Thursday, 14 October 2004
The taxi ride was without doubt the bumpiest 3 hours in my life. Averaging 50 km/h on an almost non-existent road – potholes everywhere – we somehow managed to make it alive to Siem Reap. Us making it alive may not be that surprising, but the car making it without breaking down is incredible! I’m sure you could take any new car out of the factory, including a 4x4 (although we were driving in a sedan), run it down that stretch and it would certainly fail its MOT immediately.
So the driver was speeding down, honking at everything that moves, one hand on the wheel, the other holding his mobile phone, whilst dodging kids on bikes and oncoming traffic. Added to that, everyone in Cambodia drives on the right yet his car was also a right-hand drive: overtaking was very stressful, as I was sitting in the passenger seat.
As we arrived in Siem Reap, Adam and Julia decided to go and check out a $1 a night guesthouse. To me, this seemed fairly impossible so I decided to part from them. I found every choice they had make so far went against the flow of living in Cambodia: they were sweet, but behaved like real tourists.
This parting however was maybe not such a good idea, as the guesthouse I stayed in – recommended by the lonelyplanet guidebook – cost me $5 a night yet felt like a half-dollar room: no natural sunlight, and it was full of mosquitoes (I must have killed about 20 when I walked in).
The first day in Cambodia I must admit was quite a nightmare: I was getting hassled everywhere by Cambodians wanting me to sell me the most random things (wooden cow bells, women’s dresses, etc.). But the following day, the magnificence and beauty of the Angkor Wat temples cheered me up and made me feel happy again that I had traveled half the globe, to such a remote place, to see the spectacular ruins of Angkor Wat.