Monday, 4 June 2012

Cross Border Aranyaprathet - Poipet

Siem Reap
Angkor was discovered in the 19th century and since then Siem Reap began to grow. I was told by a tourist guide that Siem Reap means "Siamese defeated". It is irony since Thailand (Siamese) defeated Cambodia and was in control of Siem Reap and Angkor from 1794 to 1907 (Lonely Planet).

Lepas tu pemandu pelancong tu tanya balik, kenapa nama negara kamu diberi nama Malaysia. Jenuh nak menjawab. Terus keluar fakta pemisahan Tanah Melayu dengan Singapura bagai....

Poipet is adjacent to the district of Aranyaprathet, Thailand. It is a key crossing point between Thailand and Cambodia. Most popular for cross border.

Panas di Poipet boleh bikin make up cair. 

2:30 p.m. - Immigration Matters in Poipet
Visas are usually required from most tourists (one-month visa that costs USD 20). As Malaysian, I am not required to get a visa to enter into Cambodia. Hence, the immigration matters in Poipet were much more simple for us. And we were also saved from the problem of overcharging visa application at the border. But since it was a peak season, the immigration counters were somehow crowded and busy with tourists. 

Once the immigration matters were completed, we headed for the bus. Free shuttle services are provided from the border to the Poipet Tourist Passenger International Terminal, where bus and taxi services to Siem Reap (USD 9 per person) and any other places are provided.

I discovered from Lonely Planet: Cambodia that posted fares at the Poipet Tourist Passenger International Terminal are higher than the prices locals pay by up to 250%! However, in my humble opinion, I would rather pay higher than the locals, rather than exposing myself to petty scams that may cause me exorbitant sums of money. 

Sukar sebenarnya backpacking dengan bagasi tarik. Aku selalu ketinggalan di belakang. Nak merajuk pun tak sempat takut kena tinggal. 

The fully air-conditioned bus was already filled with other tourists. After the challenging six hours train ride from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet, I found the ride most refreshing. As the bus was heading towards the destination, I looked outside the window, where I can see Cambodian people. Tanned skin. Slanting eyes. My late grandmother used to tell me that our ancestors were from the Champs of Cambodia. Perhaps, one of these people and I shared the same ancestors lineage? I do not know.

A friendly tour guide briefed us about Cambodia. He reminded us not to hand our passport to anyone, even to the police since passports are only required by the immigration. The police has no reason to see your passport, he said. Well, noted.

2:45 p.m. - Leaving Poipet for Siem Reap
We arrived at Poipet Tourist International Passenger Terminal. You can either take a bus or taxi to any destination e.g. Siem Reap (USD 9) or Phnom Penh (USD 15) from this terminal. Since we were so tired, Melissa and John offered to sponsor our transportation to Siem Reap via taxi. Thanks a lot guys! 

3:00 p.m. - Journey to Siem Reap
The taxi was on its way to Siem Reap. The scenery was somehow identical to the paddy fields available in Kedah. Cattles. Buffaloes. Goats. Chickens. Pakcik naik vespa tak pakai helmet. Kakak pakai baju kaftan nak pergi mengumpat dengan jiran sebelah. There was not much to tell. We were extremely exhausted. We dozed off all the way to Siem Reap for two hours.

6:00 p.m. - Arrival in Siem Reap
We woke up in the town of Siem Reap. It is a developing town. Clean. Organised. Melissa had already booked a hotel by the name of Golden Temple Villa. The taxi sent us to the entrance of the hotel. 

We were welcomed by several smiling receptionist, who greeted us in fluent English and Malay language. We were told to place our bags nearby since they have already prepared welcoming drinks for us. Awesome!

Melissa and John's room was at the Ground Floor. While Hazem and I had to dragged our luggage all the way to level 4 using stairs. Dunia ini tidak adil. Tiba. 

The rooms are very nice. And we only paid USD 10 per person per night. Other services include free WIFI in the room, free computer usage at the lobby with internet, tour guide books, IDD call services at a cheap price. I should have brought my ipad. Seriously. 

Oh, we were also given half an hour free khmer massage. Tapi jujurnya aku rasa tukang urut dia main lanyak saja. Tidak menumpukan aspek teknikal seperti di Phuket. Hmm... macam lain pula bunyinya. Jangan fikir lain ok!

We were so damn hungry. Hence, we ordered for food. To ensure that the food does not contained any prohibited substance (since we are Muslims), we asked the waitress to explained the method of cooking. Apparently the waitress was also aware that we are Muslims and convinced us that no liquor or pork involved in their cooking. We ordered seafood instead. And this is my first encounter of the most delicious dish - Amok.

While dining, we discussed on our next destination for that night and the next day. We were informed that the Angkor Night Market were only walking distance from the hotel. Angkor Night Market it was!

8:00 p.m. - Angkor Wat Night Market
The four of us left the hotel early and headed to the Angkor Wat Night Market on foot. It is something similar to downtown Danau Kota or Cheras. Angkor Wat Night Market is an ideal place for you to get fridge magnets, postcards, trousers, shawl. 

We ended the tour within one hour. Most of the items sold at the market were made of silk for example silk bags, table cloths, scarves, fabrics and others. The prices are also reasonable. Well, that depends on your bargaining skills. 

Kalau mak datang sini aku rasa semua kedai di sini tutup sebab tak sanggup dengan tawar menawar mak yang saya kira menindas ekonomi. 

I also saw some dead snakes and scorpions were preserved in a bottle. Fungsinya apa eh? Aku malas nak tanya. Nampak pak panjang dalam botol tu terus aku lari pergi gerai jiran sebelah. 

We went back to the hotel before 10 p.m. and resumed our card game. John began to scored in most rounds, causing Melissa and I to fill in the loser's post. This is not good. I need to increase my performance. 

We did not stay up to play card games that long. Since the next day we are visiting Angkor Wat early in the morning. We dozed off quite early. Hoping for a better day tomorrow. 

Till then, adios. 

Hairi Tahir

to be continued...

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