Tag Archives: Cambodia

So this road trip… We could have been in a chartered big air conditioned tour bus for around $10 each. However, a relative recommended this driver and his van, although there is no AC, because he knows his way through Siem Reap and he will stay with us and drive us down to Penom Penh. That seemed like a good deal. There were 9 of us and they said his van will fit 13 people.

Little did we know, the driver was half deaf, the speedometer and headlights of the car was broken, and the car fit 8 people comfortably and two people had to squeeze up front with the driver. (there was a pull down bitch seat that Ben put his injured foot on in the back) Overall, it was an adventure.

Our windows were rolled down the whole time and we had to keep our face masks on, because the dirt roads were dusty. We had a 4-5 hour road trip to Siem Reap, except that it got dark and our headlights were broken. I think at one point we resorted to sticking flashlights out the window to light the path. We got in to a repair shop in a small village where we were stuck for 3 hours. 3 HOURS! They made a temporary fix to leave the headlights on for the duration of the travel and we headed on. There was also something wrong with the main circuit… which would power off the car every now and then.

Dogs are rampant in Cambodia and for a lot of people they are sort of like rats. They are abundant, mangy, and they have no remorse when you hit them with a car. Our other host, Sophea’s cousin hit two dogs, she was saying. “I’m glad it wasn’t a pig, since we wouldn’t be able to run over it.” Right. Our driver, of course, hit one that leaped out onto the street. We felt the bump in the back tire, and looked back, and the dog kept going. Poor thing.

And the corrupt cops… There were a group of police officers stopping cars on our way from Pursat to Siem Reap. They pulled us over, gave us some shit about looking behind us, and our driver paid them money. However, the f-ed up thing is, the next day in the paper, cops did this to a soldier AT THE SAME INTERSECTION. The soldier, who was a high ranking officer, didn’t stop. The cops started to shoot and the officer shot back. The officer ended up killing two cops. No joke.

Eventually around 11 that night (we were trying to get there around 7-8), we got to Siem Reap. We were relieved. We stayed there for 2 nights. Unfortunately the quick fix to the headlights wasn’t a permanant fix, so we stayed an extra night so we didn’t need to drive in the dark. (Although for some reason, on our trip to Penom Penh, we got there very late. We were on the roat for 7 hours, when the anticipated time was 5.) The kicker was that when Sophea’s cousin kept telling us we were lucky as the guys pushed the cars away from the driveway. I didn’t understand that it stopped starting. I thought there just wasn’t enough room to maneuver. Can you imagine? One more bathroom stop and we would have been stranded again?

Ankor was impressive and vast, though. I was surprised we were allowed in so many corridors. Sophea made a good point that Ankor Thom was peaceful, with less people, and beautiful. Ankor Wat was just vast.

I spent 3-4 days (left on the fourth day) and 3 nights in Pursat, a small village between Penom Penh and Siem Reap. Following the wedding, we took a road trip (on that 4rth day) and spent 2 nights in Siem Reap, a larger village/small city. There, we went to the Ankor/Bangor region and saw the temples. The area where we stayed was cheaper than the 5 star hotel strips, rustic, but still slightly touristy.

Come to think of it, a lot of my time there was spent in a damn car. After the 24+ hour plane trip, we had a 3 hour car ride ahead of us to Pursat. Then, we had a 4-5 hour car ride to Siem Reap, except our car had to be repaired along the way, so add another 3 hours. SERIOUSLY. Then, it was a 5-6 hour car ride back to Penom Penh, which took much longer than that.

So, I really appreciated it when we got off the car, that first day, and the first thing they do is to take us to cut down a banana tree. We sat in the back of the pick up and drove through the village. It was kind of fun. Then, when we cut down the banana tree, we sat on the sides of the back, which was an exciting ride. I mean, people pile on and ride these things in huge groups, so we were doing it like the locals, you know? I guess no seat belts required.

Yes, we needed a load of coconuts and like two whole banana trees for the wedding. At the time, I was thinking, “that’s not how we harvest bananas in Farmville,” but apparently banana trees only bear fruits once. (Apparently banana trees aren’t really a tree, and once the stalk bears fruit, it dies. You can cut it down and a new one will grow through the root/stalk.) I was looking forward to having some bananas. Little did I know that they were going to spray paint the whole thing silver and decorate the front of the tent in an arch of the banana trees. Like, you would think they would just get fake trees if you wanted to spray paint them silver. I don’t get it.

Anyway, her relatives there mumbled something about going to cut down banana trees to be a tradition or good luck or something and sent us on our way. With one other local and someone’s aunt/grandmother to guide us, us white people went to cut down a banana tree. No joke! It required couple of poles, pushing the trunk/stalk down and hacking at it. This was all in someone else’s backyard. I think we cut a stalk of coconuts, also, where the local kid just jumped up on a coconut tree and climbed up barefoot, cut some down, and climbed and jumped back down. Just like that. They gave me a coconut to drink and it was quite delicious. Unfortunately, these coconuts suffered the same spray painted fate as the bananas. (I guess we can still drink from them, right? Still, I never found out what happened to them after the ceremony and reveling. They really like spray painting fruits, though. They spray painted some limes, too.