Shit. I almost missed my plane.
Even with Mark giving me an early wakeup call at both 6:40AM and 7:05AM, I still managed to sleep again… only to wake up at 8AM and rush to Taipei Main Station! 🙁
Gawd, if I missed my plane, I’ll kill myself.
Anyway, upon arriving at the bus station, I bumped into a mutual girl friend on the bus itself and spent the whole hour talking to her about life here and abroad, Taiwanese men, the organization am part of, among others. Oh well, there goes my additional sleeping time… though no regrets since I got to know her better and found out that she’s pretty nice.
After checking in and almost giving myself a heart attack since they couldn’t find my electronic ticket (it was with another airline stewardess), I finally met up with Lauren at the Omni Cafe. I splurged on an expensive NT$120 latte before going in immigration.
Everything went smoothly except when they x-rayed my bag and found my mosquito repellant can dangerous, but good thing, they thought that the risk of malaria is higher, so they still let me bring it (though this was later confiscated at the Siem Reap airport).
The flight itself was uneventful except when I saw the acronym of our plane.
I thought they were joking… our airline’s full name was the Far East Asia Transport Airline, otherwise known as FAT.
Couldn’t help but giggle that we’re flying FAT.
Upon arriving at the airport, I foolishly paid US$20 for a visa, not knowing that Cambodia is part of ASEAN and I don’t need to pay for one. God, I really got screwed with this.
Our driver, Rasy, picked us up and offered his services as an English tour guide, which we accepted after we checked in our hotel. We stayed at the Lotus Angkor Hotel, an unassuming hotel in the middle of the town of Siem Reap.
Welcomed by the door man with two hands clasped as if in prayer, they immediately made us feel very welcome as they gave us some fresh orange juice as we filled in our forms.
After putting our things in our room, we then headed out as Rasy brought us to the Tonle Sap lake, which reminds me so much of the Pasig river without the pungent smell.
Lining the river where small shanties where huge families lived. They had no airconditioner or other luxuries we’re used to, and all of them would swim and bathe at the dirty river itself.
Most of the Taiwanese I bumped into were very much affected by what they saw at the Tonle Sap lake. Sheltered most of their lives, they have never seen people that poor and were shocked that the children would be viciously fighting over a small piece of candy.
I looked at the scene with jaded eyes — living in Manila, poverty is not a foreign concept for me. I’ve actually seen people poorer than that who don’t even have a shanty to live in. This was when I did my immersion at the Ateneo.
Regardless, it was a pretty good boat ride as my boss and I had the whole boat to ourselves. Of course, we were a bit turned-off when our boatman requested for a US$5 for himself, but hey, that’s life.
After that interesting boat ride, Rasy “unleashed” us to the Siem Reap Central Market where I proceeded to do some shopping (I can’t help it… everything’s so cheap!). Hence, I brought several nice silk bags, t-shirts, books and others, easily spending US$100 just on one day alone!
Bad… bad Raven! 😀
Afterwards, we headed off for dinner. He wanted to bring us to a more expensive restaurant but Lauren and I insisted that we wanted authentic Cambodian cuisine. I mean, what’s the point of going to Cambodia if all we ate are expensive restaurants? Besides, we’re on a strict budget here (especially after spending so much on shopping)!!!
Hence, we ended up eating fried noodles with pork (delicious!) on the street stall and drinking some icy-cold mixed fruit shake (heavenly!). It was a delicious meal at very cheap costs. I think I only paid US$3 for the meal (inclusive of Rasy’s whom we treated to some noodles).
After dinner, we stopped by a fruit stall to buy some tasty mangoosteen, my favorite fruit, which we brought back to the hotel. People who have never tasted this fruit don’t know what they’re missing… careful with your clothes though. Stains from this fruits are hard to get rid off.
Then, we treated ourselve to a nice half-hour foot massage (US$3) and a full-bodied one at US$10. My feet was so relaxed after we were done… ahhhhh…. 🙂
We then headed back to the hotel for a night of rest, as I readed more Cambodian guidebooks, preparing ourselves for a busy day of visiting Angkor Wat’s temples.
To be continued…