Leaving Cambodia

Staying in Sihanoukville for 5 nights felt like a tad too much. In our search for a more tranquil place to stay we went from Ochheuteal Beach, where all the hawkers seemed to hang around, to the more deserted Otres Beach. This beach is only accessible by a dirt road and there are no shops, ATMs, or constant electricity in this area. We stayed for a few nights at Small Green Bungalows for $15 a night, which was expensive, but reasonably comfortable.

The Khmer new year is quickly approaching starting from April 13th lasting three days. Most Khmer see this as a big and expensive festival and the only way to get enough money is for some locals to rely on bag snatching and robberies. The western hotel owners said they've been hearing about lots of robberies lately and apparently it's much worse than the year before.

Otres beach

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Sihanoukville – beaches and beggars

Promised by the local travel agency that the bus trip from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville should take approximately 9 hours, however, in our case more than 11 hours as the “non-stop V.I.P. luxury bus”, as it was advertised, stopped a few times for god knows what reason. The entire trip the staff insisted on playing fantastically bad, and loud, karaoke videos for the locals on the bus (probably paying half the price we did). The quality of the speakers was okay on this bus compared to the one from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, but the songs were, with no exceptions, cheesy love songs where most of the producers never even bothered to record the music by playing an actual instruments. Instead they chose to simulate an entire band by using keyboard synthesizers from the 1980s.

Shianoukville Beach

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If I see another temple I will throw up!

Walking the worn paths of Angkor Wat is really exhausting and makes your feet hurt – which then again is a very good excuse to grab a foot massage in the evening to get some relief in the old aching muscles.

We tried to get to Chong Kneas, a floating village on Tonlé Sap Lake. You have to go there by boat, so when we got to the pier (in the middle of nowhere) where the boats embark, we were met by some of the rudest Cambodians we've met so far. With an arrogant attitude towards tourists they tried to rob us blind by charging us $35 for a 1½ hour long boat ride.

Angkor Wat Morning

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Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

Watching the Killing Fields outside Phnom Penh was depressing as expected but Tuol Sleng was actually worse. So after walking a bit around the fields paying our respects we decided to leave Phnom Penh to go to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat which everybody keeps babbling about. We took the local bus (5 USD per person) and started driving. The road to Siam Reap was really bad. Littered with holes caused by bad road maintenance and way too much traffic was the main reason the trip took 6 hours even though Siem Reap is only about 300 km from Phnom Penh. But also farmers suddenly dragging their cows across the road, hazardous overtakings by vehicles in the opposite lane, and dogs and chickens threatening to cross spontaneously caused the already grumpy bus driver to brake rather violently once and a while.

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Phnom Penh

Being in Phnom Penh really isn't bad at all. The city itself is fairly modern with trendy cafés and restaurants and the Khmer people seems positive and happy even after Pol Pot wiped out a large part of the population 30 years ago. They are way better at English than the Thai and even though our guidebook advises us to stay indoor when the sun goes down we haven't felt insecure for one second. The Khmer food is also quite nice; a bit like Thai but quite different as well. They have a curry dish called Amok which we've tried so far. Not bad, not bad at all.

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