Siem Rep

Trip Start Apr 01, 2005
Trip End Aug 08, 2005

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Flag of Cambodia  ,
Monday, May 9, 2005

Probabaly one of the most interesting trips I have ever undertaken beginging with getting there. I had heard all of the scams with the dodgy exchange rates and the fact they force you to stay at particular hotels when you get to Cambodia. But I had booked accomodation with a Cambodian family who gave me a rundown of it all.

6 Euro for a 500 km trip is not bad and it was all fine until we got to the boarder.!!!! Thai side was fine and believe it or not the boarder control on the Cambodian side was also a piece of cake (heard so many stories of making bribes to get into the country). Then the fun started, dodgy exchange rates, half the actual rate. They also said dollars where no good in Cambodia anymore which was rubbish everything is priced in dollars. I avoided all this with my contact in Cambodia. All I can say is 150km in 6.5 hours on the dodgyist road I have ever seen. This was the main highway across the country but due to all the corruption the government pocket the money. This has also been a road notorious for highjacking tourists at gunpoint and traveling at 25k m an hour you can see why. It was the most painful 6 hours of my life. Sure enough we got there at 11.00pm at dropped off at a hotel and that was it. They wouldn't even let me ring the place I had booked. So we got a Tuk Tuk through Siem Reap in the middle of the night feeling dodgy as hell but with no choice.

I should have worried though because the Cambodian people are unbelievably nice. Dispite the face you can buy an AK47 for 10USD and get someone killed for the same price I felt really relaxed there. The kids hasstle you to buy things like necklaces, drinks and postcards etc. but they are really friendly ask lots of questions and a really interested but are genuinly poor and you have to admire them. The only time it gets really annoying is when you are having a great chat with 2 or three and that suddenly you have a swarm, it is also a bit intimidating. They have a reputaion as pickpockets but we didn't see it.

Oh and one thing they speak so many languages from speaking to tourists all day. I enven had one girls and wait for it say "where are you from?" I replied "Ireland" to which she said "Ah.. Conas ata tu?" I nearly dropped.

We spent our first day exploring the town. There are a few wierd things about Siem Reap. Every family has their own crocodile pit (see pictures) out their back garden or on their roof. and I mean 30 or 40 3-4 meter crocs which that sell for food and hand bags. We even went to a restauraunt with a crocodile pit in the centre, it was so cool. It has been the only country that I have been to with no McDonalds but they did have an Irish Bar!!!!! I did have, relatively my nost expensive ever pint of Guinness there 8USD, but in relative terms comparing it to the price of regular pint it would have cost me 80 Euro if anyone can beat that let me know.
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