Disclosure: these prices may have increased since 2009
After a fourteen hour train ride from Chiang Mai to Mot Chi, we caught a 1st class bus to the Poipet border crossing. We met a group of guys also doing the border crossing and we decided we should all travel for safety in numbers. Cambodia border crossings aren’t known for their hospitality. It took us about an hour to cross over to Cambodia. It’s $20 USD (as of 2009) for a tourist visa and another B/100 (Thai Bhat) that the Cambodian government illegally as from you for an allowance into the country. It so well known that the military takes the money illegally that it has made many travel books for a warning for tourists. You can refuse to pay the bribe but it will make your process much slower and difficult. You might as well swallow your pride and just pay the money. The smell of Poipet as you cross the boarder is a rank smell combining rotten fish and raw sewage littering the streets. I had to use my bandana cover my face so that I wouldn’t gag from the smell. We took a taxi to Siem Reap, about an hour and a half taxi ride, and it only cost us around $30.00.
Once we made it Siem Reap we told the taxi driver to take us directly to our hotel, and instead dropped us off at a tuk-tuk depot where they are world renowned for taking unknowingly tourist to another hotel and are swindled into staying there instead of the hotel they had originally booked. Once we made it to the Khemer Inn Angkor we were greeted by our host Poli. For $16 USD p/ night we had a large room decorated in Khemer decor, a huge bathroom with running hot water, air conditioning and a western style toilet. Yes, all of these things are considered a luxury in other parts of the world.
After a well deserved nine hours of sleep, we were greeted by a home cooked western style continental breakfast. Knowing that we were vegetarian, Poli made us one of the best omelettes that I had ever had. She also prepared fresh French bread, fresh squeezed orange juice and hot tea. I was ready for a nap afterwards, but Mr. Mee, our personal tuk-tuk driver picked us up to take to Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat is, for a lack of better words, amazing. Some date from the 11th century. Angkor Thom, a less known wat, is beautifully carved with one spire with faces faces all four directions. We took all day to stroll the 500 acres (200 hectares), with Mr. Mee following close behind should we want to ride for a bit. Entering the temples is entering a part of history that almost disappeared due to the Khemer Rouge. Buddhists were especially targeted, and you can see bullet holes the size of AK47 blasted into the temple walls. It’s a reminder of how lucky you are to live in a relatively safe country were you don’t have to worry about being murdered or your family on a daily basis.
Our final moments of the day was watching the sunset over Angkor Wat, and basking once again in the magnificent history that surrounded us. We said goodnight to one of the most memorable days of our lives.