Let’s see if I can put today into words…so today started at 3:20 a.m. when we woke up to get ready to board the van from Phnom Penh to Bangkok. I walked in the bathroom and immediately slipped on the wet floor, under a spot where the people in the hotel room above us had apparently had a bathtub overflow. (Huge wet spot and massive dripping.) Nearly did the splits, but was saved by my left knee hitting the wall and taking the brunt of the fall. The good news is, the ensuing scream woke up the kids, who needed to get up anyway. We grabbed a tuk-tuk and headed down to the station, only to arrive to a pitch black street. Our awesome driver offered to call the company, and roused someone who opened up the waiting area for us. At this point it was 4:30, and we were supposed to depart at 5:00.
When 5:00 came and went we went to the desk to ask where our van was, and the attendant called the driver. After handing the phone over, we discovered the driver had decided to leave an hour later, at 6:00. We had no choice but to wait, but it was okay because we were entertained by the *multiple* giant rats racing through the station. Yes, rats. They seemed to be right at home in the filthy and foul-smelling place.
Upon boarding the van at 6:00, we all thought we’d be getting to sleep, but the road was so insanely bumpy that there was no way to rest your head for long without risk of it bouncing off the surface and resulting in a concussion. The van stopped approximately once an hour until we arrived at the Cambodia/Thailand border, where we grabbed all of our luggage and got tags to use to get back on another van after we walked to the other side of the border.
Crossing the border consisted of walking in blistering heat for what felt like a mile, filling out departure cards for six people and arrival cards for six people, getting our pictures taken and passports examined carefully, and finally stepping back onto Thai soil!
After this we had another four hours of driving on much smoother roads. Bubba and I were told to sit up front with the driver, where he was enthralled with the freeway scenes flashing before us. “It’s so beautiful, Mommy!” When we were roughly an hour outside of Bangkok he started saying his feet were hurting badly, which always means his juvenile arthritis is flaring up. We weren’t able to give him medicine until we arrived in Bangkok, and he hurt the whole way to the hotel. We were able to ride the sky train for a little bit and then walked several blocks.
The hotel. First of all, when we finally reached it we weren’t even sure we were in the right place. There was no signage inside the lobby and no one at the receptionist desk. Ethan called the phone number for the hotel and it was finally picked up. He spoke with someone , first in English, then in Thai, before being hung up on. Thankfully a young Indian man came in shortly thereafter and told us to wait ten minutes and someone would help us.
Lo and behold, that someone ended up being an 84-year-old Indian man. He moved…well, like an 84-year-old man as he took us up to see the room. This room would not win any awards for cleanliness and I’m glad I don’t own a blacklight. I don’t want to know. The girls are afraid to open the closet doors for fear that they may find a dead body, but they’re teenagers so this kind of dramatic talk is normal to us. It has enough beds for everyone to share, though, and for this we are grateful. While he was showing us the room the manager told us to avoid the doors that open to the balcony; the lock doesn’t work properly and he’s had to make his own because someone “has broken in here before”. (Note: we’re on the seventh floor!)
It’s now 8:45 p.m. We are hungry and hoping there is something to eat within walking distance. But mostly we are so happy to be heading home, visas in hand. Missionary travel may not be glamorous, but at least it’s interesting!