Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cambodia is for RIEL

Get it? No? Didn't know that the Cambodian currency is a Riel? 1,000 Riel equals TWENTY FIVE CENTS. LOLZ. We would, at any time, have around 25 bills which would equal to around $3, it was kinda funny. What was MORE FUNNY, was that they didn't even PREFER their currency there - some places didn't even ACCEPT it. So we were like "oh, we're sups prepared and have some American dollaz on hand", like straight from an American ATM before we left. But, you see, they were folded, or maybe had a little tear in the corner, or perhaps someone breathed on it too hard - in which case they were not accepted! "Sorry lady, we need crispy dollaz, now go home and iron these with some starch and come back later." So we went to an ATM there, which popped some crisp ones out (lol that the ATM's don't carry Riel). Which was FINE, but we ALMOST missed the 'sunrise' (it was overcast the entire time) over Angkor Wat - and then it's like, what's the point of living? Moral of the story - bring some crispy dollaz to Cambodia and make it rain.

Tickets into the temples $40 CRISPY American dollabills
But, I digress.

Angkor Wat
Cambodia was hotter than Hades in the summer standing next to a fire eating spicy food wearing a fur coat.We were all pretty thankful that we went to Cambodia first, we thought this weather would stick with us throughout the entire trip, but it was the worst here- humidity wise. Like walk outside and immediately be dripping in sweat. It was pretty overcast the entire time which mildly saved us from the sun, but also made picture taking a challenge. SO, to combat this, we woke up SUPER early (which we were all already up because time zone change is HARD!) and saw all the temples in the morning, and spent the afternoon by the pool, then went back into the inferno for some shopping/dinner at night. #hardlife

Angkor Thom - Bayon
So, why did we go to Siem Reap? If you didn't know, I have a background in Architecture (as do 2 others on this trip), in our history courses we learned about Angkor Wat - and ever since it has been on my dream bucket list. So spending 2 days gallivanting around the temples was utter BLISS, just beautifulamazing.

Crossing the Boarder
 How we got there:
This was quite the journey. When we were planning this epic trip we had a few options for travel along the way. We mostly chose to take a plane to save some time. But we wanted to throw a wrench in that plan just once (save some $$, and I think the quote 'it's the journey not the destination' was said a few times). So we took a Cab 6 hours from Bangkok to Siem Reap (sounds so easy when I say it like that).

Our Cab driver to the boarder

YOU SEE, you can't just casually jaunt across the Thailand/Cambodian boarder. First, you need a Visa. This is something you can do at the boarder, HOWEVER there are SO many scams/buildings at the boarder, that we just made our lives easier and applied for one online. It took 3 days to e-mail back and we just printed it out at home and brought it will us to the boarder. SUPER EASY.


Once we had a Visa, we'd need the transportation. We had the option of a Plane, Bus or Cab. We ruled plane out and started looking at Busses. There are a few options for busses across the boarder, however, the cost of the bus + a taxi in Bangkok to the bus station = A cab the entire way (LOL). So, Cab it was. BUT, I didn't want to just pick a random Joe (sorry, joe) off the street and see if he/she wanted to drive us for a few hours in (hopefully) the right direction (don't trust anyone in Bangkok) to the boarder, to then find another cab to take us the rest of the way (Cab's can't pass through). I found this company, Global Travel Mate, online that has worked with taxi drivers in Thailand/Cambodia. So I e-mailed them and Jeroen set EVERYTHING up. It was amazing, a life saver, and a sanity saver on this long (6 hour) travel day.

Ta Phrom (where Tomb Raider was filmed)
So, our first taxi driver picked us up at our hostel at 8am and drove us 3ish hours to the boarder @ Poi Pet, where we got off and he pointed us in a the general direction that we should go. We started walking, not sure where to actually go, but just followed the  crowd. We found our way towards a "foreigner passports" sign and went in. Had our passports stamped and went out, to which we were greeted by a guy holding a sign with my name on it! He helped us the rest of the way (we still needed to get our passports/visas stamped by the Cambodia side). It took about an hour to get through it all. Then he lead us to a city bus which drove us about 10 minutes to a taxi station (the bus is free) where our 2nd Cab was waiting. This whole process literally couldn't have gone better! I would highly recommend it this way, we were able to see the Thai countryside a bit along the drive, and it was only around $40 for the trip.

Angkor Thom - Bayon
What to do in Siem Reap:
We spent our two days there pretty similarly. Woke up in the morning to see temples, spent the afternoon chilling in the pool/napping, then went out to Pub Street for dinner/shopping. We got a Tuk Tuk driver the first day who then became our personal chauffeur the rest of the time there. We paid him $20 a day to be our on-hand guy when we wanted to go up to the temples. Over 2 days we went to about 10 temples in the area.

Mr. Man!
Flat tire break!
Post-Downpour

Where to stay in Siem Reap:
We stayed at The Siem Reap Hostel and thought it was perfect. There are 6 bed dorms there that we stayed in, places under your bed to lock things if you're into that, a pool and bar/food area, and AIR CONDITIONING. Oh, and the POOL, life saver/game changer. It was the perfect afternoon/evening refresher that we needed after sweating outside for a few hours. Also, this place was less than a 5 minute walk to Pub Street which was nice.

Casual game of chicken on a toy reindeer anyone?!
Thai Iced Tea = Heavenly
Other funny things in Siem Reap to know:
These might just be 'i'm not from a 3rd world' diva comments, but they were things we didn't know prior to coming, so here ya go!
>>Toilet paper: basically a sin to throw down the toilet. They are really good about switching out the trash, which is nice, but yeah. All toilet paper/toiletries go into the trash, or you'll clog it up #embarassing
>>The first night in Siem Reap the power went out. Which was FINE because we were sleeping but OMGAIRCONDITIONING. We all mildly panicked at the thought of a night without AC, but it came back on less than 5 minutes later. This happened a few times each night/day. Cambodia doesn't produce any electricity and gets it from Thailand - so it's not so reliable.
>>Barter your brains out! Nothing is marked with a price in these countries, and even if it is, it's just a suggestion. So cut their offer in half and work your way to an agreement from there!

Neak Pean
And now, for some redonk photos jaunting around the temples. My friends and I get bored of traditional shots all too quickly on these trips and start mimicking our surroundings/breaking out some yoga poses...















Have any questions? Let me know!



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