Like I said in my previous blog, our trip to Siem Reap was such an ordeal, that’s because we were ripped-off.
We had already pre-booked our land transfers in Saigon through one agency. But when we got to the bus company office (where we were to board) , a very dilapidated sleeper bus met us. It looked very far from the brochure shown to us. Brand new units, with TV, Wifi, charging outlets on each bed, and a comfort room. To think, we paid extra $5(US) for each person compared to the regular fair of $10, for a total of $15. All the other passengers were very angry too.
The exterior was quite doable, but the interior looked like it came from being an abandoned vehicle on the street side. Very dusty, the comfort room was closed out becuase it was not working, and there was trash everywhere. But Filipinos are used to stuff like that right? So we somehow tried to make ourselves comfortable as we would only be on the bus for 8 hours anyway, we could just sleep our troubles away. Thank God there was Wifi, and it was working! That’s just the most important thing. But the moment we left, we were all wondering why the connection was suddenly lost. Turns out to be, that was only the company office’s Wifi we were using, and that our bus really didn’t have any Wifi at all! Grrrrrr.
On the bottom bunk, we never saw how the road from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap looked like as we were traveling at midnight. It was very bumpy though because it had rained very hard a few hours prior to our trip (remember the rain in Phnom Penh blog entry?). Also, at that time, they were in the process of asphalting/concreting the road, so I guess that’s why it was very bumpy. I personally don’t have any problem sleeping in turbulence or in so much noise.
I was able to wake up early and it was already sunny outside. When I looked out the window, we were already nearing the bus stop where we would get down. The stop was just opposite Pub Street, separated by a canal/river. When we took out all our luggage from the trunk, everything had turned to red as Cambodian soil is quite red (like that used for pottery).
Same goes. Many tuktuk drivers would be waiting, so don’t forget to haggle and try not to get ripped off…yet again. We were very blessed to have met an English-speaking driver who at the same time, works as a driver and tour guide for some tour agency in Siem Reap. He was also very gracious enough to give us a good rate for 2 tuktuks, to just drive us to our prospect hotel, to the 3 main temples at Angkor, around the small city, and back to our hotel.
Siem Reap is just very beautiful. Like my friend had said, “Boracay without the beach.” Many high-end resorts, and backpacker hostels around the city. I suggest you find a hotel/hostel just around the area where Pub Street is, as that’s where the party’s at. Lots of shops, restaurants, bars, and street food too. That’s also where their large market is, so you can maybe grab some traditional fabric and souvenirs.
We started our day by checking-in at our hotel, Bayon Shadow Villa, then got ready to visit the temple complex of Angkor. The road going to Angkor Wat is very picturesque , with so many giant, century-old trees, and cute monkeys on the roadside. You stop by the entrance gate/office where you pay $20/pax for a day pass.
Approaching the main temple, I was just mesmerized by how massive and majestic it was. To think, I was only seeing the lagoons and the outer wall! So can you imagine the look on my face when I was already inside! The iconic 5 spires, its large stone blocks, intricate carvings, and the colorful, ancient history that looms the place–Heaven!
The second temple we visited was the Bayon Temple. It’s a themed temple with hundreds (if not thousands) of smiling faces carved out all throughout the structure. It was undergoing extensive repairs at that time we went. Unfortunately, construction materials don’t look too good on photos.
Last, was the Ta Prohm Temple. Probably the most eerie one for me. It had become a very popular spot after Angelina Jolie filmed her Hollywood movie, Tomb Raider, in there. Monstrous trees with exposed roots fill the temple, through and through.
Angkor has got to be one of the hottest places on earth! I wasn’t just sweaty. I was literally wet, like I just came from the shower. A large bottle of cold water is the best thing to have in there. And oh, caps, sunglasses, and a hand towel.
After our visit to Angkor, our tuktuk driver dropped us off at the market by Pub Street. There we shopped for souvenir items, and some traditional silk fabric. Roamed around Pub Street and had authentic spicy curry for dinner in one of the restaurants. It’s also so amazing to see many excellent Filipino workers in the vicinity, bands, waiters, cooks, etc. Makes me so proud!
We left Siem Reap for Bangkok early, the next day.