Finally. Siem Reap, Cambodia - my destination goal. All else has been the adventure getting here.
I had a flight booked from Phnom Penh but after a discussion with my Tuk-tuk driver I decided to cancel my flight and travel by boat. My Tuk-tuk driver said 3 to four hours. When I prebooked my ticket a couple days ahead I was given a choice of seats - i chose window seat 2.
February 11th I arrived and paid the remainder indicating I have seat 2. I'm told very few people are on the boat and I could have three seats if I wanted, so no seats are being assigned. I was then told it takes 6 hours and I could prebook a Tuk-tuk to meet me in Siem Reap. The couple from Winnipeg I had met at the hotel also decided to take my suggestion and are on the same boat.
The boat is half the size of what was shown to me on the seating plan. On the main deck there are 9 padded chairs, bench seating for 12 more, and a flat open area (metal - it's 34°). The lower deck has plush seating for about 40 people, but it smells and the windows are covered in grime so you can't see out.
So bench seating it is. The backpackers took over the metal open area with their petal bikes and large bags. I'm guessing we started with about 35 people. At least one other person was sold the same seat as I was.
The view while traveling down the river made up for everything. Kathleen from Winnipeg said - she would pay double if their was a guide to explain what we were seeing. I agree. The floating villages were very interesting and we stopped alone the way and picked up three families- another 12 people.
After 4 hours we were told we had to transfer to a smaller boat as the lake was to low for our speedboat. The smaller, slower, dirtier boat couldn't accommodate all of us easily. The children had to sit on their parents laps and a few backpackers sat on the top of the boat with their bikes.
FOUR more hours. Tonle lake is so large we often couldn't see land. A very long trip. Finally arrived at Siem Reap. No Tuk-tuk drivers. It doesn't appear anyone who purchased a Tuk-tuk at the boat launch got one. Eventually I made it to my hotel.
The hotel is wonderful. Heavy wood pillars, stair railing, Marble floors. I'm on the third floor with a balcony. Angkor Orchid central hotel. I will be here until the 19th.
A quick trip to the town square showed me Siem Reap is all I expected it to be. I had a bowl of the local sour soup made with Tamerinds and morning glory and finished up with some local fried ice cream made from a street vendor.
My first night here and I saw some of the unique experiences Siem Reap has to offer; deep fried food, fish pedicures etc.