I got up lazily at 6, oh wait, 0559hrs. There was a voice in my head who told me to sleep that extra one minute off till the alarm sounded. But I was too excited and nervous at the same time for our third day on this trip, so I didn’t! I woke up one minute early! Today, we crossed the Thai borders to Siem Reap, Cambodia!
Itinerary: Siem Reap, Cambodia.
We had a simple and easy breakfast, cup noodles, in our room. We checked out and left the hotel at 0735hrs, then headed to Heha Complex and reached there at the appointed 8 am. There was a van that came at 8:15 to pick up people going to Cambodia but somehow, they left us for reasons I didn’t know. The driver and the person from the travel agent were discussing something in Thai and were busy calling out on their phones. For one thing, I saw the van was full! And they probably couldn’t fit another 3 passengers. So when the van left at 8:30, I was pretty worried.
I followed the travel agent who looked troubled in the office and asked what was wrong. He kept saying “no problem! No problem!” And said that another van would come in 10 minutes. I told him that he better keep his words. There were a few more phone calls made. I spoke to who ever on the line and told him that the van better come! I woke up early for this and couldn’t have any delay! I just hate sudden change of plans.
Fortunately the van did come. It was the same one. Turned out, there were still vacant seats in there! I kept wondering what was wrong before, but I guess no point to wonder now. I quickly grabbed my bags and got on the van before it left again. Although the seat was pretty tight for a fat person like me but it was okay because we were on our way to Siem Reap, Cambodia! That was 0845hrs.
We had two 10 to 20 minutes stops for the van to fill its gas and reached Aranyaprathet at 1300hrs for administration stuff. The tour agent helped us to fill up the immigration forms and settled visas for those who needed visa to enter Cambodia. I only had to pay THB100 for his assistance or what he called as tax.
Don’t worry having too much Baht when entering Cambodia. This was what our guide told us when crossing the Thai-Cambodian borders: Changing Baht to Riel is better than Dollars to Riel. There’s 15% commission when changing from Dollars to Riel. And the ATMs charges 8-9% to draw, not Riel, but USD. Furthermore not many ATM available in Cambodia and credit card purchases are rare.
Interesting thing happened to me at Thai immigration. The immigration officer flipped through my passport pages fiercely and asked for my Visa. I told him that Singaporeans don’t need visa here. I even told him about ASEAN 😌. Why, oh, why do I know more than the officer? He needs to do his homework. Or was he asking for money?
Anyway the immigration process was pretty simple. The first picture below is the Thai border. Get your passport stamped after this gate. Then walk straight towards the Cambodian border. You will walk on the Friendship Bridge in the second picture. After the bridge you’ll see the the gate in the third picture. The immigration is right after the gate and Poipet Casino.
At 1625hrs we were done with immigration stuff and headed from Poipet to the bus station, where our tourist bus waited for us, by free shuttle bus. It took about 5 minutes to reach. I changed all my Baht to Riel there because I wouldn’t be needing any Baht during my stay in Cambodia. We then transferred to our tourist bus and headed towards Siem Reap at 1725hrs. Didn’t know why they took so long to get the bus moving.
At 1850hrs, we stopped for dinner at a restaurant that was very dimly lit. I paid KHR14000 (SGD4.50) for a fried noodle and iced tea with milk. The noodle was okay and the iced tea was too sweet. But overall I was satisfied to have those for dinner. We continued our trip at 1945hrs.
We reached the bus terminal at Siem Reap at 2113hrs and reached our guest house at 2125hrs by tuktuk. We got a very nice tuktuk driver/tour guide who speaks very good english. He offered us a deal at USD10 per person to take us to our guest house and around Siem Ream tomorrow! His name is Va and he is also a farmer. Hopefully he stays that nice till the end of our trip here.
Along the way, I met people from London, Australia and Chicago. They were friendly. It took me quite sometime to converse with them because we only spoke to each other after being on the same bus for four hours. To suddenly have active conversation felt a little bit forced to me. But it was fun to meet Max from London who has been traveling from Bangkok to Cambodia a few times and Steph with her friend from Australia and Chicago who got tricked to pay extra THB200 for the same trip as us.
So remember that bargaining at Bangkok has no limit. If you dare, which I didn’t, bargain for possibly every goods and services in Bangkok.
Itinerary for tomorrow: Sunrise at Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, pub street, night market. Aaaah! so many places to visit but so little time! I hope I get to visit many places tomorrow!