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From Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

My final night in Siem Reap was pretty awesome. I met a couple from Ireland and we went out on Pub Street for dinner, followed by a few drinks at Temple Bar. We ended up staying up until after 1am, and with a bus to catch early in the morning… we were possibly asking for trouble!

All was well however, and we met in the lobby at the arranged time, had breakfast and boarded the bus soon after. I was thrilled at having another chance to experience the views of the Cambodian countryside, and got annoyed all over again, at the many people who chose to sleep instead!

At some point during the ride, we realized something was off. This wasn’t the way we came! Apparently when we booked our bus tickets, we didn’t specify a tourist bus, so along the way our bus kept on picking up and letting off locals…bringing our journey to Phnom Penh at a royal elapsed time of 8 hours vs the expected 6! Uh oh…

After arriving, some time around 5:30pm, we hired a tuk tuk from the bus station to drop us off at our guesthouse. I checked in, paid the $10 and took a shower. Roughly 40 mins later, we were ready to hit the road for dinner. Needless to say, the food options at the stops along the bus path were far from tempting.

We walked a fair bit, until we got to Riverside where most of the nice restaurants were situated. After scanning a few of the outside menus, we settled on one which seemed diverse enough seeing that we had a vegetarian in our midst. Here’s a look at what I ate:

Fried Shrimp and chips

Pizza

Washed down with the local beer!

After dinner, I was beyond tired, so I turned in for the night. I had lots of plans for the following day and when you’re traveling, you need all the beauty sleep you can get!

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First Few Hours in Cambodia

After leaving Singapore, I headed to Cambodia via Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I used the Sinh Tourist Company to arrange my bus that would take me all the way to Siem Reap.

Turned out to be the most fascinating bus ride of my entire life!

First of all, I experienced my very first land border crossing. Thankfully, the process went quickly and orderly and before I knew it, I was in Cambodia! I jumped back into the bus, with my new Cambodian visa in my passport and the long bus ride to Siem Reap began.

I was amazed and appalled at the people who dared to fall asleep during the journey! Come on, how many of you guys have this beautiful landscape that changes so little as the miles fly by? Given that it was the monsoon season, the rice paddies were the greenest of greens, water buffaloes grazed and little children dived into the many huge puddles of water as if they were their personal swimming pools!

All too soon, (well.. about 10 hours later) we arrived at Siem Reap, the jumping off point for the ruins of Angkor. I was beyond excited, as this was one of the main reasons I was dying to visit SE Asia in the first place.I found a really nice guesthouse to spend the night at USD $10 for a single room with AC. I needed to be well rested for what I was sure would turn out to be a very busy day.

Before going to sleep, I checked out the weather for the following day, and I was unsurprised at the forecast. Cloudy skies due to the rainy season in my mind, simply meant it didn’t make sense to wake up at 3 am, to catch a sunrise that wouldn’t show up. Sorry to say, but I slept in! Note to others, if you want to catch a brilliant sunrise, check the 7 day weather forecast before arriving in Siem Reap. Truth be told, I was just grateful for the chance to see the temples, sunrise or no sunrise.

The next morning, the guesthouse owner arranged a tuk tuk and driver to take me to the temples for the day. This service set me back only USD $12. Not bad, if you ask me…seeing that I was traveling solo.

Being driven around, while munching on pineapples on chopsticks!

My driver told me to call him Tan, and asked if I’d already bought my ticket for the temples. When I told him no, he responded that we needed to go to the ticket booth first. I decided to buy the 1 day ticket, and a quick photo and 2 minutes later, my pocket was lighter of USD $20. Oh well, no one said that dreams didn’t have a price tag!

After I’d received my pass for the temples, which was in all truth, a simple piece of paper with my photo and a few lines of text… We were ready to hit the road. We drove through the town, and suddenly we were out in the countryside. I absolutely love the Cambodian landscape… (did I mention that before???)

During the short drive, we passed a few persons riding bicycles towards to temples. I love bikes, and wouldn’t have minded using this mode of transportation if I was using the 3 day pass. However, I was currently a lady on a mission and in order to see everything I wanted to see in a day, I would need motorized transport.

Soon, we approached the gate of the Angkor Complex. My driver told me to hop out, walk around for a bit, and meet him on the other side. It seemed a bit strange to me, but I agreed and made a mental note of his license plate. There were some statues lining the path leading to the gate, and I decided to take some photographs.

After a few moments I decided to enter through the gate, unsure of what I would find. Would my tuk tuk driver really be waiting on the other side, or did he abandon me?? Find out in the next post, coming soon!