We took the Chann Na speed boat from Battambang to Siem Reap. It is referred to by the Lonely Planet as “Cambodia’s most enchanting boat trip.” Unfortunately, I was battling food poisoning and seasickness. I don’t remember much of that boat trip. I do remember being conked out on Gravol perched on a hard-seated, straight-backed bench with nowhere to rest my head. Boats and Sara do not mix. Boats and food poisoning and Sara are even worse. According to Ryan, the scenery was wonderful and although it took 7 hours to get to Siem Reap the worst part was a numb bum.
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Cambodia is a truly unique country. It’s been through a lot of horrible things, which it is still recovering from. When I first visited the country, it was eye-opening. The poverty and the desperation was like nothing I had ever seen. I’ve since been back, 3 years later, and I found that a lot had changed in that short period of time. The atrocities that happened there in the late 70s will not be forgotten, but the Cambodian people have worked hard to turn their country into an amazing place to travel.
I was so impressed by the change that we ended up moving to Phnom Penh.
We tried to avoid the regular backpacker (read: Lonely Planet) guesthouses and found ourselves at Senghout Hotel. It was great! $12 for an air-con room with cable TV. Seng Hout has a surprisingly nice rooftop garden with panoramic views of the city, and a great group of tuk-tuk drivers who charge less than the going rate for day trips. We rented a tuk-tuk for $15, heading out at about 11AM and returning to the guesthouse at 7PM. Our driver was a nice young man who was eager to make us comfortable.
We booked a bus from Phnom Penh to Kompong Chhnang with Phnom Penh Sorya (15,000r/US$3.75) whose buses leave from Psar Thmei. The bus was supposed to leave at 10:30am but didn’t end up leaving until 12:30pm. While we waited we tried to feel the benefit of the Phnom Penh Sorya bus terminal “cool down zone”.
Oh, Phnom Penh. Such a shithole. The butt crack of the world — where the scum settles in the tourist area. So many beggars and ruthless business people selling their everything (including their children). I felt generally unsafe in Phnom Penh. Maybe because of the horror stories I had read. Maybe because on the first night a child, who we wouldn’t buy a bracelet from, followed us through the streets and called us shitheads. I’m not sure. What I am sure of though, is that Phnom Penh is not the most accurate or pleasant introduction to Cambodia.