Today was a big day of travel, we took a bus from Phnom Penh to Siam Reap. We used a company called Giant Ibis, these guys have a very good safety record and offered a great service for around $15US each for the 6 hour trip. Whilst the bus seats were not overly comfortable, the staff were great and it was well worth the 6 hours just to see the countryside and see how Cambodians live who are not located in the heart of Phnom Penh. I feel that if you were to fly this leg you would miss out on a very worthwhile experience.
To my surprise the roads were all sealed and not overly bumpy however the roads are also swarming with people doing whatever speed they like, some were too slow and some were speeding. The bus and cars beep their horn if you are not going fast enough, indicate and then just go into the wrong lane to overtake. This is fine except they don’t care if there is oncoming traffic or not, the bus just overtakes on the wrong side of the road. Normally this would make you feel pretty unsafe however these guys had it under control the whole time and we felt safe for the entire journey, this is Cambodia driving at it’s finest. There were an incredible amount of things to see from the bus window that you would never see if you went by plane. On the side of the road you can see locals working at fruit stands, selling meat, carving stone, making something with a big piece of wood (not sure what that was exactly, maybe flour?) and also the houses where the locals live. While the housing and people did not look rich in a sense that they were flushed with cash, they were rich in the sense that they are happy with what they have. It really makes you wonder if the western world is doing it right!
Some other interesting facts about our drive to be noted are included in the images at the end of this post. A man installing power cables with a rope around his waist, standing on a live electrical pole and a man in a van with about 20 people laying down on his motorbike, which was hanging out the back of the van roped up. Another photo shows a standard van layout with the back door roped down to allow more cargo or people to fit in.
Upon arrival in Siam Reap we loaded our bags into a tuk tuk and we jumped in a second tuk tuk to head to the hotel. We were taken to the wrong hotel where the driver misunderstood the hotels name. His mate had a look at our paperwork and and figured out where to go, he then proceeded to give his mate a hard time as he had made a ‘lulu’ (boo boo). We then took off in the other direction to our hotel. We drove up a not so nice looking street and turned onto a secluded dirt road, we drove to the end and the drivers stopped and started to look at each other having no idea where they were. A minute later a man walked out of a door, we had driven about 10m past the hotel entrance. We finally arrived and went into our absolutely amazing accomodation called Image D’ankor. This guest house is lined with wood and plants and feels like a secluded getaway, the best part is that it is about 7 minutes tuk tuk ride to get into the main parts of the town where things such as the markets and restaurants are. In the other direction you can head to the temples, this is in the perfect location.
We went out tonight to check out the Made in Cambodia or King Street markets. These markets are very relaxed with not too many people and are in a really nice part of town. The markets are all hand made products and a portion of all proceeds to go charity. This market is well worth a look, we did make some small purchases from here. Around the market are a selection of restaurants including Hard Rock Cafe.
Once again we have had an amazing day and seen so much of this awesome country. Tomorrow we are heading out to see the floating villages and have a bit more of a look around the city. Having the best time and will most definitely return!