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June 21, 2004

Holiday in Cambodia

We took the "Red-eye Special" from Colombo, leaving at 3 am and getting into Bangkok at 7 in the morning. We struggled to stay awake as the cab drove us back towards Khao San Rd, into the heart of backpacker territory. We had decided to skip through to Cambodia to try and see Angkor Wat and as soon as we caught up on sleep, we'd make the arrangements.

Our stay in Bangkok was brief, just enough time for a couple of meals, a few drinks and a tattoo, before we jumped on a bus to Siem Reap. The bus left at 6:30 in the morning and was supposed to arrive by about 7 o'clock. We had read up about bus scams the night before and as we neared the border around 2 hours late it was starting to look like we were caught up in one. The "guide" helped us fill in our visa's, charging us an extra $US10 each for his trouble. Once the visa were ready, they advised us that it would cost another $US2.50 each to get them stamped. By now some of us were grumbling, but by that stage they've got you right where they want you, in the middle of nowhere. We walked with bags, for a couple of kilometres over the border and saw the minibus that would take us to Siem Reap - you've got to be kidding. The new bus was about 1/3 of the size of the old bus and the more alert had noticed that we had gone to a different border than the regular Poi-Pet crossing point. We were told we should in Siem Reap in about 4 hours, they lied. We left the border around 4ish, onto what has to be one of the worst roads in Cambodia. The road from the Osmach border is an unsealed bush track with potholes big enough to swallow a car whole, complete with many nerve-wracking bridge crossings. We bumped up and down that road in the dark for almost 9 hours until we arrived, delivered to a guest house at 1a.m, far too late to go anywhere else and too knackered to really care. We had fallen for the old "Bus trip to the wrong border that arrives really really late" trick and once we had caught up on sleep we left. "We just like to have a bit of choice in where we stay", we told the puzzled staff who asked us if something was wrong with the guest house. But it was more that that, the next busload of people that arrived (on time and taken to the correct border) were surrounded when they tried to leave, leaving a bad taste in the mouth of those who'd seen it. But the crazy bus trip had unexpected results, we ended up becoming quite close to the our fellow passengers, sharing a bond that had the trip been smoother, may not have existed at all. We were all here to see Angkor Wat and doing it as a group would prove to be cheaper and a lot more fun.

Posted by Zach & Emily on June 21, 2004 09:34 PM
Category: CAMBODIA
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