Getting to Angkor – the long road to Siem Reap

The journey from Bangkok to Siem Reap was our first, and worst, overland journey in South East Asia. Having wasted a day in Bangkok, finding the long distance bus station to buy our tickets for the next day, we started to feel like this whole travelling business was going to be quite complicated and fairly stressful. However, this journey was to be the low point and from then on all future journeys would be a breeze. Every other hostel we stayed at would book our onward transportation for us and we would be picked up at the door.

You have to change buses at the Thai-Cambodian border but we booked both tickets together. We were informed that we would be directed through the border to our next bus but when we got there the told us to wait, and then never came back. Eventually we just walked through immigration on our own, but we nearly missed our second bus as a result. It seems to be just one company that runs all the buses at Poipet, so there isn’t really any choice and our bus was disgusting. I sat for the whole journey with my feet up, because of the mass of cobwebs below the seats. Then our bus broke down and what was meant to be a seven hour bus ride, turned into an 11 hour journey. All this on an empty stomach!

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One thing that struck me, when it came to the Cambodian scenery, was how flat the land is. Also it is immediately apparent when you cross from Thailand, how much less developed the country is.

Needless to say, it was late when we got to Siem Reap and I was in an awful mood. We hunted around for a cash point for ages. We had no Cambodian Riel on us and were absolutely starving. Eventually we found an ATM, only to discover that they only give out dollars anyway, and this was the main currency used in Cambodia (we had plenty of dollars!).

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When we finally sat down in a restaurant for dinner, there was a power cut shortly after we’d ordered. Nevertheless, the cooked us an amazing meal on the gas stove by candle light. Pictured is Matt happily tucking into his first Amok (a creamy coconut based curry, very flavoursome but much less spicy than the Thai curries). It being a meal for two, with drinks, for only (we couldn’t believe this) $7, we kept on coming back.

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Siem Reap is a tourist town, pretty much every business caters to tourists and everyone seems to be jostling to make some money out of you. So although you could have a good couple of nights on the lively Pub street, its not somewhere we felt like hanging around for long in once we’d done Angkor Wat (because really, that’s the sole reason anyone is there for). Read my next post, for more on the temples of Angkor themselves – they really need a whole new post to do them justice, plus I have so many photos…

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