Edit Blog Post
Published: December 23rd 2018
Cambodia rail only restarted this line in 2016 and it runs at weekends only so is still a bit of a novelty
We arrived in Phnom Phen late last night. Heading to the ‘visa on arrival’ desks we were disappointed to find a ridiculously long queue. We needn’t have been - the system is surprisingly quick and efficient. The customs form, visa form and arrivals form were all provided on the plane so everyone had filled out their info. Once at the front of the queue you give them your passport, visa form & passport photo and then go to a different queue to pay & pick up the visa.
It’s only $30 for a tourist visa and there are ATMs where you queue so it’s easy to get cash. Having a foreign visa the ATMs would only allow us to withdraw US dollars and not the local reil.
This meant we just converted some pounds to reil at a currency exchange booth by the baggage collection instead. They’re only used for small transactions here as dollars are king.
Leaving the arrivals area we were pleased to immediately find a sign with our names on from our hotel. They had picked us up in their little tuk tuk. Whilst they have the ‘normal’ tuk tuks we’ve seen elsewhere there also have what
we consider a ‘superior tuk tuk’. This consists of a motorbike with a wooden carriage being towed behind. The roof is much higher and there’s more leg room than in the standard ones.
The hotel (Mowin Botique) is miles away in an obscure part of the city, making it cheaper. We were greeted and checked in without problem. When we tried to confirm our tuk tuk to the train station in the morning we were met with a worryingly blank look. There was also no packed breakfast option (not even a banana could be provided).
Our room was lovely. The shower was disappointingly cold but at least there was tea & coffee available.
To our surprise, in the morning, we had a knock at the door to inform us the tuk tuk was ready to take us to the station. No breakfast but you can’t have everything.
The train station is still very much under construction. Most of the gates were locked when we got there but there was a small gap big enough to squeeze through. The ticket office opens and 6am and we picked up our tickets without issue having pre-booked online.
There are loads
of coffee shops and mini-marts here that opened early so we walked across to the garage opposite the station and lucked out. Fresh croissants, proper French styles ones, were just coming out the oven. Picking up croissants, bread, hot choc & marmalade for breakfast we wondered back to the train.
On board the seats are rather cramped and not particularly comfy. Unfortunately they managed to sell our seats twice leading to some confusion. The couple opposite us were supposed to be on carriage ‘D’ which doesn’t even exist! Luckily there were spare seats so everyone shuffled around and fitted in.
The train left the station late and crawled out of the city. I think cycling would be faster...
It stopped a couple of times en route and the stations had stalls selling drinks, fruit and boiled eggs so we could get some food.
Most of the countryside seen from the train is flat farmland. Predominantly rice fields dotted with palm and banana trees. We could see very skinny oxen tethered and grazing and locals harvesting the crops.
As we got closer to our destination shacks appeared either side of the tracks and piles and piles of stinking rubbish. It was reminiscent of India.
We finally arrived in Sihoukville around 430pm. The taxis from the station are much more expensive than expected ($20 as oppose to the expected $5). But we joined a local couple and shared the cost.
The whole area is a massive construction site at the moment and not at all attractive. You could be anywhere in the world. Even the glorious beaches here need a clean up.
Checking into our hotel we walked along the beach, saw the sunset, and enjoyed a delicious meal in a luxury hotel on the beach. The posh hotels keep their strip of sand spotless. Maybe this place isn’t so bad.
Tomorrow we head to the national park for Christmas. We’ll have no hot water, very limited electricity and no WiFi for 4 days. Let’s hope the place is nice!
Tot: 1.221s; Tpl: 0.046s; cc: 13; qc: 62; dbt: 0.0322s; 1; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.4mb