We had a 6 hours lie down bus ride back to Ha Noi and then a taxi to our hotel near the airport. We had been booked by the travel agent in a 3* hotel, but the rooms smelled like dead bodies. The hotel also has a 5* next door and the agency moved us there for no extra charge.
We did go to the airport 2 hours early to find our 830 flight “cancelled”, but what they really meant was they moved it 30 min later. We still just made the boarding time of 815 after standing in the check in for almost an hour, passport control, and security.
It was a turbulent 45 min to Siem reap. We had to get another visa as they only sell single entry and so another 35 $ and 25 min later we had our visas. We were in the passport control and then out the door in under 45. We grabbed a tuk tuk and made for our friends shop to check in. We grabbed a quick lunch and then Pou Nan the Tuk Tuk man drove us to their house to pick up the bikes. Both were a little sketch on start up so we will have to see about that, but it may just be they need the valves adjusted (booked in KL). So it was just a 650 m ride on the back roads to our guest house.
It is cloudy and the forecast is for rain. Despite that since we are only here for a few days we elected to get Nan to drive us around the temple complex tomorrow. It was raining lightly at 8 am and and on and off today, but the worst of it we avoided during our 2 pm lunch break.
The first thing you have to do is go to the Angkor Wat ticket office to buy a pass and get your photograph taken. We were not expecting that massive building, parking lot full of buses, and conservatively 40 booths for ticket purchase. We got in line for a one day pass after standing in a three day pass line for a few minutes!.
From there you hit the big Wat and then we did the loop counter clockwise to try and avoid the masses. Few things on our trip have really wowed us and exceeded our expectations and this certainly did.
Today we are planning to do not much besides pick up the suits from the laundry, clean the chains, and repack our panniers after the holiday. The forecast is improved for our trip south with sun and clouds high of 32…feels like 42 with the humidity.
So we need to get into Thailand and it is 597 km to the southern most border we plan to use. For those of you that do not understand the magnitude of this hurdle let us just say it has been stressing us all out for the last 6 months. As of May 1 last year no foreigner can drive their own vehicle in Thailand without a guided tour. These tour cost at least 1000$ even for a transit of a few days. Many of these “tours” have been the guide showing up at the border taking the money and then saying bye bye. It takes 14 days to process an application for a permit. This is managed by the tourism authority and not by border services.
This has caused problems for people trying to enter from Myanmar and Laos where the tourism agents hang out at the border and ensure the border agents do not let anyone thru. This applies to most of the Cambodian borders as well. The tiny most southern border is the best option as it sees so few tourists. We know 2 Australians that crossed last week and Trevor and Orvar made it 4 days ago. They were initially told that they would need to leave their bikes in no mans land and go to the provincial capital to get permits. After an hour of remaining calm and smiling the border agents decided that they could use their Carnet de passage to enter. On the good side the exit from Cambodia was they said the easiest of the trip with 5 min for a passport exit stamp and no stop required for customs. (Remember we did spend 600$ and a day near the border to try to get import TVIP for the bikes, which we needed to get in for sure, but not out).
We did meet up with Ben who we last saw in Tblisi Georgia when he was on his way to Vladivostock
It is 347 km to Krong Chbar Mon, which is a fairly large town south west of Phnom Penh. We want to avoid the Cambodian capital at all cost. No way we want to be in traffic in this heat and humidity.
There is little traffic once you leave Siem Reap. There are tons of school kids on their bikes.
Hiding in the shade from the heat!
The road is paved except for the 40 km from Oudongk and Khum Khsem Ksant
All along the road you see these beautiful lotus flowers blooming. When we stopped to take a photo this lady pick one from her garden and came over to give it to me.
It was very hot and sweaty when we arrived to the town, but the second hotel we checked out was nice, clean, and had great air con for 15$.
We did a walk to the nearby day market and found a shop to get passport photos in case we need them at the Thai border (on line it is confusing about the visa issue and if there is a cost) and they were so cheap at 4/1$.
Then we walked across the bridge to the night market area to get some dinner at a street side stand. The amount of garbage here is totally insane! looking out the back balcony of the hotel there are piles of garbage bags just heaped up below. What are these people thinking!!!
We are so stressed about the crossing to Thailand, since if we do not get in we will have a serious problem. The people of Cambodia are super smiley and friendly, the food here was very good, and again the traffic even in the cities is orderly. There is courtesy and calmness to the driving. Even in congestion with tons of tuk tuks and scooters people are flowing like a school of fish.