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Published: October 2nd 2009
After spending the last few months in Thailand, we were definitely ready for some new challenges, although we were both pretty sad to be saying goodbye to Little Suze and Justin.
The bus that we caught from Bangkok to the border went without any hitches, and seemed to be over before we knew it. Once at the border we had to fill in three separate forms, but there were a few English speaking people there who were all quite helpful, apart from them giving us lots of warnings about being mugged once we got through the border! We had been quite worried about the massive corruption at the border, and although it took quite a while, it all worked out quite well. Once we'd been stamped out of Thailand, there was quite a walk to the Cambodian border post, during which we passed a casino, which must have been there because gambling is illegal in Thailand, although it did seem strange to have a casino in the no mans land between the two border posts.
As soon as we crossed into the Kingdom of Cambodia, we could really feel a difference from Thailand. We could hardly believe the sharpness
of the change. The roads were a lot less modern, as were the vehicles. There were also a lot of signs about child abuse and sex tourism, so that must definitely be a massive issue here that they are trying to address. As the bus we caught made its way to Siem Reap, we also passed fields and farmland with unexploded ordinance signs, which brought to reality for us how recent the country was in turmoil.
We found a guest house in the town called Happy Guest House, and we both really liked how warm and friendly the family were who ran it. Siem Reap itself is quite a small town, that seems really dusty in the day, and yet a few Western bars and restaurants open at night and it completely changes. There was a really goos vibe there that we both really liked.
We made the trip to Angkor Wat to see the temples a few days after arriving at Siem Reap. It was definitely worth the wait because it was amazing. Angkor Wat itself was quite interesting, but the temple that really blew us away was Ta Phom, which is where Tomb Raider was filmed.
It felt magical with all the trees and nature taking over. The faces of Bayon at Angkor Thom were pretty enigmatic as well. We also found a temple that we climbed up, and then when we looked down the steps were as steep as a ladder, which was a bit daunting! We managed to ride on bikes for all of the day and were shattered by the end of it.
Things are a little more expensive in Siem Reap then they were in Thailand, but we have still manged to find some food stalls where we can eat for a dollar. We have also found a pool table that is covered in carpet!
We made a trip to the land mine museum, which to be honest didn't really have much there apart from shelled mines. There were stories of people there, with photographs, that were pretty touching, and made us want to do a lot more to help the situation here. On the trip there, the moto driver took us into the countryside, and it was very beautiful, and amazing to see a different side of life here in Cambodia.
Since we came in rainy season, there
were a few storms. During one storm, the rain was so heavy that our room at the Happy Guest House flooded! All of the staff were running around trying to mop up the water that was pouring from the ceiling. Despite this, the Happy Guest House was one of our favourite places that we have stayed while being away.
We met a Cambodian guy called Richard (actually called Thaol but didn't like to be called that) who took us to see his village. His family invited us in for food, and then we went to the floating village, where all the houses were on stilts and people all have to get around on little boats. We also hired one of these mini boats and went for a trip around the flooded forest, where the water is 7 feet deep, so you are at the tree tops, but in a boat going around them all. It was a really surreal and amazing experience, the kind where you have to pinch yourself to check you're there.
The following evening, Richard invited us both out with him and his friend Tea (as in cup apparently) for dinner. When we arrived at
the place they had in mind, there were neon bulbs all over the building, and two rows of heavily made up, scantily clad girls waiting on red plastic chairs by the door. We thought maybe they'd brought us to some kind of brothel, but it turned out it was just a restaurant, and Richard just picked a girl to sit with him while he ate. During a feast of flogs legs, Richard took the microphone from the stage and treated us all to some Cambodian love songs, which was a bit odd and gave us the giggles! We also went to a club called the Pyramid Club that was done out with mummies and hieroglyphics inside. The entertainment were all on stage singing, but they would abruptly stop and then we heard We Will Rock You by Queen! It was all pretty crazy but we had a good time.
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