First off was the hotel bus, which was a bloody experience and a half. It was a thin aisled bus with bedded cabins either side, the beds were ultimately 2 narrow leather beds side-by-side with a headrest, they had a thin curtain onto the aisle for privacy and an old blanket for cover. Andrew and Roxanne got comfortable in their cabin, which led to me wondering who I would be sharing this makeshift bed with for the night. When we pulled away I was over the moon to be alone and got comfortable over the 2 beds. Within the hour a local Cambodian man ripped back the curtain clambered in over me and lay down besides me without so much of a nod as acknowledgment, for the next hour his phone was ringing constantly; with a ringtone of a meowing cat, all I could do was laugh at the situation I was in. It appeared the free bed next to me was being used as the bus staffs bed, where they spent their break from work, which meant every hour a different Cambodian worker would climb out over me and a different man would climb in. The 4 men I spent the night with that night all provided different annoyances, first off was the man with the meowing phone, second was the man who elbowed me for the entire hour, next was the man who kept trying to put his legs over mine and the fourth was a serial fidgeter and snorer…these 4 men rotated hourly for the entire 11 hour journey…and I was crying of tiredness and feeling very sorry for myself by the time the leg over mine man was on his second visit.
I was very tired when we arrived in Siem Reap and explained my nights ordeal to Roxanne and Andrew, who had both slept well and enjoyed the hotel bus experience… We couldn’t help but laugh as I explained how I listened to sad music on my iPod and cried to myself as the men took turns in my bed. I was cheered up slightly when we arrived at our next destination, Garden Village. It felt more of a hotel resort than backpacker digs, and I was chuffed to have been upgraded to my own double room with private bathroom! I did what I needed to do, which was pamper myself and sleep to wash away the nights experience.
After just one night at garden village, I decided to check into the Siem Reap Hostel on the other side of town, despite loving the accommodation I had been feeling lonely the past few days, and wanted to surround myself with solo backpackers again, rather than stay in a room by myself. Over my time here I got chatting to various different people, enjoyed drinks at the pool bar with European guys, Americans and lots of Canadians. It was just what I needed after feeling like a third wheel for the last part of my travels.
Back over at Garden village were Stu and Callum, our friends from Koh Rong, so I spent plenty of time catching up with them, with Roxanne and Andrew. Together we played pool on the heavily cellotaped table, ate daily at our favourite local cafe in town, explored the markets and caught up on each other’s travel stories. One night we all headed out for a curry, which we were unable to finish due to a local lady sitting outside with a small kitten, we noticed her smacking it quite hard, and some time later she was dipping the kittens head into her beer, and shoving it’s face into her bowl of curry…we couldn’t watch and told her to stop, it was cruel. She seemed out of it and to have no idea where she was, she didn’t acknowledge anyone asking her to stop. Her (western) partner also sat there oblivious to the scene. We left the curry house feeling sick and with a bad impression. To top it off, as I walked back to the other side of town towards my hostel, I saw a floating dog dead in the river…Siem Reap was not looking good.
The next day was Andrews birthday, which we spent exploring Angkor Wat (link to my post on our day here!) After a short sleep until 4pm we met and headed out into Siem Reap for a BBQ dinner of chicken skewers and fried morning glory. A group of us from Garden Village headed out to Pub Street, the backpacker nightlife here in town. First up was the infamous Angkor What?! bar, which is a dark and heavily neon graffitied bar, it was a pretty cool bar which didn’t suit the cheesy pop music it continuously played. We watched as 2 glamorously camp local lads performed dance routines in the road, which led to a full on street party late into the night.
The next day was a sad one as Andrew left for Bangkok, ready to start his journey back to England. Like I have said, I hate goodbyes and got teary saying goodbye to my travel buddy and friend for the last few months. I met Roxanne later for lunch, who was unsurprisingly very upset at his departure, as she would be travelling to Malaysia the next day for another month of travels before heading home, and Andrew would be moving back to the Spanish island of Tenerife where he lived and worked..throwing a spanner into the works of their relationship. I did my best to cheer her up and took her to The Happy Ranch, where we spent the afternoon horse riding through Siem Reaps untouched countryside.
It was just Roxanne, myself and our guide “King Kong”, I enjoyed the small group, my horse ‘Bayou’ was very unpredictable, which after not horse riding for many years scared me slightly. We walked, trotted and cantered through fields full of cows, water buffalo in swamps and past local communities where the children shouted hello as we went past. It was in one of the swamps where the horses panicked slightly, it was quite deep marshland and much to my entertainment Roxannes horse decided to just sit down in the swamp, plunging Roxannes white converse into the mud and grime.
Our guide was really informative, we stopped for a break to allow the horses a drink of water, here local kids tended to the horses. Kong told us about his home life, about how he wished he had paler skin so he could get a beautiful girlfriend, and that we were lucky to be so pale. He told us he had worked at the ranch for 6 years, and his earnings were recently increased to $280 a month, he is currently saving up to afford the yearly $480 university fees. I was surprised at the university price, and expected it to cost a lost more. We cantered back to the Ranch and said our farewells to the guide and horses, we had had a good afternoon but we’re ready for some food.
I was feeling sad as Roxanne and I headed out for dinner, it would be our last meal together, as the next day she was heading to Malaysia with Stu and Calleum. We ate our favourite meal of cashew nut curry and reminisced of the the last few months of travelling together over a few cocktails. Roxanne and Andrew have both become some of my best friends over the past few months and I couldn’t quite believe they would both be gone. We hugged it out, promising to stay in touch until we meet up back in England. I felt sad saying goodbye, but also confident that I would see her again. Feeling nostalgic and ready to leave Siem Reap I quickly decided to book a bus for the very next morning to take me to Bangkok, alone, and back to where it all began.