Siem Reap Day 1 (21.06.2012):
We made it to Cambodia (with all our possessions). We awoke at 5am in our Bangkok hostel and headed to the train station to catch the 5:55 train to Arranyaprathet near the Thai border. The train was extremely crowded and there was no aircon - it cost less that £1 - took 6 hours! On finally reaching Arranyaprathet we were swamped by tuk tuk drivers all wanting to take us to the border crossing. We got more or less pushed into a tuk tuk and after trying to scam us by taking us to a fake visa office we finally made it to the border crossing at Poipet.
Today was so difficult as we were constantly hassled by people and you really do not know who to trust and who wants to scam you. They will follow you for miles and constantly badger you. You really have to have your wits about you which can be difficult after little sleep and carrying heavy bags in sweltering heat. They literally fight over who gets to scam you.. you get shouted at all the time by various people wanting you to buy something, or to take you somewhere. Although I do feel for them as I know how little they all live on and that they have to fight for custom, it can get scary.
Anyhow.. the important thing is we made it to the proper border crossing not some fake one. Queued both for the Thai departure checks and then the arrival checks in Cambodia where we had to have photos taken as well as fingerprints. On exiting the checks office we were again hounded and eventually made it on to a 'free' bus to take us to the international terminal for onward travel to Siem Reap. On arriving there we were not surprised to find out the bus was not operating - a common scam so that you have to get a more expensive taxi. We found another couple to share a taxi with in the end and it was only $3 more than the bus and 1 hours less travelling.
We travelled 2 hours in the taxi to Siem Reap. The journey was kinda fun and gave us an insight into the country. I was shocked to see how poor parts of it are. I saw children aged five and under on the roads alone with no clothes on. There are lots of orphans and it seems almost an entire generation missing flowing from, I presume, the Khmer Rouge. It really is eye opening. I hope they continue to build the country up. I hadn't realised how many atrocities had gone on here and it really is sad when you read up on it. I think I will be buying all the kids food!
The taxi man was not pleased we already had a hotel booked and wanted us to check out his mates place.. after some persistence we eventually arrived at the hotel I had booked: Viva Hotel. It is a lovely hotel.. Phew we have landed!
Worn out to say the least we dragged ourselves straight out before we could get comfy. It was 16:00 by the time we hit the streets of Siem Reap. What a great city! We love it. There's such a nice vibe about the place. We checked out the Old Market area and the famous Pub Street. We sampled some of Cambodia's finest food and beer: Khmer Curry and Angkor beer. The beer is all 0.35$ to 0.50$. Afterwards we headed to the Night Market before heading back for some much needed sleep.
Tomorrow we will check out Angkor Wat.. The question being will be up in time for the sunrise?