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Published: February 23rd 2019
On Wednesday, February 13, Stefan and I left Laos and we went by minibus to Siem Reap in Cambodia. It was a very long trip : we started at 8:30AM with a ferry to the main land (we had been on Don Det, one of the 4000 islands), at 9:30 we had a minivan to the border and at 11:30AM another minivan from the border (Cambodian side) to Siem Reap where we would arrive at 6:30PM. We had booked directly with AVT (Asian Van Transfer), the best minivan company to do this trip and we really liked it ; the van was comfortable, the driver good and very friendly and we did several short toilet breaks. It took us about 1 hour to cross the border from Laos to Cambodia and we can only confirm what everyone else says : they try to scam you best they can. When we arrived there was a guy sitting on a desk outside and it looked like he was handing out the necessary forms and stuff and he looked pretty official, so we went to him first. Since I already had my Evisa for Cambodia, I didn’t need the visa on arrival and I
could proceed directly to the immigration officer to get the exit stamp for Laos - they ask 2$ stamping fees BTW. The guy at the desk told me I should fill out the forms (I still had to do that even though I had my Evisa), then give him my passport and 6$ and Stefan had to pay 40$ for his visa. It was all very hectic and it was only after he paid (I hadn’t paid anything yet) that we realized that he was one of those guys who do the visa for you, something we actually had wanted to avoid... In the end it turned out the immigration officers at the Cambodian side ask 35$ instead of the normal 30$ and so, in the end, Stefan had only lost 3$ compared to what he would have paid had he done it by himself. So it wasn’t too bad. Somehow these stupid officers in Cambodia made me pay another 2$ stamping fee to enter Cambodia even though all the people who did the visa on arrival didn’t have to do this... Very annoying! :S Se be aware if you cross this border, it’s a bit expensive.
We arrived to Siem Reap at 6:30PM and AVT organized a free Tuc Tuc for us to our hostel (included in the 20$ we paid for the transport) : awesome! :-D Our hostel, the Cosy Cloud Hostel, was very nice : the beds were comfortable and had curtains, the AC had a good temperature, bathroom was quite clean, staff was friendly and helpful and the common area with pool was very nice! :-D
After our check-in we went to buy a SIM card for Stefan (I didn’t want one since I was only staying 1 week in Cambodia) and then we went for dinner to Try Me where we had a very cheap and absolutely delicious dinner! :-D
The next morning we had breakfast at the hostel (quite okay, but nothing special), then went to Green E-Bike where we rented to electronic bicycles. It was my first time on an e-bike but I’m not a big fan : it’s like driving a very slow e-scooter so next time I would just get a normal electronic scooter which are faster. :-) Still, it was better than going to Angkor Wat by
Tuc Tuc or rickshaw because this way we could go where we wanted when we wanted and we got some exercise (even though that wasn’t much to be fair ^_^). It was always a bit tricky to know how much battery we had left but in the end it all worked out perfectly. :-)
We saw the temples of Angkor in 2 days and I must confess that was quite enough time. You could, of course, have a full week here, exploring everything, but by lunchtime the second time we were quite fed up with temples and I don’t think I want to see any more temples in the close future ... ^_^ Still, the temples of Angkor are absolutely amazing and definitely worth a visit! ‹3
Stefan and I definitely enjoyed our time in Siem Reap, discovering beautiful but often very ruined and deteriorated temples, eating fantastic local food and relaxing in the pool. :-D
My plan had been to go hiking in the jungle or in the mountains close to Siem Reap for 2-3 days, but when I arrived to Cambodia
I discovered that it’s just too hot here for hiking and, besides, it’s very, very dry at the moment and not that beautiful to go hiking. So I decided to change my mind and rather go south to the islands for a couple of days. That’s how Stefan and I came to take a plane on Saturday morning at 8AM from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville. :-)
At the airport, to our surprise, we saw our Swiss friends again whom we had met on our kayak trip on the 4000 islands. Thomas and Tamara were going to Koh Ta Kiev as well (that I knew, they had actually given me the idea to go there) and so we decided to go together. Our plane arrived a bit earlier than theirs and so we waited for them at the airport to take a taxi together to the beach (Sea Garden bungalows) from where the free ferry to our hostels on Koh Ta Kiev Island left. Sihanoukville is absolutely awful and definitely not worth a visit. The beach is nice but even there, there is nothing to do but drink, enjoy the sun and swim. So I would definitely go
to the islands instead of staying on the main land if I were you.
At 11:30AM our ferry to the Ten 103 Hostel left. It was going quite fast and the sea wasn’t very quiet that day so that we were all completely drenched by the time we arrived to our hostel. It didn’t matter, though, it was very hot and the sea water was very refreshing and pleasant. :-)
Our hostel was great, directly at the beach with lots of beanbags and hammocks and an amazing view over the turquoise-blue sea. The staff was mostly volunteers who were there just for free accommodation, drinking lots of alcohol and smoking tons of weed. This means they were absolutely not up to speed and often you had the impression you were actually disturbing them in their holidays when you asked or ordered something... ^_^
The food was good though and there were happy hours for beer and cocktails and they made some pretty good sangria. :-D
On our first day, Stefan and I only stayed on our side of the island, went swimming, had some
beers and cocktails and enjoyed this fantastic place. We definitely deserved a day of quiet and relaxation after the exhausting days in Siem Reap. :-D
The next day, Thomas and Tamara came over (they were staying in a hostel on the other side of the island) and we went snorkelling in front of our hostel and of the Seagarden Hostel (which was next to ours). The sea on their side of the island was full of trash and had lots of big waves, so our side was definitely better for swimming and for snorkelling. Afterwards we had some sangria and some food in our hostel, then some cocktails and some food in the Seagarden Hostel and finally we ended up drinking cocktails, eating pizza and playing cards in their hostel on the other side of the island. :-D Fortunately the Cactus Hostel next to theirs had free boats back to our side of the island at 9PM so we didn’t have to walk back in the night because between both sides of the island lay a dense jungle with - probably - lots of snakes and spiders.
On our last day on Koh Ta
Kiev, we spent the morning swimming, then went to the Seagarden for lunch and cocktails and we finished the day swimming, drinking cocktails and shots and eating a delicious dinner at the Cactus Hostel. Their home made shots were delicious and thanks to the happy hour we tried them all! ^_^
That day Amanda from Finland who was staying in Thomas’s and Tamara’s hostel joined us. She was super nice and a very interesting person : she has Alopecia Areata, a medical condition that makes you lose your hair. That’s why she has no hair and she told me how difficult it is for her to tell people that : most of her friends and colleagues don’t know that she has no hair because she usually wears a wig when she’s not travelling. She told me that many people have this condition and that most of them wear wigs so that nobody knows about it. For me it was the first time I heard about it and it’s very interesting. Maybe someone I know also has this condition and I don’t even know about it?
And that was our time
on Koh Ta Kiev. I loved every second of it and I can only recommend you to go there! It’s pretty easy to get to the islands in Cambodia and it feels just like being in paradise! One of the few undeveloped islands left in Asia that you shouldn’t miss! :-D ‹3
On the 19th, I had to leave Stefan, Thomas and Tamara behind (they were going to Koh Rong Island) because I had to go to Phnom Penh. All of them had about 2 more weeks in Cambodia while I had to go to Vietnam soon, otherwise my time in Vietnam would get too short before I go back to Belgium... :-( I was very sad to go, we had had such a great time together and I will never forget this. I will definitely miss them, especially Stefan with whom I have shared 3 wonderful weeks in Laos and in Cambodia...
Before telling you about Phnom Penh, I have to tell you about my passport problem. Well, I know this doesn’t happen to many people and it sounds actually cool : my passport was
full ! Still, it was very annoying because I would have loved to have the last country on my list in the same passport : Vietnam, but they wouldn’t let me in with only half a page left because Belgium can’t get an Evisa, only a visa on arrival which is a full page (that I don’t have...). I was pretty annoyed but the only solution - if I wanted to get to Vietnam, something that I had to do because I already booked my flight home from there - was getting a temporary passport at the Belgian Consulate... :S Fortunately the consul was super nice and helpful and answered superfast to all my mail ; I even got my passport number a couple of days earlier so I could get the visa approval letter for the visa in advance. :-D Unfortunately he didn’t tell me that the consulate is only open on Tuesdays and on Thursdays from 4PM to 6PM : if I had known that I could have stayed 1 more day with the others at the beach... Well, I learned about that only when I arrived at the main land, just before taking my bus to Phnom
Penh and since I had booked and paid the bus as well as the hostel, there was no turning back.
I arrived pretty late in Phom Penh (10:30PM) because our bus broke down, but the bus ride had been all right, we had even had wifi ! I can definitely recommend Giant Ibis Transport.
The next morning I signed up for a day trip to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and to the famous killing fields. There I learned all about the brutal genocide by the Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge that took place in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 and where about 20-25% of the population was killed. It was brutal and very sad to see. I had already read about this earlier, so I wasn’t that shocked anymore, but still, it’s so sad... :-(
And that’s about it, I didn’t visit anything else in Phom Penh because it’s just a big and ugly city and I didn’t want too visit anything, so I just relaxed at the hostel until I could get my passport the next afternoon and catch the 9PM flight to Ho
Chi Minh, Vietnam.
I liked Cambodia a lot : it’s a very beautiful country, the people are super friendly (much more than in Thailand, Laos or Myanmar) and the food is great. I had only had 1 week there, but I loved every moment of it! It’s a pity that it was so hot and so dry, I guess the best time for visiting this country is at the end of the rain season or at the beginning of the dry season but not in the middle of the dry season.
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