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Siem Reap Travel Blog

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Awoken early by huge thunder claps and streaks of lightning flashing across the early morning sky. Dragged my self out of bed at 7.30am and wondered down Ko San, bought some toothpaste and chanced it with a travel agency asking for the bus to Siem Reap. Suprised I was able to snatch one up 15minutes before it left. Slightly inflated price of course, but managed to settle at 450b. So quick goodbyes but the bus only left at 8.30, the agency obviously wanting to ensure they secured every sale possible, so hanging on for those extra bahts. Trying to get me to purchase the Cambodian Visa off them for 1500b, providing me stories of gangsters and corrupt officals who will exort me while they are "nice" & their "price is nice" so i should secure the visa with them. But again just bullshit, $20dollars on the border so i stuck fast. Although the price of the visa immediately dropped to 1000b when i replied with a firm NO. Passed through green countryside while the rain poured down until we reached the border. Met an English chap called Alle, nice bloke also adament to pay at the border. In fact only three of us resisted. Me, him and this Dutch guy. The border was pretty mental, a clash of Thailand and Cambodia and the difference was rather apparent. A pretty raggedy young girl walked along side me holding an umbrella over my head. It wasn't raining and the sun was no where to be seen, but she didn't seem to understand this. Of course she requested some charity but no, i wasn't having it. The process of getting across the border was simply but long. Thai immigration. Visa application. Visa check. Cambodian arrival. Passport Check. Recieved a bullshit 100b stamp fee from the officals who were obviously putting that straight into their pockets. I told them it was illegal, asked for a receipt which they funnily didn't seem to understand. They wouldn't give me the visa without paying the fee so i had too unfortunately. It's funny that this occurs even though there are signs stating specifically that these "fees" are completley illegal. The girls here are prettier than in Thailand. People look differently and it's weird seeing this difference by just walking over a border. Most of the people on our bus couldn't resist the chance of a 300b taxi into Siem Reap rather than taking the bus they had already paid for. Me and Alle took the bus. It was a cool journey passing through only countryside. The roads are bad so the ride was bumpy. I immeditely could tell i prefer this to Thailand. We passed lots of these small rugged, basic and beautiful villages. Cattle wondering aimlessley along the road side. Water Buffalo eating grass in the flooded fields. Carts pulled by locals, transporting goods. Young pretty girls dressed in dirty rags and messy hair walking cows along side the muddy river. Men and women wading through the water pullin out their catch as the sunset. Shirtless young boys jumping from bridges in the river and racing each other through villages on bicycle. So many smiling and happy children. Stopped at a spot ready for travellers. Inflated prices but no pressure to purchase anything. Kids asking for foreign change and a drunk man asking for my digital camera. On one of the buses, a man fell through a covered hole when getting off, his legs dissappearing onto the road underneath. Got off 10 minutes outside of Siem Reap. The bus seemed to purposely arrive at dark, in the late evening so that you are more likely to jump on one of the awaiting tuktuks whose driver will try relentlessly for you to choose a guesthouse they recommend so that they receive a commision. I asked a tuktuk driver how much it was to take me to two guesthouses (which are recommended by the Lonely Planet guide), the first guesthouse he informed me was much too expensive and the second was apparently undergoing reconstructional works. What a pity. Ha but no worry we avaded the lies spewed out at us. Alle invited me for drinks with him and his friend who was staying in the city with a Korean girl who is living there and working as a tour guide. So we shared the tuktuk (4000r/ $1) to the centre. Of course the tuktuk driver tried to convince us to stay at several guesthouses we passed even though we lied that we had accomodation already arranged. He babbled away in poor english, repeating how he was trustworthy and that he could take us on a tour of the temples for special price of $10. We jumped off and walked down the main street containing all the bars and pubs which was appropriately called "Pub Street". His friend, Aaron was a really friendly bloke and we all exchanged stories of Ping Pong shows and other silly travel experiences. The town had a great feel to it and we wondered down another central road which was filled with restaurants. Basic food to the more expensive. One restaurant offereing bbq kangaroo, crocodile, osterich, snake and other animals which had been imported. Everything is in dollars although you can pay in Cambodial Reel and sometimes Thai baht as well. Had a tasty local dish, Cambodian fishsoup. The food is more expensive unless you eat at the roadside food stalls where it is cheaper but still more costly than in Thailand. The restaurant we ate in was visited my Angelina Jolie apparently during the filming of Tomb Raider and the Lara Croft Cocktail is promoted which was invented by her during one of her visits or something. Had a 0.50$ draught of the local beer was was very satisfying. The tuktuk drivers here don't just offer their transport services. It starts with "hello my friend, tuktuk?" if you ignore them or say no it is followed by "weed?, cocaine?, girl?, guesthouse?". Diversification which you just don't see in Thailand. And i found it strange that the offer of a place to sleep came last. Aaron's girlfriend drove us to a guesthouse where we scored a basic room with two single beds for $1.50 each. Nice place with free (slow) internet, a sunset bar with free pool and the rich smell of freshly lit up weed. Tomorrow the temples.
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Siem Reap
photo by: genetravelling