.

On our second night in Rayong, he went out for a foot massage. Nice and relaxing for him, gave me time to catch up on some computer stuff. I was ready for bed about an hour after he got back. Clean teeth, bottle of water by the side of the bed and as we don't have clocks or watches, mobile phone.

D' oh!!

We had an internet connection, so I used Skype to dial the number. It was ringing, ringing, ringing - then eventually someone picked it up. Thai - no English. I told Peter to run back down to the massage parlor (it was about 5 minutes away from closing time, but fortunately very close by) and a girl was waiting for him on the doorstep with the phone in her hand when he got there. It had come out of his pocket and fallen down the side of the chair, which was why it rang for so long - they could hear it but couldn't find it. So, THREE mobiles phones in a week. Beat that. At least we got the last one back.

I wouldn't trust him with our dog.

And we haven't got one.

We were in Rayong for 2 whole days before my constant nagging paid off and he went to a clinic. By this time, one side of his face was tennis ball size. Infected. Badly. Cellulitus, whatever that may be, or at least that's what it sounded like. Apart from the antibiotics and anti-inflamitories, he was told to return daily to have the nurse change his dressing. For the first 3 days, it was so bad, I had to change the dressing in the morning as he didn't go to see the nurse until late afternoon. Let's just say it doesn't rate on the top 1,000 favourite jobs I've ever done. Then a couple of days later, it was more football than tennis ball sized, so the doctor changed his tablets and gave him a whole lot more extra ones. Almost back to normal now - the swelling is all but gone (this photo was taken today), but for the last few days since we left Rayong I've been cleaning it either once or twice a day, depending on whether it needs it. There is not enough money in the whole world that could convince me to clean snotty, gooey, yucky gunk out of wounds for a living. He owes me, big time. I really wanted him to go and see a nurse one more time before we go to Cambodia tomorrow - I think it's getting less yucky; I really do think it's getting better, but I'm not qualified to know if it's healing properly or not, and it's so deep it's hard to tell. We're not getting the bus until mid morning, so maybe I can persuade him to go to a clinic.

It did justify one thing though - we've been trying (and succeeding) to shed weight from our bags since we left Australia, but I've always insisted that we keep a full and comprehensive first aid kit, including sterile wound dressings, saline, alcohol-laced pre-injection swabs and post-op sticky pads. Don't think there willl be any further discussion on that particular subject.

Getting to Trat, our last bunny hop until we hit the Cambodian border, should have been easy, even though the new bus station is 1km out of town. There were 3 hotels and a handful of guesthouses in Trat. We wanted a hotel, all 3 of which were within 100 metres of the day market in the town centre. The taxi driver tried to rip us off on the price until he saw me trying to negotiate a lift with a couple of Germans heading for the Koh Chang - they could have dropped us off at the town town centre en route to the pier. His price dropped to a much more reasonable level, but he took us to Pop's Guest House - not the town centre as we'd asked. Apparently, about 90% of the taxi's are the same - Pop's seems to have the whole place sewn up, with almost all taxi's going there - with hindsight we should have kept our backsides on the seats and refused to alight or pay until he took us back to the town centre, but we'll know for next time something like this happens.

Even if it's a good place, I wouldn't stay on principal.

As it was, Peter checked out the rooms - I just couldn't be bothered and stayed outside with the bags. The rooms weren't up to standard and didn't have the satellite TV or cable TV or ADSL internet they advertised. Much better value elsewhere. If you ever come to Trat, DON'T stay at Pop's Guesthouse. They are unpleasant people and we've heard from several separate, independent people that they and their agents/touts can get, and have previously gotten, physically violent with their opposition. They have a magnificent and totally undeserved write up in the Lonely Planet guide. And the best place to stay in town doesn't even get a mention in the Lonely Planet - see here to read up on the excellent Residang Guesthouse. Sounds like something a bit odd going on, with Lonely Plantet, but who knows. Probably just lazy rather than corrupt.

Needless to say, I will be sending off an email to them, which may have been ignored under normal circumstances, but I know it won't be because Pop's is using Lonely Planets' logo (intellectual copyright) and saying there is a Lonely Planet Guarantee. No such thing. Apart from that, nobody should ever stay here because of the tactics they use to get people there. We specifically asked to be taken to the town centre/market. We passed it on the way to Pop's. Thankfully it wasn't a long walk. I'll even cc it to the Tourist Authority and the Tourist Police, because neither of those government agencies like it when tourists get pissed off about things that they are able to do something about. Everybody in town knows about it, but most are a bit scared and don't like to even talk about it. Not nice. I'm going to have a shot at bringing her down. Give me something to do. I love nothing more than writing officious letters to bureaucrats, although this won't be the same. I could never be condescending to government agencies who haven't done anything to me (and I'm not sure they would get it anyway as English isn't their first language), and it would be really unfair to go with my usual practice of making sure they would have to get the dictionary out for at least one word in every sentence. Still, I'm going to follow it through.

I love doing that. And putting bullies in their places. It'll give me something to do when we have no internet access, which may be regular for the next few weeks - don't worry if there aren't any updates for a while. We're going to a country where the border crossing guards hit you for a bribe before stamping your passport, so I doubt the infrastructure will be all that good. And no. I won't be paying any bribe. Last week I sent an email to every Cambodian embassy I could find an email address for in Australia, US, South America, UK, Germany, Thailand and I think Malaysia, the Prime Minister's office, the ministry of Immigration and the ministry of tourism asking what the exact fee is for a land border crossing and if there were any other charges levied for any reason. Was hoping to print off a reply to show a guard, but not one has responded. NOT ONE. I'm talking about 17 emails and not one single reply. I won't be letting that one go either. I'll write a letter to the editor of the Bangkok Post (it's about time they had a decent one instead of the mindless drivel they usually publish) and if there's an English language newspaper in Cambodia I'll write a letter to the editor there too, as well as bombarding complaints to various government departments until I get a response.

Geez, I'm gonna be a busy girl.