Cambodia: Day One

We have arrived in Cambodia! It was a long but interesting day.

Our bus arrived at 7:00 AM yesterday to take us to the Thailand/Cambodia border. We were still a bit worn out from the overnight bus from Krabi the day before and zombied our way onto the minibus and rode to the border in a mostly quiet daze. We got our visas handled, crossed over, and the instant change in our surroundings was sobering.

At first I was reminded of Indonesia, but it soon became evident that Cambodia was a lot poorer than Indonesia. Indi compared it to entering the Wild West, and that’s not far off. There are paved roads in the towns, but even they are dirt covered and in generally poor shape. There were carts being pulled by large pack animals and some even by people. We had arranged for a taxi ride to Siem Reap (a little over an hour into Cambodia from the border) and settled in for the last leg of the day trip.

I quickly noticed how sparse the landscape is. The road from Poipet to Siem Reap is a beautiful expanse of farmland that reminded me a lot of the interstate trip between Tulsa and Bartlesville. It’s the first time I’ve seen such openness since leaving home. Small towns dotted the road and along the highway we saw quite a variety of vehicles; bicycles, motorbikes, long tractors, ox-drawn wagons. Some areas had standing water next to the road where people were bathing, or fishing with nets.

As we got closer to Siem Reap, the water started looking like more than typical monsoon puddles. Some areas were downright flooded. When we reached the city limits, it was obvious that this wasn’t normal. Hotels were flooded. Roads were impassable. Typhoon Ketsana had drifted a little further south than predicted, and although there hasn’t been any wind damage, the river breached it’s banks. We reached our hotel (via more dirt roads) and it’s in fine shape, but a 5 minute walk to the main area of town serves boats better than cars.

Today we gather our bearings and book our trip to Angkor Wat for the next few days. We are tremendously excited and it looks like the typhoon cleared the air for us. We also negotiated our hotel down to $8/night, and it’s a nicer place, too. Evidently the guy that offered us that price went too low, as he got some dirty looks from the hotel proprietor when we told him we’d take that awesome deal.

Interesting note: the Tuk-Tuk evolution here odd. Instead of being a motorbike-with-sidecar or a three-wheeled motorized vehicle, they use motorbikes in place of a horse in a drawn-carriage style design. Check it out:

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