Our arrival in Cambodia was definitely the worst arrival anywhere of the whole trip, just as we'd expected. We flew to Bangkok and took the bus to Siem Reap, through the scammiest, but also most-used, border crossing. Lonely Planet had, helpfully, warned us of the scam that was to come, but had neglected to give any real information about how to avoid it. So we got herded onto a free shuttle bus from the Cambodian side of the border, which took us to a government run bus station in the middle of nowhere. From there, our choices were either a ludicrously expensive taxi for the 3 hour journey to Siem Reap, or a reasonably cheap bus, which didn't leave for about 3 hours. And an hour in to the journey, the driver and his mates got off for a full three course meal and a few beers. But worst of all, when we got to Siem Reap, we got into a tuktuk from the 'bus station' they'd dropped us off at, and asked to be taken to Red Lodge hostel. We arrived, a guy came out of the hostel and confirmed that it was Red Lodge, and we checked in. It was only when we signed in to the wifi later on that we realised it wasn't Red Lodge at all, but just another part of the scam! The hostel was actually not too bad, so we didn't mind enough to bother moving, but it was really infuriating all the same...
We bought a three-day pass for the temples, and took a different mode of transport each day. So the first day was in a tuktuk, and we went to some of the really distant temples, including Banteay Srei, which is completely different to all the others, built out of a pinker stone and really intricately carved. That night at dinner we were trying to figure out how best to get a good moto driver for the next day, and we met two girls at the next table who were spending a few months in Siem Reap volunteering, and recommended a good driver to us. So we both squeezed onto the back of his moto for the second day of temples, and a near miss involving a falling tree at Ta Prohm (the one where Tomb Raider was filmed). And then on the third day, when we went to Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, we decided to cycle...not exactly my favourite activity, especially in that heat and with a bicycle seat that kept twisting upwards, so I swallowed my pride and got a tuktuk back with the bike!
But there was also so much more to do in Siem Reap than just the temples, and we did a lot of it! We had massages by trained blind masseurs, and went to a cello concert which is held weekly to raise money for the Kanta Bopha children's hospital. It was opened by Beat Richer, a Swiss doctor, decades ago, as the only children's hospital in Cambodia where all treatment and medication is free, and no potential patient is turned away. The concerts are free, but he spends most of it talking about the work he's done, and showing a documentary film about the hospitals, and raises about $5 million a year from the concerts alone.
We also went to the Landmine Museum a few kilometres outside the city, which was absolutely fascinating. It was opened by an NGO and a guy called Aki Ra, who was a child soldier for the Khmer Rouge and laid thousands of mines for them when he was 13. He later defected to the Vietnamese and started clearing mines for them. He estimates that he's cleared around 50000 mines over the years, but there are still an estimated 6-7 million left in Cambodia. He opened the museum to educate visitors about the problem, and has a compound at the back where he and his wife (they met when she was visiting the original museum) take in landmine victims and other children who need a good education. They've got 29 kids there now, and he's been shortlisted for CNN Hero of the Year (we met the founder of the NGO in the museum the day the shortlist had been announced; vote for him here: http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/archive10/aki.ra.html), which would enable them to take in another 20 children by the end of the year. All in all, a pretty amazing and sobering place.