Trip Start Aug 14, 2006
17Trip End Sep 04, 2006
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The next morning I got up around 7:00, showered, then went to the nearest travel agency. There was a gorgeous girl that was finishing off before me. I asked for a ticket to Siem Reap in Cambodia and bought it for a bit of change. The girl asked if we were on the same bus, and it turned out we were: she was going to the Cambodian border to leave the country for a minute and come back to renew her Thai visa. We started talking and went to breakfast together. Her name is Elisabeth and she's from Sweden. Speaks perfect English, and is teaching English at a school in Bangkok for a while (only started a few weeks ago). She's 20 years old and very good-looking. I quickly checked out, then we got onto the bus to the border.
The large air-con bus only had about 10 people in it, and the two of us got the curved large back bench to ourselves. We had a great time talking etc and exchanged phone numbers and email addresses. She will be in Bangkok for a while, so I will meet up with her next weekend when I go back. At the border on the Thai side we were let out (4 hour ride) and we had some food and filled in a visa application, paid the fee, and gave in our passports. About an hour later they came back with a visa stuck into the passport, but we still had to cross the border to finish it off
Around this time it started raining. And I mean raining. Tropical gushes of rain. I got quite soaked, but we made it to the bus that took us for 10 minutes to the proper bus station, where we changed some Thai Baht to Cambodian Riel and got a bit wetter, then got onto a little old bus. It wasn't too nice, but it had air-con which made it Ok. Then began the rest of the journey (another 160km). Sounds Ok...but unfortunately the road to Siem Reap is unbelievably shit. No tar, just red dirt pushed to the ground. Bumps EVERYwhere...HUGE bumps too. Not just a slight vibrating and the occasional bump, but literally 3 bumps a second! Occasionally we hit big holes and jumped about a foot into the air. Pretty exciting! It was obviously absolutely impossible to sleep on this 6 hour journey (keep in mind thats 160km/6 hours!). To make things worse, it started dripping in after about 20 minutes for the rest of the journey. The occasional drizle of rain through the ceiling wasn't a problem (people actually wore their rain coats on the ride, I just didn't care), but the back row had a nasty brown rusty looking drip coming out of the air-con system and nobody knew how to stop it
Anyway...so in Siem Reap I checked into the Angkor Grand Hotel for $4 a night for a great room with a nice bath room etc. In Cambodia you can pay in Riel, but 10,000Riel are only about $2.50, so the cash machines don't give them out...they give out American Dollars. Very complicated. Sometimes you can even pay in Thai Baht. I have to say I feel quite generous when giving 1000Riel to begging children (this happens all the time)!
It was quite late by this point so I went in the restaurant to have some dinner (nice Kmehr food: chicken fried with rice and vegetables in some nicely spiced coconut milk).
This morning I got up around 7:00 again, showered, went downstairs, had breakfast (Omlette, bread, fruit salad, coffee), then went to find my driver that I organized the night before
The temple itself was amazing...I seriously felt like Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider walking around an ancient ruin (and that's exactly what I was doing!)
Afterwards we headed back towards Siem Reap and went to a river where I got onto a boat and took it up the river for a while (past houses built on the river, house boats, children playing in the river, a few boats selling fruit and drinks from the little boats etc) up to the massive lake in Cambodia called Tonle Sap. On the way back we stopped at a river restaurant which had a fish and crocodile farm on it. I ate some sweet & sour shrimp with rice, which was delicious.
Next the driver took me to a Cambodian market for a while where I bought an Angkor Wat t-shirt for $2 and gave 10,000Riel ($2.50) to a Cambodian kid who talked some German to me and tried to get me to buy his post cards...he was really nice and I couldn't refuse so I bought some from him and his friend. It's very hard not to give some of the beggers money...they all seem so friendly and smiley...and it seems like they will really use the money for something worthwhile (like food and shelter). It's quite sad seeing people that are missing some limbs from the war or just mines that they happened to walk on.
Then it started drizzling a bit unfortunately, so I skipped out on seeing the sunset at Angkor Wat today, but I will do so tomorrow. I went back to the guest house for a bit, then walked here to the internet cafe. I am finally getting some laundry done at the guest house (very necessary), and I also just burned a CD with the 270 pictures I have taken so far (excluding the underwater pictures).
Cambodia has been amazing so far, and I am really looking forward to the next few days (and also to Bangkok so I can see Elisabeth again!). Bye bye!