Monday 1 December 2014

Holiday In Cambodia

The next day was an objectively pretty terrible day overall but it ended well. We caught a bus to Siem Reap that had been booked at the tourism office we arranged out Erawan and Khao Yai trips, so we assumed the company was fairly reputable.


Firstly, I didn't sleep much the night before. I remembered we needed to book a hostel in Siem Reap for the next night (I got one with a pool) then I couldn't sleep after. On top of that, the next morning I realised I'd lost my good Swiss watch.


We were told that, as it was a private bus not a public bus, the trip would be a quick one and that we would leave at 7am and be at Siem Reap by 1pm. Eventually we arrived at 10pm but the border crossing was the greatest obstacle.


The bus was late leaving Bangkok and seemed to take forever to get out of the city. With frequent fuel and rest stops, we got to the Thai-Cambodia border around midday where we were told we would be having lunch at a backyard restaurant owned by the bus company which was 2kms away from the border.


After lunch, the company sorted us all in accordance with our nationality then shepherded everyone into the office in pairs to buy their Cambodian entry visa. At their point, keen-eyed readers would recall that we are still 2kms away from the Thai border and the company is trying to sell border crossing visas (which can only be gotten at the border). When our turn came, we pushed this point and said we would be fine to get our own visas. Once we said this, we were quickly asked to leave and escorted to the street where we were taken away in a car to the border. Ryan managed to warn the other passengers about the scam but they all fell for it anyway when we saw them on the bus on the other side of the border.


Leaving Thailand was a long, slow, hot process, standing in line for an hour, but obtaining the actual Cambodian visas was very easy. All you had to do was fill out a form and give them $30. The bus onwards from to order to Siem Reap was due to leave at 3:30 and we got through the border by about 3. The bus terminal on the Cambodian side also had a "government currency exchange" office which amazingly 'doesn't charge fees to convert Thai Baht to Khmer Riel'. This seemed a little too good to be true and it was. The exchange rate from Baht to Riel is 1/1.24 but the exchange office was exchanging it for a rate of 1/1.02. (Also, both Khmer Riel and US Dollars are legal tender here. They use both currencies simultaneously and if you pay in one currency, there's a good chance your change will be in a mix of both currencies). Fortunately we didn't get stung here either.


On the bus, we asked the passengers who got their visas from the bus company how they'd fared. They'd all made it through the border with their visas but Ryan thinks their visas are fake. Either way, they paid close to $60 for them and most then lost a lot of money at the urgency exchange as well.


Feeling bad for the others but silently and proudly smug between ourselves, we continued further into Cambodia. I pulled out my iPod and listened to "Holiday in Cambodia" because obviously.


The bus arrived in Siem Reap around 10 and we caught a tuk-tuk to our hostel. The tuk-tuk driver, named Barang, offered to drive use around Ankor Wat the next day so we arranged to meet at 9:30 the next morning.


I thought I was being a high-roller by booking a hostel with a pool but it was a brilliant idea. Even in the cool season, Siem Reap is uncomfortable all the time. It is far and away the most uncomfortably humid place I've ever been. Just sitting by the pool at midnight was enough for me to work up an enormous sweat.


Once we got set up, I checked my Facebook and found a message from the hostel owner in Bangkok saying he'd found my watch and a message from another friend of Ryan and mine from Sydney, Bree, who was in Siem Reap. She came over (she didn't have a pool) and we swum until 1am. It was a long and largely boring, hot, crappy day but Cambodia so far has been totally worth it. Oh well, it's a holiday in Cambodia. It's tough kid but its a life.


  1. SOOOOO JEALOUS!!!!!!!
    How do you find the worlds coolest places?

  2. The food costs are like or go even lower than in now