So on Monday morning, after arriving in Bangkok on the Sunday afternoon, we bid Matthew (Lou's brother) and his family a fond farewell and headed off on the next lef of our journey.
Our "bus" to Cambodia ended up being a 10 seater modern mini van with just us and the driver - luxury! We were soon snoozing through the streets of Thailand! After about 4 hours, we arrived at a "cafe" close to the Cambodia borders. The buses drop all of the tourists off here and you buy lunch from them (it cost about 2 pounds (there is no pound sign on this keyboard!) for a delcious rice dish) whilst they sort all of your paperwork to cross the border into Cambodia. Half an hour later, we were all ushered onto another bus which took us to the border and after much faffing and standing inline we were through to Cambodia!!! A two hour taxi ride later, we arrived at the outskirts of Siem Reap and the extent of the flooding was very evident... so much so, our taxi refused to travel any further and he paid a Tuk Tuk driver to take us the rest of the way. A Tuk Tuk in Cambodia consists of a small motorbike with a carriage attached behind... imagine this with 3 people (a Dutch guy called Peter who we had crossed the borded with) and 3 backpacks, driving through waist height flood water, quite an experience. When we have a chance to upload some photos, you will see just what we are talking about!
Our hostel was unreachable due to the floods so we made a last minute decision to stay at the hostel that Peter had checked into, not the best hostel but it had hot water and wasn't flooded- bonus!!! (turns out we had made the right choice as when we managed to get online, we found our original hostel had emailed us to say they had had to close due to the floods). We decided we'd go out to explore a bit- if the locals could continue life in the flood water, so could we! It really was quite an experience, the roads are flooded but motorbikes (with a whole family of 5 people sitting on one bike), bikes, cars, buses still drove through it as if there was nothing wrong with it. Restaurants and shops were flooded but still open and all the Cambodians were still friendly and smiley despite it. After much hilarity and almost losing our footing a few times, we made it to the night market and were asked many times "you buy something lady" before heading back to our hostel for some sleep reading for our 5am pick up to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat.
Our Tuk Tuk driver for the day,Chan, picked us (and Peter) up from the hostel and we made our way to Angkor Wat. By now, a lot of the flood waters on the main streets had dispersed but the side streets and some of the less maintained roads were still under water. Angkor Wat is the largest religious structure in the world and is national symbol of the Khmers. The sunrise did not disappoint, it is absolutely beautiful. The sun rises over the top of the temples and the reflection is caught in the lake in front. It really is quite something. We spent until midday looking around all of the temples at Angkor Wat with Chan and his Tuk Tuk as our guide (he stayed waiting for us all day, all for US$7 each), it really is a beautiful place. Chan told us we were lucky to have seen the sun rise as the weather has been so bad lately that the sun hasn't really risen much. It certainly did on the day we were there, it was well over 30 degrees by 7am!
After a quick snooze in the afternoon, we rounded off our visit to Cambodia with a visit to "Pub Street" which was by now mostly free of flood water! A meal for the two of us with 2 beers each, came to a grand total of US$12 (about 8 pounds)!
We headed back to our hostel, bellys full and ready and waiting for our 6.30am coach trip to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.