What can I say – what a journey and what an experience!
We left Chiang Rai at 6am to catch the flight to Bangkok, that was the easy bit! We then arrived at Bangkok airport at 9:30 from where we took a taxi to the northern bus terminal. We made it just in time to catch the 11:30 bus to Aranyaprathet which is the closest Thai town to the Cambodia border. The bus took 4 hours, and we then caught a tuk tuk to the border post, which promptly broke down en route. After 10 mins of fiddling with the engine the driver managed to get us under way again! We reached the border at 4pm. Then we got stamped out of Thailand, and walked into no mans land a 200m walk to the Cambodia entry point where we had to apply for a visa ($20) and get our passports stamped. The site talesofasia was a great guide and certainly helped us to avoid the many scammers and pickpockets that try it on with you here. Once we got our passports stamped by the Cambodia authorities we entered the Cambodian border town of Poiphet – the asshole of the world! It was like a scene from Star Wars – when Obi Wan takes them to the town to find a transport – “you’ll never find a place in the galaxy full of more thief’s and beggars”. Massive adrenaline rush – Tom and I were ready to kill anyone who came within 2 feet of us! Luckily we had two guards from the Cambodia authorities (most tourists cross in the morning I think) – who were obviously keen to ensure we left Poiphet intact! We quickly got a taxi to Siem Reap for $20 each – the preferred currency here is $$$$! The official currency is the riel – approx. 8000 riel to the pound! Poiphet is not a nice place to start in Cambodia and is not a reflection on the rest of the country!
The taxi to Siem reap took 4 hours for a 150km journey! Imagine the worst dustiest potholed farm track you can and that’s a Cambodian road! We weaved in between potholes, trucks, and pedestrians all the way! Not long after we got in the taxi it started raining – the first rain I have seen since I left the UK 3 weeks ago! It also got dark pretty quick so we were relieved to leave Poiphet quickly! Once dark we could see thunder/lightning storms off in the distance – which was quite erry, also there’s not many street lights here so visibility was poor due to dust clouds kicked up by lorries. So we spent 4 hours being bumped up and down without being able to see much!
We arrived in Siem Reap at 10pm – 16 hours after leaving Chiang Rai, where the taxi driver dropped us off at a guest house, and we took a room for the night – had a much needed shower (we were covered in dust) and promptly fell asleep contented to have reached Siem Reap!
Reaching Siem Reap last night meant we now have 3 full days to go round Angkor Wat, day 1 today, which we saw today. Amazing sight, nearly a thousand years old its an amazing achievement that it was constructed using ancient methods – its massive! Nearly every brick has carvings of people, animals, Buddha’s etc on it. Angkor Wat itself was very touristy 🙁 lots of Japs and Koreans who are way too click happy (annoying!). Before we saw Angkor Wat though we went to Angkor Thom – more ruined but less touristy and equally as good. We then went top Angkor Wat (the classic postcard scene you will have probably seen) at 3pm and stayed until the sun went down which was very scenic.
Cambodia itself is different to Thailand, not so geared up for tourists and you notice immediately this is a poverty stricken country. Also there’s a load of land mine warning signs everywhere – this is the most densely (spelt correct?) mined country in the world – don’t worry Mum we are not going off the beaten path! Its also very hot and humid – seems more so than Thailand – its rained and thundered today so that mixed with dust blown up meant we are marinated in a combo of dirt, dust, sweat, and insect repellent!
Tomorrow we might hire some bikes and go to the parts of Angkor that have not been maintained and therefore have been recaptured by the jungle – hopefully less tourists.
Pratty, 12 months would be ace – think you will have to work though – when travelling you start to soon notice anything and everything is a drain on your wallet! 3 weeks today since I left the UK and I’m not ready to come home yet!
Al, yep forgot to mention the snake whiskey on the Lao Island! Wow how strong – Tom has bought some complete with dead Cobra in the bottle! Think he might have some paint to thin at home!
Shiz, site blocked by BT!!!! Sort it out for us geez, what’s that about! Good to hear from you – hope all is well in Mancland?
Stoo, heard about Carol sleeping with Amanda – apparently there’s no photos though 🙁 Had a strange Essex message from you – nice you remember me when drunk, miss you man!
No mobile signal here so use email!