When we arrived in Siem Reap it was raining heavily and the forecast was for at least 10 days rain, and the further south the heavier the rain. Our plan was to travel to Phnom Pehn which is on the southern boarder of Cambodia so would be getting really wet.
In a fit of peak we decided to head north, either to Hanoi or into Laos, both of which offered the potential of better weather. So, Jaki set to work finding us options for flights (which turned out to be expensive) or bus travel.
Unfortunately we had already booked a Hotel in Phnom Pehn (the Okay Hotel which as it turns out is the sister hotel of Okay 1 where we are now). Luckily our booking carried a free cancelation up until the 12th October, so we went on line, clicked cancel and hey presto, we were charged $37 for the privilege. (Always read the small print).
With that festering wound we contacted Bookings.com and asked why? They said it wasn’t anything to do with them, it was the Hotel who insisted on deducting the payment even though the email with the wrong information came from Bookings.com.
We spent the rest of that afternoon and evening sheltering from the rain and wondering why/how we got the weather so badly wrong?
We ate in the restaurant as it was too wet to venture out and got an early night.
The next morning things looked totally different. Despite the weather forecast still saying heavy rain and storm’s it was a beautiful day outside so we got in a Tuk-Tuk and headed for the centre of Siem Reap which was about a 5 minute ride and cost $2.
We were pleasantly surprised. It was clean, modern, fairly relaxed with plenty of bars and restaurants, several markets where they sold tourist Tat as well as vegetables, meat and fish, every stall holder had enough English to say ‘hello’ and ask “do you wanted to buy anything”?
It became a bit repetitive, the same conversation took place at every stall as they tried to get us to buy a scarf or T shirt from them rather than their neighbour who had exactly the same items in stock.
There was some nice jewellery but what it is made of and how valuable it is was beyond us. We did buy two Poncho’s in case it decided to rain again but these are still in their bags as the weather has been great since.
We chose to have breakfast in a Khmer restaurant and noticed they had a Fat boys (it actually said that on the Menu) so I went for that. It was very good, I was stuffed when i finished every last bit.
Jaki’s Omelette was good too and it came with fruit salad which was a nice touch.
We wandered around for an hour but it got too hot so we jumped on a Tuk-Tuk and asked the driver to give us a tour of the town which he did, taking us to see various attractions that he thought we might like.
We stopped at a Temple and listened to some musicians, saw the royal palace where the King has never stayed,local schools and Hospitals. The cool breeze was very welcomed and when we eventually had enough we were dropped off at the Temple bar on Pub Street where we had a few drinks before deciding (rashly) to walk home.
Hot and very sweaty we were glad to get back to our room and a cold shower. Not out of choice I might add. The Electric shower didn’t have any power to it so couldn’t heat the water. We did raise this with reception but they didn’t fix it till we complained again on our last day.
At least the next guests will have hot water!
That evening we took a Tuk-Tuk into Town and it was buzzing. Pub street was virtually a pedestrian walk way. The bars had really come to life and there was music playing everywhere. It was like a very nice Koh San Rd.
We chose a stir fry restaurant on the side of the road where the food was great (I had stir fry noodles and a portion of beef ribs) but the clientele was awful.
There was a very (very) loud American couple who were holding court with a much younger guy they had just met. The conversation, which could be heard by everyone above the din of the street was one way. The Yanks (he from New York, her from the Bronx) revolved around him being unable to go back to the US having receiving over $4 million dollars (most of which he had now spent on drugs and women) in some sort of conspiracy around money laundering and drug trafficking. Boy what a Knob head.
He gave Trump a real run for his money and was no ambassador for the US.
Having stuffed our faces we found a nice spot outside the Red Piano bar, ordered a few drinks and watched the world go by.
The Tuk-Tuk drivers were plying their trade waiting to pounce as soon as they thought you had finished your drink. Now Tuk -Tuks are extremely useful transport, cheap and eay to use but there are too many drivers and not enough tourists so theres a great deal of competition. So the drivers have developed techniques to give them the edge.
Those that speak good English set up a bit of banter with english tourists and those that can speak German do the same . The Tuk-Tuk guy told us Chinese and Korean are the hardest languages for them to learn and these two groups of tourist are least popular because they stay in big groups, have their own guides and don’t spend money with locals preferring to eat and drink in their Hotels.
There must be a system they Tuk-Yuk Guys use to agree who gets which fare otherwise there would be regular fist fights. One guy latched onto us earl evening and decided we were gonna be his fare. He then waited all night till we were ready to come home, for a $2 fare.
Its a tough old game.