Back in the Empire of Angkor
Siem Reap Travel Blog› entry 7 of 17 › view all entries
Don't you think it's extremely boring how I always write that the flight was 'uneventful'? Well, I've got news for you. It wasn't this time. When boarding time at Schiphol arrived and I walked to the gate I met a confused crowd and some airline staff that were informing the people about a delay. We were told that the airplane had been in 'an accident' and needed to be repaired. That could take several hours and maybe the flight had to be completely cancelled, with no alternative being available short term. This would result in an overnight stay at Schiphol, but anything better than flying in a damaged airplane!
Now, in the old days that would probably have frustrated the hell out of me. Nowadays however, I have learned to chill and accept things that you cannot change.
The plane eventually departed with a 2+ hour delay. We were informed that a catering truck had hit one of the engines, after which the plane had to be pulled into a hangar for repair.
When I finally arrived at Siem Reap airport with a slight delay it was just past 19:00 hours. I still had to get a visa to really enter Cambodia, but it's dead easy to arrange this at the airport. And hilarious as well. Imagine 13 officials sitting behind a huge curved desk. You hand over your application form and passport at one end and it passed down the whole curve with lots of stamps being made before your passport is handed over to you at the other end.
Right, now all I need to do is get into town. There were two options, take a comfortable, air conditioned car or have a ride on the back of a small motorbike with the driver holding your luggage between his legs and no spare helmet being available. What an absolute no-brainer! So off we went on the motorbike with my faithful Cambodian krama scarf trailing behind me like the tail of a comet. Call me crazy but it just suits my sense of adventure much better.
Driving through Siem Reap was surreal. In five years the place had undergone an enormous transformation. I remebered it as a small town with narrow streets. No it had broad streets, loads of avertising billboards and more fancy hotels than one can count. It waa more than obvious that one of the main attractions in South East Asia, the temples of the old Angkor Empire, had brought about a major tourist industry boom over the past years. Not to say that Siem Reap wasn't a tourist hot spot five years ago already ...
When I walked into the lobby of the Lotus Lodge where we would be staying I met Dave, the tour leader of Action Challenge that was coordinating the whole event. He informed me that I was sharing a room with Bryan from England, whom I met in said room. After a quick freshening up (I had arrived just in time for the briefing) I met the rest of the group in the lobby. Dave took us to the restaurant and gave us some details on the coming days, after which we were off to have dinner at the Madame Butterfly restaurant in town. An excellent chance to get acquainted with some of my fellow volunteers while enjoying the tasty food and cold Angkor beers.
Back at the hotel I had a hard time getting to sleep even though I was dead tired. Seemingly the time difference of six hours told my body that it wasn't quite time for bed yet. Eventually I dozed off though ...