How to have a bad time in Cambodia – and sometimes it’s better to move on

How to have a bad time in Cambodia – and sometimes it’s better to move on

Pictures as always at the end of the post

After a short pit stop in Bangkok (cheaper flights from Myanmar!) we took a bus to the border of Cambodia, Poipet. The bus ride was fine, we walked through the Thailand part of the border without any problems (we were pretty happy we didn’t run into any of the 5 million mentioned scams), walked through the no-men-territory (question: if you book a hotel there, which country are you technically looking for!?), got our Cambodian stamp and that’s when the trouble began.

Right outside the Cambodian visa office, there’s a free shuttle bus that takes tourists straight to the bus station, probably to protect them from running into scams.

It was supposed to leave every 5 Minutes between 8am and 8.30pm.

First we walked past the sign (thanks to 50 taxi scam guys distracting us) and entered DISGUSTING Poipet City, trying to find the bus station. Never have I been to a more disgusting place in my life. I thought I was going to catch some fatal disease just being in that air. It’s grey, as if somebody drained all color from the scene, as if I suddenly went colorblind. It was extremely dirty (I mean come on we spent a month in India and were less grossed out), extremely smelly, dusty and just urgh!

We walked and walked, of course a thousand people offering us some bus or taxi. Some dude kept telling us where the bus station is. Eventually we also found it, exactly where the guy told us, but the way he just kept walking next to us I knew he was up to something. When we got to the bus station he talked quickly to the people selling tickets upon which they all started pretending that the buses to Siem Reap don’t run anymore this day. Nice enough immediately the guy who pointed us the direction offered us a taxi. Yeah sure, how convenient! And I’m sure that you didn’t just tell the bus guys to tell us no, because we’re your clients because you walked us all the way here. He needed to be told to $#%& off 15 times until he did – actually basically he didn’t because it was us who left the bus station and he only followed us for 200 meter. I guess we had no choice but walk back to the border through that disgusting town in the heat both carrying our backpacks – fun!

At the border everyone told us that the shuttle bus isn’t running because Chinese New Year (3 days ago). We waited anyway and eventually the shuttle came and we guess the driver sort of quit, cause he laughed in our face and then almost hit his boss and it seemed he was drunk. So instead of having a new driver to drive the shuttle, it was just bad luck and we’d be stuck there and anyway there are no more busses because now it’s late. DAMN!
Conveniently the dude told us he can offer us a taxi and to not trust anyone but him because everyone else is scam. Hm, yeah! Eventually we had to give in if we didn’t want to be stuck there for the rest of the night, as it was already getting dark. So we accepted his taxi offer and he tried to put us in a car with 10 boxes of SHRIMP! It smelled like a whole fish market. After I yelled at him, he organized his brother to drive us in a better car and finally we were on our way to Siem Reap. WAYYYYY too fast. The roads in Cambodia are in terribly poor condition. The speed limits were posted in kmh but the guys car was in mph, so he decided to go 60mph where 60kmh was posted….at least this way was fast and I guess we are still alive, so whatever!
Once at our hostel a mop of angry tourists greeted us. The hostel was completely overbooked! They just accepted walk-ins even though people had booked online. The guy was the unfriendliest unhelpful guy and it took us some serious convincing to make him find us a new hostel (at this point it was 10.30pm!). Eventually we found a more expensive, less nice place and we tried to have him pay the price difference, but he told us to come back to the hostel the next day to talk to his boss.

Except the next day, somebody else was working there who had no idea what was going on, unwilling to help, and the boss is in China and the person in charge is asleep and he can’t wake him up and in general, no. Eventually we gave up.

The next day we rented a tuk tuk to visit the famous temples around Angkor Wat. What a disappointment! It seems a lot like they discovered that they can make a bunch of money on tourists, did a really quick thoughtless restoration (I’ve never seen more obvious messing with a building) and then decided to charge everyone 20$ (that’s a lot for Cambodia!) per day to enter the area.

Our Tuk Tuk Driver dropped us off at Angkor Wat to watch sunrise. But more so we watched the MASSES of tourists streaming in from all directions! I’ve never seen a more touristy place in my life! We were dressed in long clothes, covering knees and shoulders as you are supposed to around temples, but when we entered we realized that nobody paid any respect! Girls were wearing pants with the butt cheeks hanging out and a cleavage all the way down to their belly button. There was just no magic in this place at all, especially this combined with the cheap restoration and the hordes of tourists.

Oh well! We spent the day driving/walking around other temples and we liked Te Prohm a lot. A temple that they actually left to nature and huge trees have grown over the ruins! That was pretty sweet!

We tried to get free breakfast the next morning at our hostel, but the lady told us that free breakfast is included only in different room rates, and that we would’ve had to pay 5$ more to have included breakfast (Their sign outside advertises *ALL ROOMS INCLUDING BREAKFAST*). We kindly pointed out to her that “including” normally means that you don’t pay an extra fee, but she didn’t give a shit.

After Siem Reap we thought about going to a beach town, but considering the bad road conditions and that every single bus goes through Phnom Penh we decided to go straight to Phnom Penh and leave the beaches for Vietnam.

Phnom Penh is okay, but not very nice. We felt people tried to rip us off (e.g. 20$ for a small bag of cherries or our room, that came with free 1kg of laundry per person, but coincidentally the laundry lady had just quit, so no laundry for us HUH!?).

We heard the people were supposed to be so friendly in Cambodia but everybody seemed very grumpy, nobody smiled or greeted when we greeted.
Cambodia just put us in a worse and worse mood the longer we were there. We had planned to stay in this country for 3 weeks, but after 1 we decided to give up and leave.

Sometimes you just can’t force it. Sometimes it’s better to give in and just leave it at that, then trying really hard to like it and feel miserable. It was probably a mix of bad luck and high expectations after beautiful amazing Myanmar and its people.

As soon as we crossed the border to Vietnam (in a really shitty Cambodian bus that left no leg room even for tiny me) we felt relieved and happy about our decision! Vietnam is awesome so far, but more next time 🙂

Sorry there are only pics of Siem Reap, Cambodia didn’t make me feel like taking pictures, grumpy people, grey unspectacular landscapes and cities…

2 Gedanken zu „How to have a bad time in Cambodia – and sometimes it’s better to move on

  1. Sorry to hear you guys didn’t have a good time in Cambodia – I only spent a few days there but liked them so much that I do wanna go back. But then, I hadn’t been to Myanmar yet at that point – going there first probably does raise the bar quite high for the rest of SE Asia!

    Good to hear that things are off to a better start in Vietnam! 🙂

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