We had booked a bus 100 m from our hotel in Battambang to go to Siem Reap. For only $4,50 each and we would be picked up at the booking office. The next morning after we had bought some lunch for on the road a pick up bus with only seats along the length of the bus picked us up and brought us to the busstation. From there we drove to Siem Reap, with according to us a very big detour, which was necessary though since there is no straight road from Battambang to Siem Reap. Halfway we made a stop and I went to the toilet, Michael stayed in the bus. When I came out of the building the bus was gone.. and with only my flipflops, jumpsuit and glasses on I tried to look for our bus. I thought I had found it on the parking across the road, there were 3 busses standing there which looked all similar to ours. But when I walked around them the busses were all disassembled and the inside was more looking like a camper then a bus…. Then two passengers who were in our bus as well caught my eye. An older man and a guy around my age. The older guy was able to tell me that the bus was driving a round through the village and coming back soon. So I patiently waited. At one point the older guy was giving me his phone saying my boyfriend was worried about me. Michael was able to reach me through the wife of the man standing next to me. He was worried that I was going to search for the bus and told me that the bus was coming back, which I knew already but it felt nice that he worried about me.
After 30 minutes or so we were picked up again and reunited. I think this was the longest time being separated for a while in the last few months ;).
Around 15.30 we arrived in Siem Reap, plenty of tuktuk drivers waiting for us while we tried to take our luggage out of the bus. We took one who drove us and 2 other Dutch people to our hotel for $1 per person. While the others were asking for more.
The rest of the day we relaxed a bit and had some food at an Indian where we met our tuktukdriver for the next 3 days Ankor Wat and decided to see the sunrise the next morning.
Our alarm went off at 4:00 and at 4:30 our tuktuk driver Sarak picked us up to go to the ticket office of ankor wat. The lines in front of the booths were growing already and the booths weren’t even open yet….. When we got our tickets we got back in the tuktuk and we were able to enter the area of Angkor. From there it was a 15 minute drive to the Angkor Wat temple and in the pitch black we followed the other people to a sort of pond. From there we would be able to see the sunrise, but for the moment it was still pitch black. Although it was still super dark you could notice that there were a lot of people around the pond the chatting and camera flashes (no clue why because the flash couldn’t reach the buildings at all) showed that around 1000 people were curious to see the sunrise. We sat on a rock aside from the river for an hour or so, while the sun came up. It was spectacular and really cool to see the contours of Angkor wat for the first time while the sunlight showed more detail by the minute.
That day and two days after we saw over 10 different temple complexes which are all part of the Angkor area. Amazing how much detail is still preserved after 1200 years. Angkor Wat is the biggest and main temple of the area and for sure something you want to see once in a lifetime.
While Sarak was driving us around we figured out a bit more of his life, at some point he told us about his little girl and his wife proudly. We thought he would have rides to Angkor Wat everyday but apparently he was only able to do that 2 times a month. Lots of people book a tuktuk through a booking office and it’s very hard for tuktuk drivers like Sarak to get in.
When you wander around the temples plenty of stalls with food, drinks and souvenirs are available. Sir, you want cold driiiiiiink, coconuuuuuut, mangooooo, pinappleeeeeee lady some nice shirt for youuuuuuuuu some paaaantss please take a loooooook. Is what you hear all the time, in the beginning funny later very annoying.
Little children are walking around with their baskets try to sell you postcards, bracelets and other stuff. Of course you should never buy from children because it will keep them from going to school but some people seem to not understand that at all. Their English seems pretty good though they can tell you flawlessly that they go to school every day from 7 to 11. But if you ask them a bit more about courses and their uniform they have no clue what you are talking about….. They can only say what they need to say to convince you to buy from them, they can do it in English and Chinese all in a perfect way so it seems they learned the language at school. Unfortunately those children work every day as soon as they can walk and will never have the experience of actually learning something and having a holiday.
At one point Sarak’s wife called and after he hung up he said: my son is missing me…. So I said oh you have a son as well?!?! He told us before that he only had a 2 year old girl, so we were confused. He looked a bit confused as well and said: I told you before right, my son is girl! We couldn’t stop laughing, while I tried to explain the difference between son and daughter.
On the last day we visited a temple on a hill with a river coming over it, the temple itself was very small and barely to be seen but the walk to it was very nice, beautiful nature. At one point we had to cross te river by stepping on stones, when we went back along the same way Michael slipped with his camera in his hand and the camera was dipped under water. We immediately removed the battery and SD card and dried it with the cleaning cloth we had. Unfortunately we saw soon enough that there was water inside the lens and camera but we still had hope. Back in town we bought some rice and left the camera in the rice for a night. The next day we tried to get the camera on, it went on but we saw a weird error, so we putted it back in the rice. After some hours we tried again and it worked again, not smooth though but we were able to take pictures. We decided to leave it in the rice for 24 hours more.
After walking around and sweating for 3 days around the temples of Angkor Wat we had seen most of them and were a bit temple tired. On the last night we visited the night market and after we finished Sarak brought us home, we gave him a $10 tip for the last 3 days and told him that he should use the money to put his daughter in school one day, when she is old enough. I hope he will and he invited us to come to his house (“not mine, I rent”) when we are back in Siem Reap.
For the next day we had booked a taxi to O’smach, the border with Thailand, since asking around for a local bus for 3 days gave us the answer that there wasn’t one going there. The taxi would come at 9 so plenty of time to have breakfast and pack before heading to Thailand. Chapter Cambodia is closed and we feel the end of this trip coming….. Luckily we still have 6 weeks.