After a short flight from Singapore me and Dilyan found ourselves in the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. The little, overcrowded and dirty airport was preparing visitors for what was awaiting outside its gates. It was early in the morning and there was a strange smell of dust and food in the air. In front of the terminal, there were numerous taxis and tuk-tuks (the most popular form of transportation in the country).
It turned out that everything here can be achieved only after an exhausting bargaining. The locals, trying to earn some quick bucks, offered their services on double and triple prices. Don’t get me wrong, Cambodia is ridiculously cheap already, but be prepared for bargaining when you feel someone its trying to cheat you.
After we managed to settle on the price, we hopped onto the tuk-tuk. The driver was supposed to take us to the nearest bus station, where we would buy tickets to Siem Reap, the second largest city in Cambodia, famous for its ancient temple complex Angkor Wat.
The streets of Phnom Penh were large and well maintained, something that didn’t apply to the buildings. The air was filled with dust and the sidewalks were berried beneath piles of junk. There weren’t any tall buildings in the capital. Most of the houses and smaller buildings didn’t had doors or windows, but that didn’t bother anyone.
The traffic on the street was so chaotic and complex that neither I not Dilyan managed to understand its rules. Even if there were any traffic lights, nobody was paying any attention to them. When we took our eyes off the main road to the smaller streets on both sides, we saw crowds of people dressed in colorful clothes, women carrying trays on their heads, selling fried grasshoppers and cockroaches, men that were trying to attract customers to their shops and children playing in the dust.
After no more than twenty minutes we arrived at the bus station. I was trying really hard not to panic and completely freak out when I saw the place, that looked more like a ruin rather than a bus station. There wasn’t any proper waiting area, except for the few rows of plastic chairs arranged in a sort of a waiting area. There was a really strong smell of urine in the air. The only link to the civilization as we knew it, were the bags of chips and cookies displayed in the “restaurant” on the opposite side.
The bus tickets cost us about $10. The bus had to go the distance of only 300 kilometers and we were told we ll be travelling for at least seven hours. At first we were confused and puzzled by this statement, but later one we have got an answer to our confusion.
The bus, which arrived at the dusty station was very old. The leather seats were torn and my seat was missing its filling. There weren’t other foreigners on the bus except for us, and the other passengers were looking at us with curiosity. It wasn’t long before we set on the road to Siem Reap.