Asia | South East Asia | Cambodia | North West Cambodia | Siem Reap – Day 5 – Siem Reap, Cambodia
A l-o-n-g travel day. Up at 5:50 am, I waited for the minibus amidst the remains of the morning after another night before on Khao San Rd. Bottles, cans, scattered about, a few eager vendors starting to string up their wares in their road side stalls and a whole load of pasty looking travelers like me, packs at their feet, looking for an onward mini-bus. My bus finally arrived around 7:15. I was the last of eight others picked up for the trip to Aranyaprathet/Poipet, the Thai/Cambodian border. With the honour of last pick- up, of course came the best seat in the mini-bus: back left corner, over the wheel well.
It was a cramped and steamy ride even with the air-con (more con than air) which only sighed at me from the ceiling vent.
We hit the border about 1pm and proceeded through a plodding process of paperwork on both sides of the border. Dozens of tourists in lines for visas, passport control, health-card check, etc. On the Cambodian side, no less than four different officials stamped, checked and re-checked our documents at different booths. The whole thing took about two hours, and it turns out that getting my passport ahead of time in Bangkok was a waste of time as some of my mini-bus mates did it at the border. We were shepherded onto a slightly larger bus and began our foray into Cambodia.
The border town was a typical Asian border town, a reckless muddy mess with the added confusion of reckless commercial development such as casinos and hotels. Can’t say as I’d be booking my honeymoon there. Once we hit the countryside though the horizon fled to the disappearing point leaving a vast, flat plane of rice-paddy prairie, interrupted by tall curving palms and the occasional hut. Villages lined the road, poor but bustling in the fading evening light. The road itself was not as nightmarish as I had heard it might be, although it was a molar-clicker at times. Actually, in many sections it was being paved and in some spots the paving was finished, the gift of smooth sailing.
We finally rumbled into Siem Reap about 9pm. We were, of course, dropped well out of the centre of town in front of the driver’s favourite payola guest house. The rooms weren’t actually too bad but I wanted to have a look about and hopefully find something more central. One very sweaty, pack-toting hour later, I settled for the Angkor Wat Guest House, had a delicious cold shower, did a quick night-time recon. Walked through what was already a sleepy very dark town, and…collapsed in the cocoon of my mozzie net which wiggled in the wind of the ceiling fan.