You need driver for tomorrow?
14.08.2010 - 16.08.2010 30 °C
We read multiple horror stories about the infamous border crossing of Aranya Prathet - Poipet. We were prepared to be ripped off and had our wits about us.
We took the bus from Mo Chit bus terminal in Bangkok and arrived at the border 4 hours later...no need to take a tuk tuk to the crossing point. We passed through the market ignoring those claiming to do cambodian visas on the thai side, cleared thai immigration and then prepared for the worse...
it wasn't that bad! We filled in a health form, and a gentleman escourted us to the Cambodian Check Point. We were obviously wary of this man guiding us free of charge but we ignored him for the best part. We got to check point to apply for our visas, filled in the form and handed over our passport photos, and then the fun began. There is a sign above the counter quoting the visa price in USD, a valuable asset. First I was asked to pay 1000Bhat (which is around $29) to which i said no - only dollars. Then I was asked to pay $20 and 500 Bhat. No again. Lastly I was asked to pay $20 and 100 Bhat service charge. No dice, I'm not paying service charge, only $20. Victory! I paid my $20, and got my visa, after a wait of around 5mins.
From our understanding, lots of folk have paid the 100bhat "service charge" but it should be noted that you can get through without it, and if you stick to your guns you'll get there!
Onto the next area where we had our passports stamped and ok'd, waited for the free shuttle bus to take you to the taxi rank. I think this was were our gentleman friend who escorted us got his commision, he took us to his taxi office which was no big deal - $12 per person in a taxi to siem reap and we found another two backpackers to share with us. It's cheaper to take the minibus but we were sceptical of it so stuck with the taxi.
We arrived in siem reap taxi office and a tuk-tuk took us to guest house we had booked in advance, much to his objection. Tuk-tuk will try to take you to guesthouse for commision but if you already booked then there isn't much they can do.
We stayed in Rosy Guest House. Great place, great food and staff. Can highly recommend it. About 10mins from pub st, but tuk-tuk are only $1 per person.
Our first full day in town we took it easy. Explored town, booked our bus, escaped the heat at the guesthouse. We went to Angkor Wat for Sunset which was nice...if not a bit busy. Then we went out for dinner and had drinks in Island Bar at the nightmarket. Ace mojitos and a wonderful barman - Pauly - who entertained us with magic card tricks. It's a great bar to escape the madness of the market sellers!
Day two in Siem Reap was temple day. We went to Angkor Wat for sunrise, then onto Angkor Thom and lots of other little temples. It was a long, hot morning with lots of other tourists and stone temples but definetly worth the visit. We got home for lunchtime. We showered, slept and relaxed in the afternoon.
We liked Siem Reap, and were pleasantly surprised. Looking forward to a short stop in Phnom Penh before Vietnam and the final leg of the journey begins. Cambodian history is clear when you look at the local people...many victims of hidden mine explosions, and almost no old people in sight. Shocking to westeners, but just another culture to absorb!