Photo Courtesy of The World in Photo, www.twip.org/
Hello, Cambodia! As the fourth stop on our several month backpacking excursion, my best friend Donna and I were stoked to finally be in Cambodia, home to Angkor Wat and Angelina Jolie’s adopted son, Maddox. We’d flown in from Vientiane, Laos, and arrived at about 8:45am. The Siem reap airport is simply gorgeous; it’s very small, just a simple, open building with lush, fragrant gardens surrounding it and a teeny courtyard filled with flowers in the center. Having already obtained our visas while in Bangkok, we bypassed the arrivals line and went straight to passport control. We scooped our bags from the single revolving baggage carousel (surprisingly, no luggage had yet been lost) and went to negotiate transportation into town.
We snagged a taxi for $5, sharing the fee with two girls from an indeterminate European country we’d met in line at the taxi stand. Our little foursome was friendly at first, but once inside the taxi, the girls lapsed into their native language and Donna and I were forced to converse with each other in plain old English. The first hostel our driver took us too was a tad expensive (a notion very subjective at this time), so we decided to push on to the next. Armed with our trusty Lonely Planet (Southeast Asia on a shoestring), we arrived at the Popular Guesthouse, near Pokambor Avenue.
Using my superior bargaining skills, I haggled the hotel 'maître'd’ down from $6 a night to $5, meaning Donna and I each paid $2.50 per night. What bargaining prowess! The room was actually quite luxurious, much more so than Donnie and I were expecting. We could have snagged a dorm room for $2, but we figured a private room was well worth the extra 50 cents. And when I say luxurious, keep in mind we'd been staying in places that didn't have flush toilets, so the sight of indoor plumbing was enough to make us flush with success and high five each other in delight. We’d made it!