Day 8: Journey to Cambodia

I am in Cambodia. This is my second night. It’s nighttime and sticky, and I am in the foyer of our guesthouse, at one of two ancient computers. The security guy just slipped in, turned on a fan, pointed it at me and then smiled and resumed his post outside. The breeze is life-saving. The mozzies are not.

It was a full day’s travel from Thailand to Siam Reap. We made the first leg by train and it was still dark when we left. The sky lightened into morning as the city unspooled into strange countryside. By 9am it had fiercened into hot day. It was hypnotising to gaze out as the landscape wheeled by, cooled by the wind from the open window, and listen to the anachronistic clatter of the tracks. We made shuddering stops at overgrown stations and metal groaned with the effort of the engine heaving itself back to speed again. I snoozed. Woke. Stared.

6 hours later we arrived in Aranya Prathet. The expected hoard of tuktuks were there, jogging alongside the train as it slowed to tout their business: “Tuktuk, laydeeee?”. How can people JOG in this heat?

The boarder crossing at Poi Pet was unexpectedly simple. There were no touts to confuse you, but there were signs reminding you not to bring weapons into Cambodia, in case you’d forgotten, but there were no security checks so I’m unsure how they’d know. The passport control guy forgot to take my fingerprints, but I reminded him. He laughed.

On the other side, we (my new travel buddy and 2 Germans we’d met) got the bus to Poipet travel centre, and from there Laura and I got a minivan to Siem Reap city centre, 3 hours drive away.

They dropped us off away from the main road in a narrow lane filled with tuktuks, refused to continue to the city centre as planned, got angry when we tried to insist.

We were hot, tired, sticky, dehydrated, covered in dirt from the journey that stained our clothes so badly we ended up throwing them away.Fuck it all. We got out and walked, highly anxious, feigning calm, no idea where we were or where we were going. The sun was low, we had nowhere to stay, and were convinced the tuktuk mafia would hunt us down for refusing the sketchy lift. But we were also AWESOME. The relief when we found ourselves on the map in my guidebook, then navigated our way off the main road and into the town, was immense. Relief grew into excitement as the first guesthouse we tried turned out to be a winner – beautiful, friendly staff and boasting knockdown prices and a pool so cool it made you shiver. After sluising the grime from ourselves, we went out into the night as WINNERS, ate our first Khymer dishes, had a beer, contemplated our triumph.

Not bad at all.

Solo female adventurers – 1
Baddies – 0

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2 thoughts on “Day 8: Journey to Cambodia

  1. davidbrookesuk says:

    Cambodia’s not as scary as people think. Phnom Penh’s where all the nasties are at, and even they stay away from tourists except by proxy (“I got no legs, buy something?”).

    Your experience at Poi Pet was TOTALLY different from ours! We queued for a VERY LONG TIME, the fingerprints guy was disinterested but insistant, and we waited in blazing sun for about two hours before we could even go into the passport check place. It was horrendous. I think it took us longer to cross the border than it did to get there from Phnom Penh.

    At Siem Reap, did they drop you off at the gated “bus station” and try to hold you hostage for tuk-tuks? There’s a desk where they give you a fixed price. They wouldn’t let people out the gate to walk (luckily, because it was quite a long way). I used to get quite pissed off with things like this.

    But you’re there! Hooray! Angkor is amazing. We got the three day pass because there’s so much to see. Then bugger off back to Thailand for more Padh Thai and spring rolls!

    • Sasperella says:

      There wasn’t a gate when we got there, it was just down some backalley. We escaped onto the main road and it took us about 40 mins to find the centre of town. LOVED Siem Reap, LOVED Angkor. Not so much Phnom Phen, though.

      Just arrived in HCMC… let’s see how it goes!

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