Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
First Full Day in Cambodia
July 16, 2005
We woke up at 6:45 am this morning, had a quick breakfast and got on the 7:15 am bus to Siem Reap. The bus ride took six hours and was about the same quality of bus as the one we took from the border to Phnom Penh. The bus rides in SE Asia are starting to get really old. The traffic here is a free-for-all and you indicate to the vehicle in front to get out of the way so you can pass by honking your horn. The bus horns are not just little beeps either, so the entire bus ride is filled with the noise of the horn. Just about the time you doze off you hear the loud noise of the horn and you're wide awake again.
Our bus stopped half way for a lunch break. No vegetarian options so we decided not to eat anything. We just sat at the table drinking our water when the server asked if we wanted get a free ride to a guest house from the bus station in Siem Reap. The ride was free as long as we looked at the guest house. The brochure didn't look too bad for $4 a night, so we decided to take the free ride. I wrote down my name so he could call ahead to have a tuk tuk driver pick us up.
Once we got to the bus station in Siem Reap the vultures were attacking our bus. People were opening the windows to our bus pushing others out of the way saying, "tuk tuk 100 Reil, tuk tuk 100 Reil", over and over again. Some were holding signs reading, "I don't want to be loud I am very friendly and want to be your driver". The crowd of people trying to get our business was so bad they had guards keeping them away from us. We walked off the bus getting signs pushed in our face. I looked up and saw a sign with my name on it. I asked him who his was with. He said, "Sweet Dreams Guest House". His first answer was right. Next, I verified the ride was free and it was. He took us into town and dropped us off at Sweet Dream Guest House. The place was good enough for us for $4 a night. We checked in and decided to walk to the Old Market Center of town. Old Market Center is full of guest houses, restaurants and other shops. Kids kept coming up to us to wanting to buy their postcards while other kids just asked for money and food. Dismembered and blind land mine victims were scattered around town asking for money. It was a sad sight to see how poor these people are.
We found out from our guest house that you can enter the Angkor Wat Temples for free after 5:30 pm. We decided to hire a tuk tuk for the $3 round trip cost to see the temples to watch the sunset. Our driver took us to the main temple which is appropriately named Angkor Wat. We did a quick tour and took a few pictures. We were starting to get kicked out of the main temple area around 6:00 pm, so we decided to watch the sunset from outside the temple. As we were waiting for the sunset the sky became darker and darker and it wasn't from the sun going down. It was a storm coming in. The storm seemed far away at first, but moved in quickly. The wind picked up and it started to rain, so we walked quickly back to our driver where he was preparing the plastic tarp around the tuk tuk. We jumped in the dry tuk tuk while he was outside putting on his rain gear. The rain let shortly after we drove back to town. We had our driver take us back to the Old Market Center. We told him to pick us up at our guest house tomorrow morning at 7:00 am to do a full day tour of the temples. We found a restaurant to eat where we had pizza for dinner. We washed it down with the local beer Crown at $0.50 a can.
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