Wednesday, August 24, 2005

welcome to cambodia!

So if you were wondering, i am indeed still alive and currently in phnom penh.

Left Bangkok with Kirk last friday on the 5:55am train to aranyaprathet. quite a lovely journey really, very scenic - and only 48baht! arrived there about 11:20 and took a saengtaew to the border for 10baht. there you get to wait in line to get stamped out of thailand and then walk across a 50 or 100m wide strip of land where all the casinos are, then pay a bundle for your cambodian visa and get stamped into their country. we were hassled much less then anticipated. just kept walking in the same direction that elliott did when he got his pickup. hooked up with this couple - Vern from S africa and Telli from canada and eventually a lone japanese kid looking for company who we just called 'Tokyo' never really found a proper pickup but one did eventually stop and say they'd drive us to sisophet for 50 baht each. however, i may not have mentioned this but cambodia is pretty corrupt place and the 'officials' at poipet had decided to make it illegal for foreigners to travel via pickup - only taxi or their crappy buses. so just on the edge of town at the police checkpoint, the correct amount of money didn't change hands. our truck turned around and drove us into town, but when it stopped it was at a motorbike stand. there they had us each get on a moto and get driven out of town past the checkpoint to meet the truck down the road. jumped in and we were off! sat in the back, very bumpy, the road probably hasn't been paved since wwI. lots of pothole dodging. but good company at least. our real problem came in sisophet where elliott said he didn't have to wait too long for a truck but for us there were very few. after waiting nearly 2.5 hrs for the truck we chose to keep finding stuff to load in the back we caved in and decided to pay $5 each for a taxi the rest of the way. all squished in, we decided that it had been a good decision as soon as it started storming. plus the road the rest of the way to siem reap was even worse - just dirt track really. for another 2.5 hrs or so. but we made it!

sat morning then kirk and i met up with the guide recommended by Alan and Joyce Welch. Ban Chantla did an excellent job - knew about everything and him driving us around kept us motivated to see all the main temples. Long days in the sun but Angkor Wat really is amazing! too bad tourism is really picking up. in a few years there will no doubt be regualations/limitations all over the place. Went all over the place, covered a lot of ground and learned a lot of history. on the 3rd day we spent half of it visiting the vietnamese floating village on the lake. interesting, but also a rip off. really most of cambodia is just trying to separate you from as much money as possible. the worst is that you have to work in 3 currencies - the us dollar, thai baht, and cambodian real (which is play money really) ah well.

so our last night in siem reap was monday. unfortunately i started feeling a bit under the weather but am recovering quickly. on tuesday, i set off on a bus to phnom penh with vern and telli while kirk flew back to bangkok to catch his flight home. its just been ridiculously hot and dusty here, so i admit i haven't moved much from the fans in the guesthouse. tomorrow i'm forcing myself out though to see the killing fields and the prison s-21. not exactly real positive but thats kindof how cambodia is. a bit depressing. a bit corrupt. thailand definitely wins in my opinion and hopefully not just cause i'm a bit sick (i was due - we figured out that every other american in our group had had something to take them out for a couple of days!) at any rate, i fly to bangkok on friday and home on saturday! see you all soon!!

1 comment:

Hannah said...

Emma!! Well I finally broke down and google stalked everyone bc I'm super bored here at school...and what do you know, I found your blog. Sorry you got sick but glad to hear you guys survived Cambodia - I wish I could have come! Anyway have a good trip home, I'll talk to you soon!

~Hannah