Travel log 12: Cambodia
This leg of my trip has been a whirlwind and the most challenging so far. Thankfully I convinced a guy from Kentucky I met in Chiang Mai to come to Cambodia with me, because after the stories I read online I was a little worried about the border crossing. I organized our trip to the border and prepared myself for all the various scams that take place there. We made it through the Thai border with no problems. The Cambodian officials tried to get an extra 100baht from me when I was getting my visa, but I told them I didn't have any baht and handed them the $20. He dropped it after a few tries. We arrived through the other side and took the free bus to the area where we could either take a public bus for $9 or a taxi for $12. We would have to wait for the bus to get full before leaving and it took longer, so we opted for the taxi. They said they would take us to the bus station, which was fine because I had already booked a guesthouse that would pick us up there. We drive 2 hours to Siem Reap and the taxi tries to take us to a spot out of town where some tuk tuks are standing by. I demanded that he take us to the bus station or our hotel but he just ignored me. The tuk tuk drivers would only take us to the hotel for free if we promised to use them tomorrow. I explained how we already paid the taxi to take us where we needed to go and we would not be paying anything else. They wouldn't have it and kicked us out of the tuk tuk. Thankfully the hotel nearby let us use their phone so we could call our hotel to pick us up.
We were welcomed at our hotel with cold towels and a delicious welcome drink. Hotel 89 was the best place I stayed in my 3 months of traveling. The rooms were nice, far enough away from the crowds but close enough to walk, free water, free breakfast, nice staff, free bicycles, and free wifi. It was nice after staying in hostels to be in a clean hotel with comfy beds and an beautiful view.
We took the bikes for a spin and woke our butts up at 4:30am to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. It was pitch black and we weren't the only ones with the same idea! But it wasn't too packed so we were happy we woke up early. A one day pass is plenty unless you are a serious archeological junkie. We looked at 4 temples including the most exciting, Ta Phrom, which has trees growing through it. It was spectacular to see!
We were back at our hotel by 10am for the free breakfast and didn't feel the need to go back to the sites in the afternoon. Next we headed to Phnom Pehn which is the big city of Cambodia. It's crazy here and touristy in certain areas where you get constantly harassed. We saw some cool sites, temples, etc and ate at a few good restaurants.
We were getting sick of the city so decided to head to the beach of Cambodia, Sihanoukville. Much less touristy and less harassment on the street by tuk tuk drivers. Our bus had to stop 3 miles outside the city center because of a big car accident, so we sat for about 30 minutes before deciding on taking a motorbike taxi to our hotel. The hotel was a few blocks from the beach, fairly quiet, and had a very nice pool. We stayed here for 4 days and then decided to head to the Thailand beach Koh Chang. More about that soon!
The most awesome thing I did in Cambodia was visit a waterfall that had lovely swimming holes and picnic areas with hammocks you could rent. We rented a motorbike and went super early on a Sunday. It was packed with Cambodians enjoying the water and having picnics. We were the ONLY white people there and it was so lovely! I swam and splashed around with the kids and lounged in the hammock. Heaven.
The longer I stayed there, Cambodia started to grow on me and the countryside is really beautiful. But food was hard to get, we were constantly bothered on the streets, poverty is high and the transportation system is seriously lacking. I had good times, mostly because I had someone to share it with, but this is my least favorite country I visited in my travels.