Bangkok to Siem Reap

We bargained hard with tuktuk driver number two and arrived at the Grand Palace just as everybody else did. Holiday season had doubled the usual crowd leaving us in two minds about whether to go in. We admitted defeat and picked the shorter queue to leave. Plan B: take the water ferry up to backpacker town to see if the KSR lived up to its reputation. The pier was chaos; shouting, whistles and roaring diesel engines. An official-looking guide helped us onto the wrong pier and promised us the tourist boat for 40 baht (80 pence). We dodged, and spent ten minutes puzzling over the flag system while more boats zoomed up to the quay. We changed piers again, and for a third time before making progress. You have to be fast, an orange flag costs 13 baht for a trip similar to a rush-hour tube journey. Overcrowded but exhilarating. Mainly, we were pleased to get something right. We celebrated with a cold beer on a rooftop bar watching the sun set on the riot below. Quite a contrast. 

Tuesday started at 0430 to catch the train to Cambodia. An uncharacteristic gap in street food led us to try deep-fried batter for breakfast. Not good, but better than the curry offered as an alternative. Luckily, hawkers on the train plied us with green mango dipped in sugar salt, boiled monkey nuts, edamame beans and boiled eggs. Most food has a lot of added sugar, even supposedly savoury sandwiches so the urge to brush your teeth is strong. Fingers crossed no dodgy stomachs to reward our adventurous purchases!  

It was a relief to see greenery from the train window after the filth and smell of the city. Life in Bangkok exists in every corner and crevice; under an expressway, a few inches from the railway, and under every market stall. Banana trees, rice fields, fishing nets, water lillies, white storks, dogs and skinny cows were all a welcome change of scenery. After five forms of transport, plenty of hassle at the border and a 12 hour journey, we arrived at Siem Reap deserving our cold beer. This is our base for two days while we explore the temples of Angkor Wat.


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