Traveling to Siem Reap, Cambodia
I woke up a bit dizzy from last night’s adventure and really had a hard time getting up. It’s always a pain when you are traveling with a headache and a strange feeling in your stomach. Anyhow, I managed to get a cab to the bus station. There are a couple of big bus stations in Bangkok and I was lucky enough that the cab driver knew which one to go to. I got on the bus at 11:30; not a nice bus this time but good enough and with air con. The roads were much better and even though my stomach was not really good, I had no trouble at all. I met a Canadian in the bus and we quickly decided that we would team up and travel together. It’s what everybody; you save money and you somehow feel safer.
We reached the final stop at around 4pm and from this city Aranyaprapet to the border it was only about 10 minutes by Tuc Tuc. We teamed up with a guy from Laos who was doing a Visa run. A Visa run is basically a quick run to the border and back because your visa expires after some time (30 days in Thailand).Anyhow, we were close to the border and the Taxi already stopped to buy a Visa a bit earlier. I had read online that you shouldn’t do that because you’d get ripped off, so I told the guy that we wanted to keep going. We naturally felt smart, but you have no chance when you go there the first time, the scammers will catch you somehow.
So this is how it worked out for us. First off we stopped right ahead of the border, we were told that they do the Visa for you, which they do. Then they helped us fill out the paper work. The price we paid was 1200 Baht for the Visa and 200 Baht fine for not having a picture. I had to go to the bathroom and a guy actually escorted me there. He told me that he would drive me there because it’s a a couple hundred meters. Also when we said that we wanted to go eat, they even offered us free food, just so we would not be picked up by competing scammers I assume. So the guy drove me to the bathroom on the scooter and then I told him that I would walk back. He insisted to drive me but I still managed not to hop on. Because of this, I was able to actually see an official office briefly and asked for the price of a Visa. They told me that it’s 1200 Baht without a photograph, so I am comforted a bit and felt that I was not getting ripped off.
The trouble began after this, if you want to call it trouble. First we were told that there were barely any ATMs in Siem Reap and it’s hard to pick up cash at all, so you need to get Thai Baht before entering the country. Anyhow, we picked up plenty of Thai Baht. There are plenty of ATMs in Siem Reap, but they want you to get Thai Baht and you’ll see why. After picking up the cash, one guy helped us across the border, basically escorting us to his friend/brother etc. who is a taxi driver. They offered us the best rate, which is $45 but then again because they never leave you alone, you can’t really compare that rate. There are two buses per day from Poipet (the border town) to Siem Reap and because they leave much earlier, these guys only show up at the border later during the day, and catch the tourists that do not have a choice. Once across the border the guy who walked with you demands a $5 tip and then you hop in the car. About 100 meters later he pulls over and tells you to exchange money “very cheap”. You can imagine how cheap it is, when that’s his uncle or some other clan member. We kept driving and told him that we did not want to exchange. He’ll get that money anyway, because if he converts the Baht to dollar, he will simply get you a bad rate. Ivan had plenty of dollars, so we did not fall for that trap. Driving to Siem Reap was quite a ride. There is so much poverty and the road is practically a big dirt trail that has some very deep holes. I have no idea how that Toyota Camry from Japan was holding up. The driver explained to us that no other car could survive that road, he apparently had tried a Land Cruiser and that didn’t work. He said that Jeeps would break and even the US version of the Camry would fall apart. Like I said, I have no clue how that car did not break down. After about 2 hours, he pulled over and we stopped at someone’s shop, probably another place he gets commissions from when he brings people. Before we arrived in Siem Reap, we were told that he would take us to a hotel and we should just use the Internet briefly and look at the room, then he would get a commission. Anyhow, at the end we arrived a bit exhausted from the trip, it took 4 hours from Poipet to Siem Reap and the road was amazingly bad. The hotel we were driven to was actually alright and because we were tired, we did not look at other places. The taxi driver again received his nice tip, some 5 bucks and then finally we could relax in the room a bit before going out. The interesting part of this is not that you are getting ripped off terribly, it’s just that it’s really amazing how once you have entered their little circle they take over and make the decisions for you, they come talking to you so fast that you have no chance to react and you are basically taken to as many places as possible where you can leave some dollars. Very smart guys and very well organized…
Things about Siem Reap you may be interested in
1. Aug 18, 2007 Arriving back to Bangkok (Bangkok) ( 13)
2. Aug 19, 2007 A little more of Bangkok (Bangkok) ( 31)
3. Aug 20, 2007 Still in Bangkok (Bangkok) ( 31)
4. Aug 21, 2007 Adventures in Ao Nang (Muang Krabi) ( 7)
5. Aug 22, 2007 Railay Beach - Nice Place (Ban Khlong Yang) ( 63)
6. Aug 23, 2007 The best beaches and islands of Thailand (Krabi) ( 87)
7. Aug 24, 2007 A quick stop and great food in Surat (Surat) ( 11)
8. Aug 25, 2007 Koh Tao - My favorite Thai island (Ko Phangan) ( 72)
9. Sep 4, 2007 From Koh Tao via Chumpon to Bangkok (Bangkok) ( 52)
10. Sep 5, 2007 Back again in Bangkok (Bangkok) ( 185)
11. Sep 9, 2007 Traveling to Siem Reap, Cambodia (Siem Reap)
12. Sep 10, 2007 Siem Reap, like in the tales (Siem Reap) ( 71)
13. Sep 12, 2007 Experiencing Angkor Wat (Puok) ( 204)
14. Sep 13, 2007 Great days in Phnom Penh (Phnom Penh) ( 81)
15. Sep 14, 2007 Adventurous vacation in Sianoukville (Sihanoukville) ( 39)
Start from beginning | 1 - 15 Journal overview
Siem Reap, like in the tales
Recommended Phnom Penh Guide
Phnom Penh hasn’t been the capital of Cambodia for long, at least not in historical terms. King Ponhea Yat founded Phnom Penh in 1422, after abandoning Angkor Wat. He settled for strategic place, both from a political and an agrarian point of view. In the 15th century, the country’s economy was based on agriculture, and the city’s position at the confluence of three rivers, Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap. The region was also favourable for trade, and the new city quickly became a centre for trade and manufacture. The kings that succeeded Ponhea moved the capital several times, but Phnom Penh remained one of the country’s... Read more »
Recent reviews for Siem Reap
Siem Reap, like in the tales - Sep 10, 2007, by MadSuh
Arriving late in Siem Reap did not give us too many choices. I was a bit hungry so I decided to stop over at the little market across the street and have some dinner. Bad mistake, it seems like the food in Cambodia may not be as clean as it... Read more »
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