I wouldn’t be honest if I say I wasn’t a bit anxious about what to expect in Cambodia. The country doesn’t exactly have a good reputation when it comes to crimes like tourist scams, pickpocketing and so on. But all this turned out to be misconceptions and outright exaggerations. The Cambodians are lovely people who despite their troubled past and current issues, they always have a smile on their faces. Therefore, I can honestly say that Cambodia was a thrilling revelation to me, one that had pleasantly surprised me in so many ways. For that, and other reasons, I’ve extended my stay in Siem Reap for a few more days than planned.
From the moment I first set foot on the amazing Khmer’s land, I had a strong feeling of warmth and the people welcomed me with friendliness and genuine smiles. I landed in Siem Reap International Airport after a short 1 hour flight from Bangkok. It was a hot day and I had a small shock when I got off the plane where they had the aircon blasting out at 15C. The visa on arrival procedure was very simple, quick and efficient, even though the immigration officers were the only Cambodians not smiling. All you need is a passport photo and 20 USD, assuming you have a valid passport. The process takes about 15-20 minutes. You have to fill out some forms and wait for the stamp.
Outside the airport there was a line of taxi and tuk-tuk drivers holding signs with names of the passengers for transfer to their accommodation. The authorities regulated the taxi services at the airport so no more hassle as before. My hostel arranged for my transfer from the airport but the driver wasn’t there yet because I was early so I had a little time to relax and watch the people.
It didn’t take long until my tuk-tuk had arrived and we started driving towards the city. The traffic was dense and colorful. Most of the vehicles were 2-wheelers or tuk-tuks (carts pulled by a motorcycle). It took approximately half an hour to get to the guesthouse and it wasn’t boring at all. My airport pick-up and transfer was provided free by the hostel (otherwise it costs about 5-7USD / one way – depending on your bargaining skills).
In late afternoon I arrived at the European Guesthouse where I reunited with a very special friend and made new acquaintances. The place was a nice and cozy hostel with a very laid back vibe. They had a very nice common space in the front yard garden where you can meet with other guests and share stories over a cold pint of beer.
I spent one week in Siem Reap and it was the highlight of my entire trip to Indochina, that’s why I will break the story in 3 parts: First I will introduce you to The “Fried Friends” Crew – The Amazing People With Whom I Shared The Cambodian Experience and some of the funny moments we had together, in the second part I will explain broadly about Angkor Wat and some of its temples I visited, and finally I will try to squeeze in a post A List of Tips And Facts About Cambodia.