Monday, April 23, 2012

2 Weeks Indochina, What a trip! -Part 2-

D04, Sep 22, 2011. Where were we? Ah, so we took the night bus to Siem Reap (SR). My calculation we shall arrive at SR at 1300 (local time), but unfortunately I was wrong! It turns out we arrived at 1730. There were some reason why it took us a longer time arrive in SR, Vietnam – Cambodia open close timing is one of the reason. The border opens at 0600, while it took only about 3hrs from HCMC to the border, so we spent another 3hrs outside the gate! Just to make it short, at 06AM one of PIC from bus company asked us to come down to the border office, we didn’t have to bring our luggage for check. Since it’s still early morning, so there were not many people at the border. We got our stamp easily, and at that time we just realized that there are no Visa in our passport, we only got stamp. We ask to one of border officer, he said “as per SEP 22, 2011 Indonesian passport holder no longer need visa to enter Cambodia”. At that time we were like “HURRAAYY” and after a second we realized that we already gave our money for Visa to the bus company!

By the time we reached Pnom Penh for a short transit (changing bus), we asked for our money back to the bus company (which happens also has an office in Pnom Penh). Unfortunately the officer can’t give us our money back, and told us to take our money at their office at HCMC *super crap*! Finally we agreed to it and asked the officer to write down a statement so it will easier for us to take our money back. Just make short, so there were we arrived safe and sound at SR, and thanks y got a free picked up service from guesthouse using tuk tuk (cart which attached to a bike). Happy Guesthouse, that’s the name. It is located nearby the bus station (approx 15mins ride) and it was a cozy place with a little restaurant in front. This is one of a recommended guesthouse in SR, it only cost us 7USD for a triple room with fan for 1night (exclude breakfast)!

The Apsara dance
We didn’t got the chance to sneak around the guesthouse since we had a reservation for Apsara Dinner Show at the Apsara theatre (USD 12). The funny thing is a Cambodian whom we met at the bus told us that Apsara dance usually held to commemorate the death. The dance itself is very “Cambodian” (I don’t how to describe it) and the meal was quite OK. The show only last for an hour (1930 – 2030) but may stay as long as we like (until the restaurant closed of course!). Felt tired already, so we go back to the guesthouse to get some rest and make plan for temple visit tomorrow with tuk tuk driver. We agreed to pay USD18 (if I’m not mistaken) for 2days service (until we off to Pnom Penh). Why in dollar? Not In Riel? I found this interesting. Altough they have their own currency, most of transaction in Cambodia using USD and they often give us Riel as changes. So, no money changer visit is necessary!
Ah, one thing I forgot to mentioned earlier. By the time we visit Siem Reap the city was all wet, flood everywhere! Just like in HCMC, rain kept on pouring and I suppose the city doesn’t have a good drainage which caused the flood. As I mentioned on my previous post, September is a rainy season in Indochine (that’s included Thailand) so better to avoid on having Indochine trip during this period.

D05, Sep 23, 2011. We woke up a bit early that day, excited to visit the temple area (the infamous Angkor Wat). It weather was a bit gloomy, so we didn’t forget to packed our raincoat along. After having a light breakfast at the guesthouse’s restaurant, we approached the Tuk2 driver who already awaits to take us wandering around the Temple Area. Distance between the guesthouse and temple area is quite far, and the area is HUGE, no wonder the entrance ticket cost use USD 20 for 1 day pass! Actualy, at first we were thinking to wandering around the temple using bicycle (Happy guesthouse provided bicycle rental for USD1/day), but after second tought, we choose tuk2 over the bicycle. And it was the best choice we’ve made. 

The infamous Angkor Wat

It's Me :p
Ta Keo temple
Call me out of date, but I was amazed with the entrance ticket to the temple area. So, the officer took our pictures and put it in the ticket, voila! I got a ticket with my face on (LOL). Unfortunately I lost that ticket somewhere around the temple. There are many temple in this area, since we only have 1day to explore so, we only visit some major temples (Angkor Wat, Ta Phrom Kei, Benteay Kdei, Angkor Tom, Bayon, Ta Keo and several litle temples that I forget the name). We explore those temple while rain was pouring, thank god we bring along our raincoat with us! After the 3rd temple, tuk2 driver took us to a very nice (and expensive) restaurant for lunch. After lunch, temple tour continued until 1700 then we got back to the guesthouse for some rest before visit SR’s night market.

the lunch
 Bad news!! Tuk2 driver can’t take us to the Night Market because of the flood!! As the substite he took us to (you can say) a Mall instead, yet there were nothing interesting at that Mall, so we only spend less than 1hour there and go back to the guesthouse and hang around at the restaurant. Well, this is what I like from a Guesthouse, there are many budget traveler (like us) from several parts of the world. That night we got the chance to know an old man (senior traveler) from South Africa who speaks more than 5 languages! Super! We talked until late about loads of things, he even know about Indonesian history! WOW. Felt tired, we were excused ourself and go for a sleep.

D06, Sep 24, 2011. The tuk2 driver felt sorry about the Night Market, and he approached us this morning while we’re having a breakfast. He wants to take use for shopping! First stop was Cambodian traditional market, where we can buy various traditional cambodian food (I love the fried banana with sesame seeds!). Ah, I bought a pair of sandal for 2USD there! After that he brought us to shops that sells souvenirs, but since the price was quite expensive, so I only bought few. Tired with the flood, we ask the driver to took us back to Guesthouse for check out, u yes I forgot to mentioned, we’re off to Pnom Penh today. After checkout, we waited for the bus to pick us at the restaurant.

Since it was considered as a long journey from Siem Reap to Pnom Penh, we had one pit stop at a restaurant. We arrived at Pnom Penh at 1800(ish), and took tuk2 (that cost us USD3) to our guesthouse (which located only 2 blocks from the bus stop). We had a very nice guesthouse that time, it called Velkommen Guesthouse. The rate was USD30 for triple room with AC, yea I know, it cost us much, but it’s worthed! Our guesthouse located in the center of Tourist Attractions (Royal Palace complex/Silver Pagoda, Pnom Penh lake, National Museum, etc), maybe that’s the reason it cost much. The location itself is quite similar like Kuta, but the difference that it was a lake i/o beach. After check in, we decided to have an evening tour (with dinner). There were so many Tuk2 driver who offer us their services, after a long and hard bargain we had a deal with one tuk2 driver, 10USD for tonight at 5USD for tomorrow (strange rate isn’t it?). We were to na├»ve to think that the driver was a honest person, because the didn’t showed up the next day!

Wat Pnom
After having dinner at a cozy restaurant, we spent that night wandering around the city of Pnom Penh. First stop is Night Market! It can be considered as a payback time, since we can’t visit Siem Reap’s night market earlier. There were so many booth which sells various items, such as cloths, souvenirs, and foods. I bought some gifts for my nephews and niece and also bought my self a “cambodian” trousers (LOL). And we got the chance to try a drink that made of cane and lime for 0.5USD, it tasted sweet and sour. An hour has passed, and we go back to tuk2 and ask the driver to take us wander around the city. Although he was not honest, but he spoke english very well, so he explain all the thing about Pnom Penh. That night we visited the bay, Independence Monument, Wat Phnom and several other places. 

The National Museum
D07, Sep 25, 2011. This day was horrible. We didn’t ordered bus to HCMC through the guesthouse last night and plan on buying the ticket today (thinking that the tuk2 driver has promised to take us to the bus agency). And, after waiting more than 30mins, we finally accept the fact he will not show. So, we went to the Mekong bus agency (on foot) and guess what? No seat left for today’s bus! WTF? We have to be at HCMC today, because we have to catch earliest flight to Hanoi on Sep 26! A bit desperate, gw go to each guesthouse which sold bus ticket and finally got the 02PM ticket to HCMC! Why is so difficult to buy a frickin bus ticket? Well, that week falls on national holiday in Cambodia, and most of them took a vacation to HCMC! Oh well.. thank God we still got the last 2 tickets.

Royal Palace
After succeed buying bus ticket, we start the sightseeing (walking) by visiting Royal Palace complex / Silver Pagoda. On the way, we stop by at a pagoda which happened to be having a religious event. Many people gather and brought flowers for the event. After a brief stop, we continue walking to the Royal Palace. This TA cost us USD6! Wow that expensive huh? Well this complex is quite big and there are several building located inside the complex. One of them is The Silver Pagoda. It took more than 1 hour to explore this TA, but I don’t know why, this TA didn’t insterest me so I only spent less than 1 hour there. After Royal Palace, we visit National Museum which located nearby, didn’t go inside the museum tough (it cost few dollars to enter). Time flies, its noon already, time for lunch! We found an Indonesian restaurant called Warung Bali at the corner nearby the museum. Missed to taste indonesian food, we ate there, and it was delicious! Love the place, love the friendly owner and most of all, love the food! Feed up with delicious food, we go back to guesthouse for checkout. And heading back to HCMC J

Well, the story is not yet finish. Part 3 will be about our story in Hanoi, and of course the drama of taking back our “visa money” from the bus company! See you again soon~ (hopefully)