Lost In Siem Reap

Trip Start Dec 26, 2010
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Trip End Feb 03, 2011


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Where I stayed
Green Town guesthouse

Flag of Cambodia  , Khétt Siĕm Réab,
Sunday, January 16, 2011

An early moto ride out to my bus pickup point at 730am to Siem Reap. The annoying moto driver was insistently touting guesthouses in Siem Reap which I continually declined. All these while pillion riding on his moto. Sensing that he was not getting any business out of me, he dropped me off at the wrong bus company station and scootered off. It was another dollar to get to my bus station 400 metres away.
 
The lunch stop at Skuon was initially part of my Cambodia highlight - fried tarantulas. But alas! This stop was on the outskirts of Skuon and only proper cooking was available. I was pretty peeved. A change of my schedule on my way back to Phnom Penh to visit Skuon proper, was in the works.
 
The arrival at Siem Reap bus terminal in the outskirts reminded me of Ho Chi Minh City - every tuktuk drivers scruffling to take you to town. Mine was Pov. He spoke good english and looked honest. The 7 km trip to town for US$1, was not the catch. The main catch was giving Pov the opportunity to hire him for all the Angkor site visiting services. I was relunctant but other options were not available.
 
My choice of guesthouse - Phrom Roth - was full when we arrived, so Pov brought me to Green Town guesthouse outside of town, nearer to the Royal Palace. Room was rudimentary with cold water shower and fan but for US$5, it was a steal. I did not realise that wifi was available when I used the in house internet at a speed that was so Year 2000.
 
With a wrong interpretation of the Siem Reap map, I set out east along National Road 6, thinking it was leading me to town. Every landmark I saw was completely out of place on my Lonely Planet map. I was so lost I even mistaken an outskirts market for the Old Town market. The further I went the more disorientated I was , to the point that I was pretty pissed off at myself. Retracing my route, I managed to return to Green Town guesthouse after fending of countless pesky tuktukies.
 
Enjoying my fresh chilled coconut drink, I casually asked about options to visit Prasat Preah Vihear up in the remote north and out popped Bopha, a travel agent having a manicure at the hair salon next door. Bopha convinced me that the normal route to my destination was via Tbeng Meanchey, which basically was the longer route, not even including a 90 km moto ride to Sra Em, the second closet town to Prasat Preah Vihear. So I got her number and promised to call when I decided which route I prefer. The other option was via Anlong Veng, a more direct route but through a rather politically uncertain region. I also cannot confirm due to the lack of cash and it was Sunday.
 
Night time in Siem Reap town centre was alot more happening than I had anticipated - alot like Khaosan Road, Bangkok. Cuisine was international and falangs were everywhere. One common feature along the main strip Sivatha Bvld, was the fish massage therapy where you soak you feet in an aquarium and feed small fishes with your smelly dead skin cells. Twenty minutes for US$2 and comes with a free can of beer! Passing Heart of Angkor guesthouse, I managed to reserve a US$6 room, due to its proximity to town centre, however, failed to foresee the level of disco/pub music noise from next door. But that is tomorrow's news.
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