Saturday, June 16, 2012

phnom penh to siem reap: a different kind of baking

we might have spent too little time in phnom penh but the two days were worth it, although technically, we only had about 24 hours in the thriving capital. we arrived at noon on our first day and left for siem reap around noon the following day. but who cares? i still like to consider it as two days, given that we had an overnight stay! i'm so random having to argue this triviality with myself.

anyway, i seem not to get enough on writing about our host in phnom penh who was indeed a great help to us and in a way, made us let our guard down and a few of our inherent fears in staying at a new place or country for that matter.

as i age, i have slowly become a sucker for plans though i'm not into an OC-type of planning because i would very much welcome surprises along the way. part of the plan was to secure our transportation from phnom penh to siem reap before we would go about. it became a necessity since it was the weekend and my brother should catch his one and only flight back to manila in siem reap. i know my brother is close to a perfect companion because he willingly agreed with my plan that he would go to phnom penh to meet me and head back to siem reap to catch his flight the day after. he was intrigued with phnom penh's history so i like to think that we had a win-win situation. haha does this make me an evil sister?

back to our host in our guesthouse, mr. seng. he was the one who booked for us with our transport to siem reap which was scheduled the following day. he even echoed my concern that we should book in haste or face the grave consequence of paying hefty re-booking fees for my brother.

Our van from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

meet our mobile oven that turned us into a perfect toast for a good 5-hour journey from phnom penh to siem reap. don't get me wrong. this van had an air-conditioning but the cambodian heat in april overpowered its noble duty. i can't stop myself describing an A/C like this because for me, it was like a treasured oasis in a barren desert.

i never managed to doze off, not even for a minute because i couldn't take in the heat and besides, i normally couldn't sleep in a journey through an unfamiliar route.

Current road-widening efforts

i only contended myself watching the views along cambodia's countryside, observing how the country has that distinct similarities to my country. i also can't seem to stress this enough. take for example, this road-widening project. we intermittently have this sort of project once in a while, more frequent though when the election is fast approaching. but i digress, politics and government are just complicated things to discuss. i'm not also saying that this happens in cambodia because i'm just glad that they have this kind of initiative. the road to siem reap is paved with close to zero bumps, nothing eventful except a few nonchalant cows suddenly crossing the highway like they own it! our driver was certainly used to these cows that we continued in our smooth journey like nothing happened.

Plains and plains

i am easily pleased with simple things. i was beaming with such marvel when i saw these wide plains, though they may look like an arid land with few plants hanging on for their lives. i was more delighted with the palm trees spread across the expanse, which added a certain enchanting appeal to the scenery. would you agree if this looks like palm springs in california? minus the snowy mountains and the urban development. a disclaimer though, i haven't been to palm springs and it may sound shallow for me to compare but it's how i see it. haha

Typical elevated Khmer house

again another case in point is this kind of a khmer house which is very similar with the traditional houses i saw back then in my hometown, long before everyone jumped into the bandwagon of cemented houses. the elevation would serve as shelter for the farm animals, a storage for their crops and even a lounging area where they put up a hammock or bamboo benches. yes, khmer people do the same things!

Peeled santol coated with chili concoction

halfway through, we made a stopover at a restaurant which i think had a tie up deal with the transit company of our van. yes, this is also very typical in the philippines and this is how bus companies roll their way. drivers get some freebies of some sorts, free meals or free take-away bread or sweets for their families. i'm not sure though if this was the exact case with our driver for i was too relieved for the quick stop to concern myself, and i was just elated to stretch my legs and to have a short respite outside our mobile oven.

Crispy fried insects

i may give an impression that all i had seen were typical events back home but these similarities did not bore me. i'm more of amazed by them and how the philippines can have almost the same things and yet, we are too far from cambodia and there's a great sea that separates us.

however, amid these similarities, one thing that did not reach to our shores was these fried insects, ordinarily munched on as snacks. we might have in some far-flung places but not as widespread and normal such as this.

Our stop-over

we stopped by for a while, just enough time to have a quick meal or snack on some insects, whichever you prefer and adhere to some nature calls. their toilet was considerably clean because there was that cheerful woman who frequently splashed the floor with water to instantly remove the dirt from shoes or slippers.

five hours had swiftly gone by and we were soon in siem reap before dusk. at this time, the sun had enough of its torture for the day and all we had was its faint glow and also by this time, the air-conditioning in our van redeemed itself by cooling us off, reminding that it was there all along.


Gold VIP Transport Service & Tour
Phnom Penh Branch
29CEo, Street 05, Sangkat Phsarkanda I, Khan Doun Penh
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Tel: 023 63 27 600 / 070 99 8888 / 017 36 4009

Siem Reap Head Office
Sivutha Market, Street Sivutha
Phom Stoeungthmey Sangkat SvayDangkum,
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Tel: 063 63 27 600 / 070 98 8888 / 017 36 4008

Fare: 10USD/person (Phnom Penh to Siem Reap)

i'm not exactly sure which telephone numbers go to which city because i only copied this information from our ticket. but it is a much better idea if you let your guesthouse book for you to save the trouble of losing important details due to language barrier and probably loose translation.

the van is a good option if you want to reach your destination on time albeit the extra cost. quoting from mr. seng, the van can easily swerve due to its size and can do overtakes and from our experience, they were not the heart-stopping kind of overtakes.


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