The road to Angkor!

We had early roll call at the travel agency to catch our bus to the enchanted world wonder, Angkor Wat. We had heard about difficulties getting there from Bangkok, including booking through travel agencies which promise only one transfer at the border as opposed to nearly four different ones by train/bus. There have been reports of this trip taking in excess of 20 hours for a normally 8 1/2 hour journey. Needless to say, we were hoping for the best but ready for the worst. (For more info, shoot us an email)

The ride to the border was excellent, hardly anyone on the comfortable air conditioned bus with seats that went practically horizontal. We slept most of the way before we arrived at the Thai border town to find it quite flooded (literally with water….not people! :)). Locals in the street walking in water knee-high, sandbags everywhere and only the trucks and our bus able to drive. Apparently not unusual for that time of year.

Riding her bike like it’s no thang!

We got some cheap eats at the mandatory restaurant stop. We knew we had to get a Cambodian visa and it was 20 US dollars at the border. Our tour guide was offering somewhere in the range of 40 US dollars to take care of all the paper work ahead of time. We saw this one coming after the many blogs we read, and respectfully declined letting him know we were aware of the actual price. After he talked to everyone else and hearing they all accepted his offer, we were unsure of where that left us, so as he was leaving we stopped him and offered 50 US for the two of us and he unwillingly accepted.

Lunch Break…

We shuffled back into the bus which took us to the border and a man escorted us and some of our bus mates across. It was certainly nerve wrecking crossing into Cambodia, a country that just a few years ago had mass genocide and an evil dictator at the helm. Walking through to Cambodia really reminded us that we were walking into third world. It reminded us a lot of India’s infrastructure… as did their security guards and processing times. We waited in a hot sticky shoebox of a room as we went through the border control for what seemed like forever. Small price to pay for the wonders that lay ahead.

Little kids that sold us friendship bracelets!

In a heap of confusing transfers and pushy guides we eventually made it on to the proper bus which was to take us to Siem Reap, the neighboring town to Angkor and where all the guesthouses and hotels are. Fortunately for us we had worked out where we wanted to stay the days before, because the bus dropped us off at an out of the way hotel hoping to make commission off the riders checking in. They will say anything to get you to stay at the place, including telling you that your guesthouse has closed down or fully booked, when it’s not. We quickly scooted away and along with us was some other backpackers, angrily but justifiably muttering something about the potential tourist trap.

We found a friendly pharmacist along the main strip and his wife called our guesthouse for us and even generously hooked me up with a bandage for my burn from India.

Riding on the Tuk Tuk!

A man came quickly after and brought us to the Golden Takeo guesthouse. We found this guesthouse after hours and hours of research! Everyone seems to be in competition in Siem Reap, but apparently not all the owners are in competition for hospitality towards their guests! We ended up choosing Golden Takeo which is just off the main road, and for only $7 a night we got a King bed with a fan AND toilet paper and towels!! We received free laundry, free breakfast (and this is a mega-huge breakfast….omelet made to order and fresh bread from the bakery), free bicycle rentals, free fish bath massage, and free internet!! I just used free 5 times and i don’t even think i mentioned everything! We couldn’t believe it…the owner, Prom, who happened to be the nicest man and gave us so many other free things, was practically paying US to stay there! The workers were so lovely too! It was by far one of the best places we’ve stayed.

Fish Massage on the Rooftop!

We made sure to hit up the night markets in Siem Reap, and check out the infamous “pub street” along the way. It was hilarious seeing that the buskers on the street were monks playing flute instruments! Every corner we passed, we were seduced with free beer to get fish massages!! ” Only $2 for fish tickle your feet….. and 2 free Tiger beer, free Anchor!!  Haha it WAS tempting, but we continued on our way to enjoy some different haggling!

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Monks in the background :) 

The markets were amazing, and the prices were even better! I managed to find my whole family Christmas gifts! My favorite item was the Cambodian spices wrapped in banana leaf packaging! Then there were the hammocks, jewelry, clothing! I’m still regretting not buying the “Same Same, but Different” shirts…. we asked one lady what it meant, and were told “You’re the same, I’m the same (we’re both human beings), but we’re different!!) I LOVED IT!!


Our time in Siem Reap was short, with most of our time spent at the temples of Angkor. However, in that time, we did gain an understanding of the people! They are all so lovely, they are really really hard workers, and always seem to have a smile on their face! Oh and the CUTEST kids around!! I would love to go back and spend some time volunteering at a school or helping out in some way!

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*Just a side note, you can use US dollars there, so no need to bring the local currency. And most of the ATMs have an option for US dollars.

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One Response to The road to Angkor!

  1. Drew Meyers says:

    My buddy Jerry and I went to ankor wat a few years ago – AMAZING!! Those three days were among my most memorable experiences during the course of all my travels — with a mix of La Tomatina, Santorini, and the Dominican Republic to round it out :)

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