From Bangkok to Siem Reap: Buses, pickup trucks, and tuk tuks
28 January, 2009, 03:39 am in "Cambodia"
Our journey from Bangkok to Siem Reap started around 6:15 AM. The bus ride to the bus station went smoothly getting us to the station 10 minutes before the bus to the border left. This bus took about 4 ˝ hours to get to the border town, Aranyaprathet. From here we caught a tuk tuk which, after being screamed at for trying to take us to a fake Cambodian Consulate, took us to the real border.
We walked to Cambodia (over a bridge) and went to get our Cambodian visa. The visa costs $20 but the guards want to over charge. Of course they said they couldn't break the $100 bill so we had to pay in baht. They said each visa would cost 1000 baht (about $30) for “express service”. We finally settled for about $25 (800 baht) which is the same price as an e-visa, a reasonable compromise, for “non-express” service. We had our visas in about 2 minutes which made us speculate how fast “express” service must be.
We walked a bit to get out of tout range, and found a pick-up truck going to Sisophan. There were just 2 people in the back and a lot of plastic containers. We boarded. I sat on a spare tire and Rowshan on the edge of the truck bed with the other 2 truck bed passengers. Then we saw/smelled that the containers had been used for fish. There was a big plastic bag of fish and a small bucket with a few fish lying in it.
Once the pickup was moving, the fish smell blew off. It was actually quite enjoyable riding in the pick-up bed. The rush of wind cooled us and the road was surprisingly good-- a new one. The landscape spread out in green, gold and browns. Before reaching Sisophon, the driver turned down a very bumpy dirt road. We stopped in front of a small wooden house and 4 women who had been riding inside the truck cab, climbed out and claimed their plastic tubs, nets, and leftover fish. I guess they are fisher families who had brought their catch to sell at one of the border markets.
In Sisophon, we quickly got into a shared taxi. The road will one day be new but at the moment consists of stretches of new pavement interspersed with stretches of graded dirt. It looks like they are planning to pave it soon. There have been several new bridges put in but are not operable yet so we detoured on dirt paths around them. It is dry season so there isn't much water under them. We arrived in Siem Reap around 4:30 PM or 5.