Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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To Siem Reap Siem Reap, Cambodia, Sunday, 04 March 2007 7:59pm

We got up bright and early to catch the boat to Siem Riep. We had a light breakfast at the restaurant across the street from the docks to kill time until the boat left. We had to dodge magazine sellers to get on the boat. Jessica had wondered at breakfast how much The Economist cost here ($5), and betraying interest in that meant that they wouldn't leave us alone. They dropped the prices for various magazines repeatedly, but there seemed to be no way to convince them that I wouldn't buy a copy of Time, no matter how cheap it was.

I enjoyed the boat trip. We sat on the roof of the long speedboat, so we had a nice breeze and great views of the riversides. It turned out to be a 7hr trip, and I should probably have put on more sunscreen. I lazed about and finished the book I'd been reading before doing more guidebook-research about Siem Reap.

Patchwork Canopy, Tonle Sap

At the floating village on Lake Tonle Sap, we transferred from our fast boat to a slow craft that listed disconcertingly. In that boat, we headed up the Siem Reap River (which was shallow enough that fisherman were wading across it). The river was a reddish brown where it entered the lake, but darkened to a disturbing grey as we got closer to the place where the road to Siem Reap ended. There were a huge array of similar tourist boats parked there, and lots of tuk tuk drivers clamoring for our business.

Mr. Paul, the tuk tuk driver that Jessica had arranged at the docks in Phnom Penh, was waiting for us, and he gave us a ride into town. He warned us that the guesthouse we had chosen from the guidebook was "only for foreigners", and that it might be full, but grudgingly took us there instead of to the place that he recommended. It turned out that he was right about it being full, so we agreed to check out the place that was surely giving him kickbacks. I actually misheard the rate quoted for the room (the hotel guy said $30, but it sounded to me like $60), and dismissed it out of hand, but Jessica asked me why I'd been so quick and it turned out that it was actually a more reasonable price, but I thought it was still not a good value for the money, and there was a lot of construction going on around it. I didn't want to be annoyed by the sound of bandsaws, so we decided to keep looking. Paul didn't want to take us all the way to the next choice on our list, and I was tired of him trying to argue me out of things, so we decided to just walk.

We found the Two Dragons Guesthouse that Jenny and Dave had recommended, and they had a room for us... but only for one night. We were going to keep looking, but we bumped into the owner of the guesthouse and he gave us some ideas about where to look next. Jessica pointed out that we were tired and hungry (there was no food on the boat, so our lunches had been energy bars), and suggested that we just spend one night at Two Dragons and stay somewhere else for the remainder of our stay.

We dropped off our stuff and headed over to the Singing Tree Cafe that had gotten rave reviews on the Travelfish forums, and decided that the rave reviews were justified. Very fresh, tasty food, with a variety of local ingredients, served in a beautiful courtyard. Heavy on the lime, which I love. I ended up eating two entrees and an appetizer, to make up for the missed lunch.

Jessica called around from the Two Dragons desk and found us another place to stay for the rest of our stay here. We can drop our luggage off on the way to the temples, since it's along that road.


tinny Sunday, 04 March 2007 12:23pm

Have you been able to speak any Vietnamese? How many people were able to speak English and how often did you have to rely on your phrasebooks?

aneel Friday, 09 March 2007 12:53am

Well, I hadn't when you asked that, since I was still in Cambodia. I have now. I don't think I've said anything other than "Excuse me" and "Thank you" that's been understood. When I tried to ask for the bill, the waitress had to bring over the English-speaking waitress. I just tried to buy glasses and utterly failed to ask how long it would take to get prescription lenses made in Vietnamese, but managed to get the point across with gestures and tapping on my watch. Hopefully they'll be ready at 5pm (an hour from now)!