Today was a travel day – between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Unlike the rest of the tour, we took a public bus service for this section. The bus left Phnom Penh at 8, so we had a quick breakfast in the hotel before jumping onto a transfer bus, then connecting to a large coach for the 7 hour journey north.
The bus itself was fairly comfortable and had wifi (once they figured out they needed to plug in the router) as well as at seat power, but ultimately it was still a 7 hour coach ride and wasn’t the highlight of the tour!
Since Jackie and I got the front row seat (pre-reserved by Gadvantures for us), we ended up with the router in our seat area. It kept coming unplugged, so I grabbed some gaffa tape which I had in my bag and taped it into the plug socket – the connection was pretty solid after that!
We stopped 3 times including a lunch stop at a local place where they served VERY fast and reasonable quality food to two bus loads in a matter of minutes. Impressive!
I won’t write too much about the journey – who wants to hear about that – but safe to say 7 hours passed, there was rain, some scenery, and some boring bits.
When we arrived in Siem Reap, the bus dropped us in a kind of make shift bus station and we transferred to a Gadventures bus to go to our hotel. The luggage was a bit of mayhem, since they unloaded the whole bus into one big pile, but it was quickly resolved.
Our hotel in Siem Reap is one that i’ve been really looking forward to since I saw the details of all the places we’re booked into. It’s a resort hotel called the Royal Angkor Resort and it has a huge pool, as well as a beautifully scented public areas. When we arrived we were shown to a welcome room where we sat for a few minutes, were presented with welcome drinks and cool towels and introduced to the features of the hotel – it felt very fancy!
After checking in and sorting things in the room, I headed down to the pool for a swim and a couple of cocktails – happy hour was from 3 till 7pm, perfect timing! Almost the whole day had been consumed by the bus journey, so there was just time for us to head into down for dinner in the night.
At 6pm we met for the hotel shuttle into the city. The shuttle was an elongated golf cart which was quite a vehicle for the 15-20 minute ride into the centre of Siem Reap. Dek arranged for us to be dropped off at an area called Pub Street, which is kind of the social centre of Siem Reap. It had a great vibe to it, and we quickly picked a bar offering $4 buy one get on free cocktails for some pre-dinner drinks. Being on my own, I of course had to buy one and get one free… if you’re keeping count, thats 4 cocktails before dinner. Oops!
After a couple of pre-dinner cocktails, Dek took us to the Red Piano – a bar made famous because it was the hangout of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie during the filming of the Tomb Raider movies and Angkor Thom. They had such an influence on the place that there is a Tomb Raider cocktail, created by Angelina, which of course I had to try. The vibe was great in this part of town, with live music from some of the bars, an plenty of tourists around enjoying the ambiance.
After dinner we shared a tuktuk or two back (at $3 for the 15 minute ride, nobody was complaining) and headed to bed. Tomorrow, we have a 4:45am start…. remind me why I drank 5 cocktails with a start like that!