Here is my travel story from our tiring yet enjoyable trip from Cambodia and Bangkok last Feb 2010. With me is my beautiful wife Jen, where we had a great time together and enjoyed each others company though there are mini squabble along the way. The 2 cities are worth visiting (though I read that Siem Reap is a province).
We stayed in Bangkok which is in proximity to the Grand Palace and Dusit Zoo. On our first day Feb 18 we just slept in our hostel to be rejuvenated. Around 6am Feb 19 we got up early to catch the early bus going to Mor Chit station (Central Bus Terminal in Bangkok). We arrive in Mor chit at 8:30 and bought a ticket going to Aranyaprathet (overland border of Thailand) then thru Poipet(Cambodian Border).
The trip lasted more than 4 hours. I was a worried that the bus we rode is not the Bus going directly to the border(it is very rare that Thai people use the English language-all the sign boards and tickets are in Thai language) when the bus stopped-over for the those who have the urge to urinate, I courteously ask our Driver of where we would be heading and presented our bus tickets. He just scratched his head and pointed to the other bus next to us and signed language us to transfer. Luckily upon transferring we met the English couple Andy and Laura from the UK. I asked them where this bus is going and they say its Poipet.
We were on the right track and I told Andy if we could share a Taxi in Poipet because hiring 1 taxi when we get there would cost us USD45.00, if we are 4 we would divide the amount. Upon entering Rong Klua Market were surrounded by beggars and scammers. Andy looked for a bank then asks for the directions going to the border because we do not trust scammer who usually trick Europeans in purchasing costly Visas.
I research in the Internet that Filipinos are exempted from Visas of Thailand and Cambodia but if you encounter a scammer they will force you to buy a Visa for the Immigration. In Aranyaprathet we lined up and got our passports stamped easily then we walked about 3 minutes going to Poipet border. There in Poipet we experienced throes of lining up and getting our passport stamped for 2 hours!! Albeit there are only about 50 pax in line with 3 immigration officers they are purposely slowing the processing because they are hiring scammers who will offer you not to line in exchange for a USD 20 fee. Most of those in lines are Europeans and they are well aware of this scammers.
It’s really a big relief crossing the Poipet border. We were hitch by a free government bus going to the Taxi booth at 2:00 pm. We had great conversations with Andy & Laura exchanging trip experiences as well as advises on how to avoid scammers.
Upon reaching Siem Reap at about 5:00 pm our taxi drove us not directly to Angkor Wat, but to fixers who will try to lure you in booking their Tuktuk for going to the Temples and renting Taxi cab going back to Poipet border. I bargained for the Tuktuk at 12USD from the original fee of 15USD and the Taxi for 30USD. I do not have much time to counter the bargain offered as my mind is somewhat into getting to see Angkor Wat before the sun sets at 6:00 pm. We decided to board the Tuktuk and told him that we will not pay him if I will not see the sunset in Angkor Wat. He drove us into the gate entrance of the Temples for payment of USD20.00 for a day pass.
Siem Reap have many magnificent temples. The climate is a little cooler than the scorching heat we experienced in Bangkok, this is attributable to the Banyan trees and other big trees that surrounds every roadway in Siem Reap. Angkor Wat is beautiful we hurriedly got off the Tuktuk at 5:20 pm for the non stop picture takings ; we are not that addicted to pictures c”,) . Every single shot is so important because when the SUN sets at 6 pm it is time for the temple to closed. Half of the pictures taken in Angkor Wat are a bit vague because it is getting darker. At 6pm it is time to go out of Angkor Wat, I instructed our Driver to drive us to our guest house.
I booked our place in Bangkok and Siem Reap 3 months before our departure. The booking I made in our guest house is Feb 19 instead of Feb 20. I made a mistake in booking because I thought that Feb 19 at 00:00 midnight we will check in but to my dismay the Manager told us that the booking must be Feb 20. After long discussions with the Manager he then decided us to transfer to another Guest house (Arun) because there is no more vacant rooms in Rosy Guest House. We paid only 5USD for one night only. The rooms are clean, with TV and CR with fan, but no Aircon. We decided to stay due to the exhaustion we experienced in travelling from Bangkok to Cambodia and catching Angkor Wat Temple before dusk. I told Jen that we still have lots of time to stroll in Cambodia at night and to go and see the night market. Our Tuktuk (Traysikel) is just waiting for us and he drove us to night market.
Cambodian people are amiable and cheerful despite of their status of being born in a poor country. We strolled in Angkor night market, finding great bargains for souvenirs and other items. In every corner outside the night market you will find people sitting in a mini pool full of small fishes that massages and eat the dead skins on their feet.
Next, we decided to find a restaurant to have a taste of Khmers cuisine. We ended up eating in a street were foreigners are flocking because the foods are more way cheaper than those in Restaurants. While sitting we shared the table with a Korean couple who is a nursing and a mathematician we chatted while waiting for our foods to be served. The guy is a fat man and eats so fast. Our order is not complete it turns out that the first order is not yet done. Two French couple shared the table again the woman is somewhat in her 50’s the man in 20’s she does not like what they ordered that they offered the food to us which we courteously declined (out of hiya). After eating we look for a convenience store to buy some water then paid another Tuktuk for 4000 riel on our way back to our guest house. By the way 1USD is equal to 4,000 riel.
The next day Feb 20 we woke up at 6 am have our noodles cooked in hot water and watch local TV. At 7 am our Tuktuk is waiting outside the driver who drove us yesterday in Angkor introduced another Driver(he said he needs to attend school) who will take us to Bayon, Ta Phrom and Mini Tours(other temples). It took us 30 minutes to arrive at Bayon temple. This temple is majestic because of the carved faces all around the structure. It is the most interesting of all the temple we visited.
I’ve learned that Bayon temple is built in honor of their King. There are so many faces of their King, one facing each cardinal point. The peculiar thing about this temple is that it is built in a circular plan different from the other nearby temples. There are carvings on the walls of dancing women and other intricate designs depicting the people who lived during that era. You need to climb up the ladder to reach the zenith and see the picturesque beauty of this temple.There are lots of tourist some have guides who tells stories about the history during the time the temple were built. We bumped into a local policeman who taught us a camera trick like kissing one of the faces “vis a vis” in the camera. It was a thrilling experience in Bayon. I cannot wait to see our next destination.
It is already 9:45 am time to go to Angelina Jolie’s Ta Prohm temple(Tomb Raider Movie). We arrived there at 10:00 am. You will walk for about 3 minutes in a roadway like forest. You will cross the bridge and will shortly see the façade of the temple. There are Banyan trees everywhere, it was like this temple was attacked by giant alien trees. Majority of the trees roots are so huge that we looked so miniscule in the pictures. They are centuries old and have been witness to many civilizations that has passed.
til next (for day 3 and 4)…