I boarded the Giant Ibis bus at 9:45 this morning and was pleased to find that the bus was new, modern, air-conditioned and not crowded. It even had WiFi
We headed out of town and eventually found ourselves heading north on a two-lane paved Road.
It was a great way to see a bit of rural Cambodia from the comfort of the bus.
On the Road
Here are some of the things I noticed:
- Bright new mosques. Could they be courtesy of the Saudi Arabians?
- Fish farming
- Every village seem to have a bright new two-story building painted in bright colors. I suppose it may have been courtesy of international Aid agencies but the buildings looked curiously empty.
(N.B. In a later conversation in Don Khone, I learned that they were probably constructed by the villagers with money from the sales of logs. I learned that Cambodians will sacrifice everything, even proper meals, to build a home.
- Cambodian People’s Party signs were everywhere. They certainly weren’t campaign posters because this is a one-party state. I suppose that it was to remind the villagers that the Cambodian people’s party was keeping an eye on them.
- Very skinny cows and very sturdy water buffalo.
- Chicken farms
- Marshland with houses on stilts
- English schools
A lot of water lilies and extensive rice patties. It was clear that the Cambodian countryside is made up of fertile land as there was an appealing variety of tropical trees.
We stopped twice. The first stop was an impressive spread clearly designed to capture tourists on buses between Phenom Penh and Siem Reap. There was a lot to lot to buy and a lot to look at. I imagine this is where villagers come to celebrate a wedding or holiday.
We made another stop for lunch and then pulled into Siem Reap at about 4.
Hima Boutique Hotel
The Hima Boutique Hotel sent a driver to pick me up which was convenient. The common areas and room were outfitted with wood panelling which made a nice change.
It took quite some time to ask the front desk to arrange for a tour tomorrow. Big tour? Short tour? It took a while to understand that the “short tour” was actually longer than the “big tour”. Half day? Sunrise? I finally settled on a tour that will begin at 5 in the morning tomorrow! But I will get a two-day pass so I could return the following day and see more temples.
By the time that was all arranged there wasn’t much time left to explore the city. I took a short walk, looking for a place to eat I took a short walk, looking for a place to eat and finally landed at a lovely looking place just two doors down from my hotel. It was Jomnan’s Kitchen, extravagantly decorated with lots of wood and goldfish swimming around in illuminated canals. It look it looked as hell it should be pricey but it wasn’t. I learned that the restaurant was created by an Cambodian woman whose Journey took her from a refugee camp to life in America where she apparently did quite well. She opened this place as way to give back to her country. A percentage of the proceeds go to charitable endeavors. The Khmer food was delicious.