After another long open bus journey form Nha Trang, we arrived in Ho Chi Minh, dreary eyed and tired. As soon as we got off the bus, several taxi drivers accosted us promising to take us to the airport for “Very Cheap” only to realize that their very cheap actually means $30 … We knew very well the journey was around the $8 mark and eventually got a driver to take us fro that price.
At the airport we got changed into a fresher pair of clothes and check-in for our flight to Siem Reap. As odd as this sounds, we were more excited that we didn’t have to some more countless hours on a bus, than the thought about going to Angkor Wat. Yes, this excitement about flying over and ancient temple was merely temporary.
Before moving across the border on paper though, I have one major rant though… Do the people running airports in Vietnam have any idea how much food costs outside the airports??? Seeing as we were hungry and needed some coffee and food we tried some of the restaurants and cafes in the duty free and were shocked at the prices… A Big Mac cost around $7… Eventually we ended up paying $23 dollars for a meal and coffee, but only did so because we were starving!
We got our indignant selves onto the plane and looked forward to Cambodia… From what we read, people were nicer, prices were cheaper and well, it had the Angkor Temples, which has been on my list of things to see for a while and my enthusiasm passed onto Raquel as she became very exited about the temples too.
Arriving in Cambodia, we quickly bought our visas ($20 each). Unlike in Vietnam, no invitation letters were need for Portuguese passports. This was a painless process which consisted out of completing an immigration form with a photo and waiting for them to give you back your passport a couple of minutes later with the visa inside, much like in Vietnam
The hostel we booked into this time offered a free pick-up service from the airport, which I accepted and arranged with the hostel, however a part of me thought that this was merely a plot to get people to book with them (considering it had happened in Hoi An, where no one was waiting for us). However as we stepped out the Airport there was Thu, the tuk-tuk driver with my name on a paper.
Our transfer to the hotel was a 10 minute tuk-tuk ride which gave us an idea of what Siem Reap was about… clearly this town was living of tourism as the amount of high end hotels we passed was staggering, all replete majestic sounding names and seemingly catering for large tour groups as the bussed lined up outside.
Our hotel on the other hand was off the main road, on a dusty track of road… Even though I read fantastic reviews about the place, this dusty road did leave me very comfortable with my booking. That all changed when we stopped at the door and with a colonial building being shielded by many trees and guarded by an eight armed Buddha statue.
The staff took our bags and then led us to the restaurant on the premises offering us a free drink and nuts while we checked-in. They made us feel welcome and once the check-in was complete, we were taken our rooms, which while not massive was perfectly fine for us.
Once we got used to our room, we headed back to the restaurant for lunch, which also surprised us as the quantity and quality of the food was much higher than we thought considering how little it cost.
After lunch we arranged a tuk-tuk with the hotel to take us to the Angkor Temples the next day; got our free messages offered by the hotel on arrival and then headed to the room for a bit of rest and relaxation while before heading out for dinner and little around Siem Reap.
However, the excitement about going to the Angkor Temples meant that we weren’t really concentrating on seeing anything but more the thinking about the next day!
This post is based on our day of the 23rd of September 2012
Hotel: Golden Temple Villa – Double room including AC, TV, Fridge, Breakfast and ensuite bathroom $20 per night (see our review of hostel here)