After an unplanned one day stay in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), I made sure that I wake up early so that I wouldn’t get left behind again(although I left my toiletries! geez, always leaving something when in a hurry!), I am bound to Cambodia by bus.
(Bus from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh)
Tickets and Visa
The trip was at 6.30am and the hotel I’m staying in is just right beside the bus tour office. The ticket from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap is $17USD making it $10USD from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh and $7USD from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. However, if you do not have the visa to Cambodia, you can just pay $25USD for your visa at the border (the tour guides will assist you). For the ASEAN members, visa is not required. Filipinos can stay up to 21days without a visa.
At the border…
At the border, depending on the bus company, passengers are required to go to the immigration and present your passport for the stamp. Sometimes, they requires that you get off with your luggage, sometimes just yourself at the Vietnam border control area.
No need to check the luggage at the Cambodian border control, just need to line up for the entry stamp. Funny that there was one Cambodian Immigration Officer that keeps talking in Tagalog.
Immigration Officer (IO): Filipino ka? (Are you Filipino?)
Me: OO (Yes).
IO: May asawa o wala? (Married or not?)
Me: Wala (Nope).
IO: Mahal Kita. (I love you!) Mahal mo ako? (Do you love me?)
Me: Hahahaha! Why do you know how to speak Tagalog?
IO: I have Filipino friends. Mahal Kita, Mahal mo ako? (repeating his questions once again!)
Me: Salamat!(Thank You!) Hahahaha! Have a Great Day!…. And I left because it’s getting too awkward as there were other Filipinos around smiling!
It was fun crossing the border. At the other side of the Cambodian border, I get to change some of my Vietnam Dongs to Cambodian Reals which is cool because I thought I would not be bale to use it until I’m back in Vietnam again, God knows when!
My journey does not stop here, I still have 8 more hours to travel. 2 hours more to Phnom Penh for a bus change and 4 hours to Siem Reap.
Cambodia’s local currency is Real. However, most of their prices are in US dollars, $1= 4,000 Real. So, you may be paying in dollars but they will give you the change in Real.
(Taken from the bus on a RORO boat crossing the river)
Then off to continue the journey, and what’s cool? The bus has to ride a short RORO boat trip to cross the river. They said this will still go on until the bridge is built for that matter, but it’s cool simple system! It was just like a 2 minutes roro boat ride just keeps coming back and forth.
Dining and Drinking
Food is everywhere in Siem Reap. Whatever you like, local or International Cuisine? Name it. The price ranges from $1-$10 regarding on the food you’d like and where to dine. I had my first Cambodian dinner at the outdoor restaurant just beside the Old Market which seems like the Carinderias in the Philippines, but they are all cooked fresh (so it’s safer from bugs! :D). It cost me $1 for my Ginger Beef Fried Rice and $.75 cents for Watermelon Shake. Cool hey? If you’re not THAT fussy, then it’s cool! 😉
(Cambodian Fried Rice and Mango Shake)
My Breakfast, Cambodian Fried Rice-$1.50 and a Mango Shake $.50, and this is from a decent local restaurant. Western restaurants are everywhere as well with prices ranging from $5 and up, but you can expect the top class service and ambiance. I also notice that draft beers are served from $.50 and up, depending on the brand or type you like, again, its from a decent bar and restaurant.
It is dining on the edge here, as most budget people will say dining in an out of the budget range, you’ll be tempted to splurge here a bit but even budget travellers like me can truly afford it, but I’m not splurging! I’ll stick to my budget(that’s me being stubborn to stretch my trip longer). Anyway, I’ll give you more detailed report on my everyday observation here in Siem Reap, for now I can say that crossing borders is as a real adventure to a solo traveller like me! Also, Cambodians are warm and all friendly, I love them!