Friday, October 10, 2008

Phnom Penh international

After two and a half hours of delays at Bangkok airport, we finally got our AirAsia flight to Phnom Penh. The flight took just 50 minutes, with clear skies and amazing views of the countryside the whole way. We landed and wandered across the tarmac to the very small airport terminal that is Phnom Penh international airport.
From what we could see, the entire international airport consisted of the plane we had just arrived on, two helicopters, a biplane and a crop sprayer.

Once inside, the Cambodian border guards quickly relieved us of $20 dollars and sent us on our way into the foray of tuk-tuk drivers vying for business. Before we knew it we were in the back of a beaten up 1970's Ford Cortina heading north to Boeng Kak Lake and our diggs for the night.
The second we stepped out of our cab into the badly lit backstreets, our Caucasian faces and shiny backpacks betrayed our anonymity and again we were bait for the rapidly gathering locals, hustling everything from "good woman, good price" to "Mr, Mr, you wanna buy some good coke".
We headed straight to the nearest bar to try to loose the local salesmen and get a well needed beer after all our travelling.
Eventually we ended up in a lake-side guesthouse called same same, but different, which is exactly the same as anywhere else here. Our room set us back $2 a night each, which ignoring the fact that every time you come out of the room you almost fall through the rotten boards into the dank lake below, and the healthy population of river rats, isn't too bad!
We met a Taiwanese guy over dinner who was also staying there, attempting to get hold of a visa to drive, through Myanmar, India etc etc all the way to Finland. So far he had been waiting a month for the embassy to decide if such a visa even existed.
We booked ourselves on the 12.30 bus to Siem Reap the next morning and spent the remainder of the evening enjoying the breeze out on the lake-side and watching an impressive electrical storm.
We awoke in our sauna of a room, with the morning sun beating down on the tin roof, attempted to wash ourselves with the brownish water coming from the shower head and headed to Phnom Pehn bus station for the 6 hour bus ride north to Siem Reap. We spent the journey sat right at the back of the bus, which must have been 30 years old. The air conditioning was little more than wisp of warm air and inside was already at least 35C. To add to the excitement, neither of the chairs we were sat on would stay in the upright position, thus we spent the whole time apologising to the Buddhist monks behind us about falling asleep and crushing their legs.
The bus was completely full as we left Phnomn Pehn, on the part tarmacked, potholed roads. An hour later we stopped to pick up a further 20 passengers, necessitating the deployment of plastic stools into the gangway.
The next five hours were warm to say the least, with the standard wannabe rally driver in charge, people and belongings going everywhere each time we almost broke the suspension by careering full speed down a big hole in the road. The in flight entertainment during all of this had been a kung-fu film dubbed into Khmer followed by full volume Khmer Karaoke blasted through the punctured bass speakers above our heads.
We eventually arrived in Siem Reap in the midst of a tropical downpour. We were met from the bus by our new driver who Same Same guesthouse had phoned ahead to arrange. We agreed to meet him at 11 the next morning to head out to Angkor Wat.

No comments: