The beginning of this trip has me thinking I have done the travel in my life out of order – luxury first and now on a more economical scale. Being gone for two+ months means trying to maximize the amenities and experiences of hotels and transport without breaking the bank. We are getting there!
There isn’t a better place I can think of to stretch your dollar than Cambodia. It is a gorgeous country with some of the most genuinely kind and friendly people I’ve ever met, and a big draw in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Angkor Temple Complex. Getting here from Thailand I would normally fly, but we are watching the budget, right? And I had never traveled across Asia by train, so I conjured up some romantic visions in my mind a la Paul Theroux and thought we would do it (and we did). The journey took about six hours, cost about $1.40, and only reduced my lifespan by about three or four years. Train travel as a younger white woman with a backpack (they didn’t care that I have a carry on roller luggage, too) apparently means you sit in the back of the bus. Despite being there early and getting nice, comfy seats, all young, white people were moved to a much older and less desirable car before we departed the station. My perspective on discrimination has been expanded. Here is our classy ride.
But we made it, and we made it through the totally chaotic border crossing without incident. We made it through the free tourist shuttle to the “official” bus station (only tourists there, but we got swift transportation arranged), and after another 2.5 hours in a taxi (aka an old Toyota Camry) with a few friends we made on the train, Brandon and I arrived in Siem Reap. After much needed showers, we headed out for equally necessary beers and food. Next thing you know we are eating crickets and spider legs! All the travel struggle was worth it.
Our hotel in Siem Reap is just fine. Nice pool, comfortable beds, and a shower with hot water. The tour yesterday of the Angkor temples was outstanding thanks to our wonderful guide arranged through Angkor Asia Adventures. Beers here are $.50 and delicious. Today I strolled around town and did site tours of some other boutique hotels and more luxurious properties (the hotel nerd in me cannot be stopped)! Look out for a separate blog about that with some great pics of crocodiles (yes, that’s right) and lush, high thread count sheets. Until then, I’m going to continue my leisurely lunch at Rohatt Cafe, along the Siem Reap River.