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open mind, empty stomach

travel, food, and fun

Siem Reap was a breath of fresh air after Bangkok. The journey there, the border crossing in particular, is supposed to be a little challenging; it was. My research indicated that getting to the Cambodian side of the border was the difficult part, then you’re home free. For me, it was the opposite. Once I passed through customs, an official government guide showed me to the free shuttle bus that takes people to the bus terminal. The terminal had no ATM, a vicious exchange rate, no change for dollars, and was a good introduction to how the Cambodian government conducts business. There were 3 options for getting to Siem Reap: the bus, a taxi, and a minivan. I was trying to take the minivan, but it left while I was in line to buy a ticket. I was told that there were no more taxis or minivans, but the bus was leaving “right now.” I bought my ticket and hurried to the bus. The bus left over an hour after I boarded… It takes 3 hours to get to Siem Reap from the border, this includes a “mandatory” 30 minute stop at a restaurant. The restaurant had an English menu with french fries that cost $4.50 on the cover. Despite being extremely hungry, I did not order any food. I met a couple that had also refused to participate in this debacle. They were really cool and I spent a lot of time with them while in Siem Reap. Eventually, we made it to Siem Reap and were freed from government operated exploitation. We stayed at the Popular Guesthouse, which there friend and my official guide had recommended. It was $12 for an ac room and $7 for a fan room; wifi didn’t work in the rooms. Siem Reap was really small and had a nice vibe to it, especially compared to Bangkok. It was extremely walkable and most everything was in a centralized area. My official government guide was also a tuktuk driver and he spotted me at the guesthouse and would be my tuktuk driver for the Angkor ruins. If you purchase your 1 day pass after 5 pm, you can go to Angkor and watch the sunset, then have your pass start the next day. I did this, but the sunset wasn’t very good at all. The following day I did the short loop and the long loop around Angkor. The temples were amazing. I went to Angkor Wat for the sunrise, but it was not colorful at all. I really liked the temples that had trees growing in and through them. I wore my vibram five fingers trek sports and all of the tuktuk drivers were in awe. They looked at me like I was a God with individual toe compartments on my shoes. It ended up being $25 for the short and long loop, which took me less than 6 hours to do. Later I would find out that this was a huge ripoff. The driver didn’t have change either, neither did the guesthouse… They tried to tell me the exchange rate for Thai baht was waaaay worse that it was. I had enough of getting taken advantage of and checked out of the guesthouse. I went to a crappy place a few doors down that was only $3 a night. The tuktuk driver and first guesthouse were the only bad things about Siem Reap. The rest of the experience was terrific. Food and drink was relatively cheap. They had 50 cent beers at many restaurants and food was $2-8 for a meal. They had “happy” pizza all over the place as well. For $2 you could have tiny fish eat dead skin off of your feet for 20 minutes and get a free beer. After a liquid lunch, I tried this with the couple I was with and it was really funny. I’m extremely ticklish and apparently so were Haze and Al. It was a 20 minute giggle fest. I could have stayed in Siem Reap much longer, but moved on after 4 days. I really enjoyed my time there.

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