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Winter Vacation - Hanoi/Siem Reap, Cambodia 2007/01/02

Goodbye Vietnam. Hello Cambodia


View Winter Vacation 2006 on agc_cwm's travel map.

We woke up a little later than we normally did, showered and ran downstairs just in time for breakfast. After breakfast I went to the banks to try to change our Vietnamese Dong in US$, but it turns out you can only do that at the airport. While I was doing this Court started to pack.

I made it back to the hotel to help finish packing. Once we finished we went downstairs to wait for our taxi to the airport. There were three groups of people waiting for cabs and one group looked pretty shifty and I thought they were going to steal our cab. When the first cab pulled up we made a bee line for it. It also turns our it was our cab. But, oh well.

We left our hotel and were weaving through all the traffic and motorbikes for 15 minutes when our driver started to slow down and pointed to the warning light that had come on. He gestured that someone else was coming and all we could do was sit tight and wait. We were both a little worried because we thought we made be late and we didn't really know what was going on. We waited another 15 minutes for the other taxi then continued on our way to the airport. We got there in loads of time, so everything was ok.

We got to the airport and figured out what line to get in to check our bags. We checked in and went through customs and immigration. Once we got through I went looking for a money exchange, but there was none in this area they were all outside. I was a little miffed about this. I didn't really want to carry a lot of Vietnamese currency around, but I didn't have an option.

We went up and got some overpriced food at the airport and some duty-free chocolate. Then we sat and read for a bit. While we were in Vietnam we saw all these people walking around selling books. They were everywhere. I was always wondering where they got so many copies of these books (we forgot to mention this in our other blog). When we were in Hoi An, Court finished her book so we went to a book exchange. While we were there we looked at the books and finally figured out why there were so many copies around. Most of them were photocopies. They would photocopy the inside pages and print off a colour copy of the cover and then sell them for $3-5. We picked up a few of these books in Hoi An because we needed something else to read. So, we sat and read these books in the airport while waiting for our flight.

We were surprised by this: when it was time for us to board they called for economy class to board first. Jeez, finally someone realized it is easier for everyone if the people at the back of the plane board first. Then they don't have to dodge people in business class. We got on and found we had three seats to ourselves, so we stretched out and took up as much space as we could.

The flight was fine and uneventful. We were on the plane with a Japanese tour group and a Turkish tour group.

When we landed in Cambodia we had to get in line to fill out our visa paperwork (looking back we should have done this in Vietnam). We filled out our paperwork then it was looked at by about 5 people which was 4 more than needed to do. The workers were sitting in a line and our passport was passed down the line and everyone looked at it. Eventually it ended up at one guy who had to call out your name. Poor guy; he mangled every name he came across. But, he did have to pronounce Chinese, Korean, and English names all within 5 minutes and he was laughing at himself.

We got our passports back then went through immigration. We stood there for a minute and picked a line. We won again and picked the slowest line possible. This was frustrating, and I kept wanting to switch lines. However, we finally did get through. We got our bags and met the driver to take us to our hotel (which turned out to be the worst hotel we stayed in; it looked like a university dorm that was converted to a hotel. Our bathtub tap leaked, the bathroom door wouldn't close, the sink leaked all over the floor; it wasn't good. But, it was $20 a night).

We got checked in and went off to see some traditional dancing. As we were leaving the hotel, there were a bunch of tuk-tuk drivers waiting around the gates. One of them (the first of many) asked us if we needed a driver to see the temples the next day. We were just going to find one later, but since he asked, and he seemed nice enough, we decided to hire him for the next day. We also made the split-second decision to go out there for sunrise, which meant leaving our hotel at 5am. Ugh, but you can only see your first sunrise at a Khmer temple once, so we went with it. We introduced ourselves, arranged a price, and our driver Vut promised he would see us in the morning.

We went to a 5 star resort for dinner and to watch the show. We had dinner and then the show started. Our seats weren't the greatest, but we hadn't made a reservation or anything, and we didn't figure we were well dressed enough to start complaining. The dancing and the costumes were really beautiful. You'll have to take our word for it, because only some of our pictures turned out at all, and they're sort of grainy.

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After the show, we found an internet cafe to contact our parents to tell them we were in another country. We stopped at a convenience store to finally buy some soap and shampoo, and also some snacks for our very early morning, and then went to the hotel and went to bed.

Posted by agc_cwm 04:45 Archived in Vietnam

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