We were up early this morning ready to be picked up for the bus to Phnom Penh. We managed to get a good sleep last night which was what we needed, although we still felt like we needed more- we were exhausting ourselves!
We checked out- thank god- and waited for the mini bus to turn up for 6.15- which didn't show for a change. The receptionist rang the company and they said he was on his way, he was just going around picking other up. 6.50 he turned up with nobody else in the mini bus! We went to another accommodation on the way and picked about 12 people up to squeeze in this little mini bus! They were all Cambodian people and didn't seem to like the look of us. One man even laughed at us!
We got to the bus station about 7.10 and the bus was waiting, although there wasn't really many other people on it. The bus was very old and shabby and nothing like it looked in the photos. It wouldn't have been too bad, but it didn't have a toilet which I didn't like. We were literally the only white people on the bus, which just seemed to be their local bus, not really a tourist bus. Everybody was Cambodian and kept giving us funny looks. Nobody was pleasant and friendly with us, like we thought Cambodian people were. Thinking now, it may only be in the tourist areas that people are friendly, because they have to be to make a living. Although some people have just helped us and been lovely for no reason.
The bus was a little uncomfortable and we didn't really know what we were getting ourselves into or if we would actually end up in Phnom Penh centre- fingers crossed! We experienced the true local transport at least! We tried to get a couple of hours sleep on and off but the bus was so rocky and bumpy. Most of the roads were dirt roads and were so bumpy. The driver also beeped every second to warn people to move out of the way. The dust from the dirt track also meant that at times the driver couldn't see a thing- we nearly drove into the back of a van because of it!!
We stopped at two different 'service stations' for the toilet and if we wanted food- which we passed on. They were just large huts in the middle of nowhere! One of them had live tarantula's in a bowl!! They both had cows just trotting around- these cows also kept walking across the road without a care and we had to swerve around them!
When we were just about to leave the last service station, the engine went off, which they had kept running for the whole time we had stopped. And there was a reason behind this...the bus wouldn't start again! After trying to get it going for a while loads of men got off the bus and started to push the bus backwards to the road. They managed to jump it thank god! And then it did it again! We got going anyway but it seemed like the whole way, if he slowed down, it was about to stop again!
On the bus ride we saw how poor Cambodia was, although we were aware of this already. It was still sad to see though- all the tiny tin houses and lack of clean water/food. Made us realise how lucky we are! The majority of land was empty and either dirt/sandy or green fields. There would then be random hut houses in the land, most which didn't have any sides and were just sticks and a tin roof. There were houses above swamps which were resting on wood stilts, with a path/bridge leading to the road. We saw men on the way laying tarmac on some of the roads.
We then came into the city and everything looked a bit different. There were brick houses which looked nice and decent roads. The difference a few miles makes! We passed the massive river that had houses floating in it!! Time to see what we thought of Phnom Penh. Hopefully it would be better than Siem Reap as we didn't rate that too much. There just didn't seem to be anything there apart from the temples and markets and we like to stay busy. Hopefully Phnom Penh would have street food!! We were missing that!
It took us ages to get to where we got dropped off. It was rush hour and really busy and the city seemed massive! We kept thinking we were there when it would get a little built up, but then it would go back dirt roads and very poor areas, then be built up again a bit down the road. I asked the bus driver to make sure we were getting off at the right stop and he was so rude to me and said we need to stay on basically but ushered me away with his hands! The bus broke down again on the way, right in the middle of rush hour traffic! People had to get off the bus again and push it.
When we got there they practically threw our bags off the bus and they were covered in dirt. A tuk tuk driver told us it would cost $6 to our accommodation- The Bright Lotus Guesthouse. Nath tried to barter but he refused so we just got it as we didn't have clue where we were and it wasn't like anybody was going to be friendly and help us! It did take quite a while to get to the guesthouse, but mainly because of traffic- it still wouldn't have been walkable though.
We checked in and the room was nice, thank god!! It was about 5pm when we eventually got there! They checked us into a twin room as they didn't have a double until tomorrow but the room was fine anyway. The single beds were big anyway and okay for us so we decided to just stay in that room. The view was great from the room too so we didn't want to lose that. The window in the room was into a corridor but the corridor had open walls and we could straight over to the royal palace grounds, which was also where the sun set over! At the end of the corridor there was a balcony and if you looked around the side you could see the Mekong River. It seemed like we were in the perfect location! We were so chuffed with the room and accommodation!
For the rest of the night we had a walk around the city, saw the royal palace lit up and had a walk along the riverfront, which is lovely. It was so busy near the riverfront of people just sat relaxing, mainly locals. There were tourists in the area, but not too many that you notice often. It is still a very local place even though it is the capital of Cambodia.
All the tuk tuk drivers that you walk past seriously bug and just keep asking you if you need a tuk tuk even when you say no. The later it got, they changed their questions to- do you want tuk tuk? We would say no. Then they would say- do you want weed..marajuana? Shifty guys they were! That must be how they make their money, but to be fair we never saw anybody getting any.
We found a restaurant near the river and both munched out. We were starving by this point! We had only had biscuits and a pot noodle all day!! Nath got a korma and I got fresh fish from the river (cooked obviously) with veg and mash and mushroom sauce- it was amazing! We also had popadoms which was a nice treat! Something different again for us!
After dinner we had a walk back down the river and headed back to our room ready to explore the city the next day. You can't really get your bearings when you arrive in the dark.