Our second day started at 5 am without much sleep the night before. We went to the dining hall in the Queenwood hotel to have breakfast. It was one of the awful meal that I ever had. The coffee was burnt and I didn’t really like any of the food that they served. But this was one of the bad representation of the Cambodian food culture because I had amazing food the rest of my trip.
After breakfast I went to book the bus ticket at the front desk. The same guy who said that I can get the ticket for $15 less than 12 hours ago told me all the tickets are sold and we can take the taxi to Siem Reap for ONLY $90 (I guess this guy thinks all the tourists pluck money from the tree!). May be this is one of the tactic he was trying to make us stay in the hotel for one more day or pay more for the transport. I insisted that we have to leave and get us a bus ticket somehow. Then reluctantly he connected us with a bus service called Rithmony. Although I didn’t see any good reviews for this bus service we had no other option. We bought the tickets and planned to leave Phnom penh at 9.45 am. The bus was late and finally we left Phnom Penh at 11 am.
The bus rides was about 5 hours. Most of the passengers in the bus were Cambodian people, not many tourists. The good thing about the bus ride is that you will get to see the rural Cambodia. The rice fields, cows, people working in the farm, these are things that you don’t get to see in many touristy places. But since it was dry season in January, the bus ride became uncomfortable quickly.
We arrived in Siem Reap at around 4 pm. There were tuktuk drivers forcing us to take their tuktuk like the day before. But we had our lesson yesterday, so we walked away from those persistent tuktuk drivers and went to the main road. There we hired a tuktuk to take us to the airbnb room that we booked. This tuktuk driver was driving in the wrong direction for 5 minutes and we have to direct him in the right way so that he can get us to the place soon. I don’t know whether this is a tactic to get more money by prolonging the trip or whether he was genuinely confused about our destination.
In any case we arrived at the airbnb place to find out that all the rooms are booked and we couldn’t find our host although he approved our rental the day before! There we had second day of surprises. It was also on New Year’s eve, most other places that we could find were already full. Finally Ria found a place called Downtown Siem Reap hostel. We took another tuktuk there. This tuktuk driver was one of my favorite in Cambodia. At this point we were wary of any tuktuk driver and we were giving him the directions. But he repeatedly said ‘I know, I know’. He drive through all the nook and crannies to get us to the hostel faster than google maps predicted. It was a fun ride.
At the Downtown Siem Reap Hostel we found out that we have to pay $11 for the first tow night (Since they were New Years’ eve and New year’s day) and then the price will go down to $7 a night (This is for single bed). We were glad that we could find a place finally. I assumed that the hostel was run by a British guy since most employees there were British expats or tourists. Most people at the hostel were from Europe/Australia/North America. We had a dinner at the hostel (Pizza). Surprisingly I met someone who was from Boston and went to Harvard! There were some good celebrations going on for the New Years’ eve in the pub street. But I was too tired and planned to go to the temples early morning the next day. So I went to bed before midnight. (To be continued…)