We got on our mini bus at Khao San Road, and it was a bit of a squeze - good job I only have little legs! I am always slightly nervous about getting on buses now since we havent had much luck and this one was no different - the driver drove like an absolute maniac! The bus drivers here have no patience at all, they over take into on coming traffic and on blind corners while travelling at a ridiculous speed. We even drove past an over-turned lorry which made me even more nervous, but thankfully after about five hours we made it to the Cambodian "border". I say "border" as it's not the actual border (even though they call it that), it's basically a stop off that is arranged between a visa company and the bus company that you travel on, were by you pay people (over the odds) to process your Visa for you then they take you to the actual border. We had heard that there are so many scams that you need to be aware while getting to Cambodia, so we did some research and we were quite clued up about what to expect.
So we arrived at the fake border, and we paid £24 for them to process our visa's for us. They said they needed passport photo's and if you didn't have them you would have to pay 100 Baht more (this was the first scam, as you don't need pictures). After we had the visa in our passports they walked us to the border. They then said that we would need to get money out at the cash machine before we crossed the border as there were not many cash machines in Cambodia and you will get charged a lot to use them. This was another scam, but we had read about this one so we were prepared and already had cash on us.
After passing through the border (which was basically a hut, with some gaurds in) we were put on a shuttle bus that took us to the bus station. With the ticket that we bought, we had a coach included in the price that was supposed to pick us up at the bus station and take us to Siem Reap. Not long after arriving, someone from the company we booked with approached us and said that they could arrange a taxi for us to Siem Reap for 200 Baht each (why would they offer us a taxi when we had booked a coach?). Basically the whole coach was a scam! We had slightly expected it anyway, so we quicly realised that it was no wonder they wanted you to get money out at the border as you would need cash to pay for a taxi since the coach we were all booked on didn't really exist! We had only paid £6 each for our ticket so we weren't fussed about paying an extra £4 each for a taxi, but it was annoying the way the get money out of you!
The taxi ride to Siem Reap was quite interesting. It became apparant very quickly how different Cambodia is to Thailand. Cambodia is one of the poorest countries on earth, and driving through it felt like we had gone back in time 200 years! There were cows walking in the roads that were so skinny you could see their ribs, and people's homes where like nothing I have ever seen -they were just shacks.
After nearly three hours in the taxi we arrived in Siem Reap. It was quite a busy town. It had lots of shops, restaurants, and bars - very different to what we had just seen in the countryside. We had decided that from now on we are going to really budget, as we would get a lot more for our money here anyway than what we would in Thailand. We had booked into a hostel that had good reviews and was $1 per night (that's 63p)!! I know that is a bit exteme, but we thought we would chance it and try and stay there a few nights as the reviews had said it was clean and in a good location - but we got the biggest shock ever!! I thought as it was a dorm and it was $1 it would be a bit small, but what I didn't expect was that the "dorm" to be a bed literally outside!! My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw it.It was positioned right by a pond, and as we had just started taking our maleria tablets we were worried that we would be eaten alive by mosquito's, plus there was no were to put our bags so everything we owed, laptops, ipods and money etc would be outside for anyone to take. We decided to go and have some food and think about what we would do. In Siem Reap there was a street called pub street that had loads of bars and restaurants along it. Nearly every single bar advertised 50 cent draught beer (for 30p we had to try it), and with some sprite in it, it was actually quite nice. We had finally come to a decision that we would find somewhere else to stay as the thought of spending a night in that bed was horrible. So we got our bags and managed to find a really nice guest house that was only £4 each a night and was luxury!
We had aranged for a tuk tuk to take us to Angkor Wat to see the sunrise there, so we were up at 4.30am to take the 20 minute drive to the temple. I was suprised how many people actually go there for the sunrise. When we arrived it was still pitch black, and there was a large crowd of people waiting around the lake infront of Angkor Wat. Finally about 6.30am the sun began to rise, and it was so pretty! We spent ages taking pictures then made our way into the temple and had a look around - it was huge! There were even wild monkeys just walking around the temple, it was slightly strange, they seemed a little agressive though so we quickly avoided them! After a few hours we met back up with our tuk tuk man who took us to a place were we could have some breakfast and then we visited a few more temples.
Helen had been in contact with a local orphange in Siem Reap as she wanted to do a few weeks volunteering there. So after the temples we got the tuk tuk man to drop us off at the orphanage. Talking to the people who run it, and seeing the children run around happy while they have absolutly nothing really makes you realise how much we have at home! Me and Jane decided to help out too, but could only do a day as we were moving onto Phnom Penh very soon. We got thrown in at the deep end, and were each given a class of children to help teach english to. I was quite nervous as I hadn't done anything like this before and I can't spell to save my life but the children were all really nice and very clever. Jane had the really little ones, while helen had the older ones and I had the children inbetween that were about 6/7 years old. The teacher was from Cambodia and although he spoke english it wasn't perfect so he was happy for me to take the class, and help him mark the childrens books. The topic I had to teach them was the body, so I would point to a body part, ask them what it's called and then get them to spell it for me while I wrote it on the board - it was really fun! After we had loads of words on the board the teacher wanted me to say it out load and get the chilren to repeat it after me. They copied exactly how I said each word, which meant they sounded a little scouse as they repeated them - it was funny!! After a few hours it was time for us to leave, although I wish we could have helped out more, it was a good experience to help teach the children and it definitely puts us to shame as their english was so good at such a young age!
The next morning me and Jane had a bus booked to travel to Phnom Penh. Helen was staying in Siem Reap for a while longer to help at the orphange but would meet us a few weeks later. I was excited to move onto the next place!