Though it is difficult to tell from this photo, crossing the border from Thailand into Cambodia at the sordid town of Poipet was perhaps one of the more chaotic experiences in our journey.
The crossing itself went relatively smooth- there were no lines or hangups at the border, but it was immediately upon entering into Cambodia that the chaos began.
While trying to locate the bus that was supposed to take us the rest of the leg in our journey, we were swarmed by a number of aggressive touts (sales people) trying to sell us items and transport services. We were told that our bus had already left, and were bombarded by by taxi drivers trying to take us to Siem Reap.
With the cultural gap, it was difficult to tell the shady characters from those that could be trusted. It seemed that most people (who approached us anyways) had ulterior motives for personal gain.
We still had 150km to go in our journey, and weren’t quite sure about who to trust to get there.
Going with the theory that there is greater safety in numbers, we found ourselves another young pair of travelers from Spain, and teamed up to find a taxi that would give us a fair rate. With a little bargaining, we found a driver who agreed to our price of $35, and hopped in his car.
At this point, we were getting into an unknown person’s vehicle, completely trusting that they were taking us to the right destination.
Lucky for us, our taxi driver turned out to be a trustworthy fellow who liked to honk his horn. Constantly. Not to tell people to get out of the way, but moreso to let everyone else on the road know that we were passing through.
While driving in Cambodia, it can be difficult to discern, at times, the direction of traffic flow. Do you drive on the right, or on the left? It appears that the right side is generally the more acceptable one, but left is ok too. The two hour journey from Poipet to Siem Reap was an interesting, needless to say noisy, two hour journey.
Once within Siem Reap, we were dropped in a parking lot where two separate tuktuks were waiting. The driver told us to get out and go with these people, who would take us the rest of the way to our hotel. We were definitely confused and highly suspicious at this point. It took a bit of convincing on the driver’s part to assure us that this was not a scam. “It’s ok, my friend,” he turned and said to Brendon.
Luckily, it all worked out, and we soon enough arrived safely at our hotel, The Golden Mango.
We’ll leave you with just a few snapshots of our first glimpses of Cambodia, before we debrief in more detail through the next few posts.