Saturday 24th August: Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

Saturday 24th August: Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
Ticket: US$10 bought at my hotel the day before
Scheduled Departure/Arrival Time: 11:00am to ???
Actual Departure/Arrival Time: 11:09 to 17:11

I wasn’t looking forward to my first bus ride. I don’t like travelling by bus for all number of reasons. I may expand on that in another post. Today I had the 320km trip to Phnom Penh.

Due to the day I lost in Malaysia I decided to give temple spotting in Angkor Wat a miss. I have spent a few days looking around them before and I doubt they have changed much unlike the temple gateway town, Siem Reap.

I visited Siem Reap about 10 years ago, just before the international airport was due to open. Then it was still a little town consisting of a couple of roads with a few restaurants and bars. Now the city starts many miles before you reach the centre, miles of shops, car dealerships, offices and international hotels.

The temples were still a big draw a decade ago but not as many people were happy to do the 6-10 hour drive along heavily potholed roads. Mostly it was backpackers, rather than money rich, time poor tourists from neighbouring countries and further afield. Now Angkor Wat is drawing over a million tourists a year.

With the average wage in Cambodia hovering a bit above a $800 per annum, tourists spending that in a few days offer a huge opportunity. Everyone wants a piece of the action with touts for bars, restaurants, tuk-tuks, travel agents constantly shouting or asking the standard questions of touts worldwide.

“SIR, Sir, Sir where you from?”
“London”
“Lovely Jubbly, Chelsea, Arsenel, Spurs, good good, which one you like?”
” I don’t”
“What you want? I’m your friend. Food? Tuk tuk? Massage? Smoke? Tour guide?”

Hearing this approximately every 3 steps gets a little tiring. Its pretty similar to Patong in Phuket or Kuta in Bali.

The next morning I was up for the bus, and ferried down to the depot by the hotel driver. A very chatty chap telling me all about the recent controversial election. I couldn’t quite get all he was saying but it seemed to be that the winning party was backed by the Chinese and that concerned him.

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The bus itself was pretty clapped out and it turned out to be the 10am bus just waiting for a few more customers. The people on the bus had already been sitting on it for over an hour by the time we left.

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Soon after that it was obvious that this was going to be a painful ride. Not the seat, that was ok if a little sticky. It was the TV. First 2 hours Khmer karaoke, followed by a local film from the 80’s judging by the shoulder pads. Finished with a heavily dubbed Sly Stallone movie. All of this was played at a ear splitting level through already blown speakers.

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The single lane road was not in a great state with large parts of it worn away. We stopped a couple of times at restaurants along the way. I think it was mainly to gives the engine a chance to cool down and pour gallons of water back into it. We rolled into Phnom Penh in about the 6 hours we were told it would take.

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5 thoughts on “Saturday 24th August: Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

  1. Pingback: [Reblogged] Woodlands Singapore to Woking England | 11800 miles by train, bus & ferry | mitsueki ♥ | Singapore Lifestyle Blogger - Food, Fashion, News & Utter Randomness

  2. Hey there, love your posts. just a quick question. In this situation where the bus stopped at restaurants, do you bring your bag along with you or leave in the bus? Cos I will be travelling with one fully stuffed bag pack and I dont feel safe leaving it in the bus nor do i want to look like a clown carrying my big bag everywhere I go. Your opinion on this?

    • Hi, I carried a medium sized holdall for clothes and then a normal sized rucksack for valuables and so on. I took enough clothes for about 5 days and built in stops of at least 2 days every 5 days to do laundry.

      Pack light!

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