After nearly three weeks in Thailand I crossed over into Cambodia via a seven hour bus ride. I had read on the internet that it can be tricky to enter the country due to bribes. My advice to you? Stand your ground and refuse to pay.

First break before entering Cambodia. 

It’s true, bribery and fake visa scams are a fact. Apart from that, it was an unforgettable experience for me to enter this country. I immediately sensed a change in the air the minute I neared the border. Being the only African on the bus I certainly got a lot of looks from security. While everyone was processed quickly, I waited for a long time to be attended to while the bus waited. I was frustrated beyond belief, tears rolling down my eyes. At this moment I caught the attention of one immigration officer who asked me how much money I had, how long would I would be staying and where I was going next. He suggested I go to another office where I was met with a bribe request on top of a visa fee.

Cambodian Boarder.
They certainty are not ashamed for asking. I told them I had no extra money. They gave me back my passport and I sat down again and waited for another officer but I didn’t relent about paying extra. This was my worst experience on a border crossing since I started travelling. While everyone on the bus got their visa in about 30 mins, mine took about 90.

Driving into rural Cambodia reminded me a bit of rural areas in Uganda. Cambodia is not as developed as Thailand, so things were a bit different. We arrived in Siem Reap at around 6 pm. I was excited to be in a new environment. After having a difficult time entering the city, the people themselves were so nice. I set out to explore a little bit of Siem Reap at night. They have a Pub street which I really liked. There were many different kinds of restaurants and pubs with a good vibe. Cambodia is cheaper compared to Thailand in terms of food prices with bigger potions.

Some street art.

The pub street.

Siem Reap Night Market.

Later I took a stroll into the night market which I really liked because the prices seemed reasonable.

After wandering around a bit, I had to get back to my hostel but my phone was dead. I found out I walked 2 km away from my hostel until I found a good Samaritan to help me check on his map where I was. Luckily enough, he decided to drop me back to my hostel on his bike.

The good Samaritan.

The following day I woke up at 3:45 am to visit the famous Angkor Wat Temple and other renowned places of worship. I had a one day pass but you can also get a 3 day pass to see all the many temples. It was so cold in the wee hours of the morning riding behind a tuk tuk. The rider took me and another partner to go buy the tickets for the entrance. After getting the tickets we rode for about 40 mins or so to Angkor Wat. It was still dark when we arrived but it was beautiful waiting for the sun to rise behind the temple. We were unlucky for it was cloudy that morning but other than that, it was still spectacular to see the largest religious monument in the world. It was first built as a Hindu temple as a tribute to the god Vishnu but later on gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. Our tour lasted 90 minutes.

In front of the temple.

Angkor Wat.

From there we headed on to Angkor Thom, another beautiful ancient temple which was the last Capital city of the Khmer empire established in the 12th century. The temple is uniquely built with face towers at each entrance.

One of the face tours.

Angkor Thom temple.

One of the many entrances to the temple.

The last temple I saw was Ta Prohm. The movie “Tomb Raider” was filmed there. It was so amazing with giant trees growing out of the walls with most of it in distinguished ruins. I was so amazed by this and it’s a good spot for taking photos. This is one of Ankor’s most popular temples and it was designated a UNESCO site in 1992.

Selfie at the famous location.

Tomb raider location.

Ta Prohm.

Amazing huge roots protruding the temple walls.

After all these three temples, I decided it was time to take a break since it was scotching hot. I relaxed all afternoon before I went out later in the pub with a friend. I did not spend much time in Siem Reap because I had less time in cambodia. But there are some things to do there like visiting the Land mine museum, floating village and enjoying a cooking class. 

My next blog post will take you to Banlung!

0 Responses

  1. Nice story Zulaika, I hope you are doing well.. I have been to Cambodia twice and no one ever asked me for a bribe.I am surprised to hear about this.

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