From Bangkok I took a bus to Cambodia, but before I left I had researched the border crossing online and so I knew about what scams to expect. Close to the border somebody entered the bus and tried to sell us his visa service. For an additional 10 dollars. I politely declined the offer. The passport photo requirement is another laugh. If you don’t have one you pay and that’s the sole reason for the requirement: to ask for money. At the border they actually take digital photos… I don’t know what they do with the passport photos they collect. Maybe they play games of Memory with them. I don’t know. When I paid my 30 dollars, the clerk wanted another 100 baht service charge. I smiled and said I thought 30 dollars should be enough. He smiled back and took the money. That was easy.
The border itself was a beggar infested fleahole, dusty and chaotic. After completing the border formalities, I entered a gambling palace and asked if I could use the toilet. It was all smiles and straight to the back, then right, walking past arrays of slot machines. Thanks, more smiles. To avoid the touts and beggars, I went back to the bus and enjoyed the air conditioning.
In the late nineties I had travelled from Siem Reap to the Thai border on the back of a pick- up truck. It was very wild then: a dirt road with enormous holes, many roadblocks where money changed hands faster than fleas from my fellow passengers. The journey took all day and on arrival, my hair was caked with sweat and dust and my shirt was covered with mud stains. Now, it took a mere two hours on a nice surfaced road in a comfortable bus. I want my money back….
Enigmatic text on the door of my hotel room: WE ARE NOT ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY LOSS OF YOUR LIFE AND PROPERTY .
For one dollar I rented a bicycle for a day and set off to Angkor Wat. When I arrived at the first check point I was told that the tickets were now sold at someplace else which meant I had to cycle 10 kilometres extra. It reminded me of my cycling days. In the afternoon it started to rain and soon I was drenched. This too reminded me of my cycling days.
Angkor Wat, detail of mural.
Next blog post will cover more Angkor Wat and Tomb Raider.