Trip To Cambodia

Trip Start Aug 30, 2007
Trip End Sep 30, 2008

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Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, September 25, 2007

We were up early (6.30am), showered and rushed to the bus depot. We got our tickets and got on the best bus that we've been on so far - it was like flying 1st class. Huge seats that reclined all the way back and a hostess serving water and lunch!!

It was only a short ride (3 hours) to Khorat where we'd missed the previous bus to the Thai/Cambodian border by an hour - the next one was a wait of 2 hours. We sat in a roadside cafe. I went to get a beer but apparently in Thailand selling times are restricted to stop Thai men from getting completely wasted all day, and got shouted at by the man behind the counter. Not knowing this, I felt completely stupid. Eventually 11am rolled around and I got my Beer Leo!
We met a nice couple from Holland at the station who were travelling the same route to Siem Reap as us. We chatted on the bus - they'd come from Laos where they'd lived in a village and from charity money raised before they cam had bought tables, chairs, had the school floor concreted, bought books etc to help the school out. They worked in the fields with the locals, walked barefoot, helping carry rice from near villages and ate as the villagers did. They told us stories of eating all sorts : insects, snake, rats, lizards, dog to name a few...

We got to the border, Ariana Pratchett, after another 4 hours bus ride. We got stamped out of Thailand and then the fun started!!

We had read of scams where people get you to buy your Cambodian visa from them for double the price - we avoided them all, but they still carry on walking at the side of you. We got to the government visa office - a sign declared $20 for the visa. The guy at the window asked for 1000 Baht (an extra $10). We refused and pointed at the signs above his head. He closed the window and refused to give us a visa!

There were only the four of us who were there, they kept us waiting for 20 minutes in no mans land refusing to issue us with a visa for $20. Eventually they came down some to 800 Baht, we still refused. In the end Sally got her phone out and pretended to call the Embassy to complain. This got some movement in the office and about ten minutes later, the Dutch couple had paid them 800 Baht each and for some reason they had enough of us and issued our visas for $20. This really was not a pleasant experience after travel ling for 12 hours and made us question ourselves for coming to Cambodia.

We then got a taxi for $35 between the four of us to travel the 140km to Siem Reap. The police we pushing other taxi touts away from us, we quickly realized that corruption was rife in Cambodia. Poi Pet (the town on the Cambodian side of the border) was a dirty, uninviting place ridden with casinos and poverty. There was one road to Siem Reap. This is the worst road I've ever been on - imagine the worst country dirt road you've ever been on with huge potholes and craters in it, make it three times as wide and 140km long and that was the road that led to Siem Reap.

We got to Siem Reap battered, with stiff necks and aching bodies at about 9.30pm. A tuk-tuk took us to the hotel we asked for - it was full (apparently) and then took us to another. On our way out of the room, the manager was showing  a prostitute into one of the other rooms!! Great first impression of Cambodia.
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