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Phnom Penh

The promised big, air-con coach from Ho Chi Minh City turned out to be a 10 seat Toyoto Hiace minibus. It only took us to the border, however, where we had to cross over and meet a bus on the other side, which was included in the price, to Phnom Penh. We sat down at the cafe where we were supposed to meet it, and waited... and waited.

After an hour and a half, a wrecked bus finally appeared, but when we went over to board it the driver told us he was hungry and he was going to be eating for the next hour. I suspected they were stalling to get us to spend more money in the cafe so I went out to price a taxi to the capital. It was $25 dollars, but I didn't want to spend the rest of my day hanging around there so I told the bus driver that either he left now or we got a taxi. He then said he had to check with his boss, who was, surprise, surprise, also the owner of the cafe!

So we took a taxi, and we were glad we did. The road varied from having a decent tarmac surface to being a dusty, potholed nightmare. Cambodia seems much poorer than most of South-East Asia, and some of the houses we passed were built from mud and sticks.

The taxi dropped us off in the backpacker district, which is truly a disgusting ghetto, with a dirt road extending down to guesthouses built over a filthy lake, and full of stoned backpackers. We were tired, however, and looked at a couple of rooms but they were too filthy to even think about spending the night in. One of the places had a sign on the bathroom saying "Do not piss on the floor", and outside the wasted staff tried harder to sell us drugs than a room. Luckily, after a short walk around the corner, we found a lovely, newly built place, the Phi Paris Hotel, and booked into a spotless room with satellite tv and a fridge.

Tomorrow, we have to catch the 0645 bus to Angkor Wat, the only bus of the day. We know we're going to be on it for at least 8 hours, we know it's going to be wrecked, and we know they're going to try to rip us off, so we're really looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, this site has some info about travelling in Cambodia.

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