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Siem Reap – Visa

Christmas day and I’m feeling good from the Christmas lunch celebration. In the evening I catch a flight to Siem Reap. Looking for a pen to fill out the immigration form, I started up a short chat with my neighbor, US foreign affairs employee in Myanmar. We exchanged travel stories and our thoughts about Thailand. Krabi Good, Phuket, Bad. Tourist sites, local sites. Stuff Like that.

The plane lands and I do the Asian Hustle. Meaning, I jump into the aisle and scramble to the front.  No standing and waiting for anyone to get their bag from the overhead compartment. Normally I would be courteous, but really, this is the norm. Don’t expect anyone to give you space while you get your stuff.

In the immigration line. Passport- check. Photo- check. Money… uh where’s all my money? PANIC.

I really shouldn’t be allowed to travel anywhere. Between checking in and getting into this immigration line, I lose all my $20 bills. I mentally start retracing my steps… hmmm.

I think it must have been when I was pulling my passport out for all the different checks between the check in gate, the immigration line, the ticket boarding process, the visa application forms on the plane… the possibilities are endless.

I’m really starting to panic now. How am I going to get into this darn country? Why am I always like this? AHHHHHH.

By chance, my middle seat neighbor comes along -“what’s wrong?”.

I lost all my money. My face is flushed between sweat and redness. He pulls out a $50 bill and hands it to me.

“Here’s some money. You can pay me back later.” WHAT. How are people so nice and trusting? If there’s anything that I’ve learned from travelling, its that there are more nice people in the world than scam artists. Let yourself trust people. This guy doesn’t know if I’m a serial killer or a drug smuggler, yet he had the trust to give me money without knowing if I would ever see him again.

Saved by $50, I pay for my visa and then wait in another queue.

Here’s my email address, my google voice number, my thai phone number, and whatever other promises I can think of so that he can believe that I will return the money.

Cleared from the airport, I find my name on a hotel sign and a nice man waiting to take me to my hotel. The middle seat guy meets his friends and we part ways.

Tourist Itinerary Angkor Wat and more

The next morning- Nina’s friend, Andy arrives from Singapore. He’s in full blown cold mode. Determined to “power through” it, we go to a pharmacy and get some drugs to hide his misery. The first day itinerary in Cambodia is this:

  1. Angkor National Museum
  2. Old City Market
  3. Lunch somewhere tripadvisor recommends
  4. Walk around some more
  5. Relax at hotel – swimming
  6. Getting our Angkor Wat tickets
  7. Sunset tour at a Temple
  8. Night Market
  9. Dinner at Khmer Kitchen
  10. Tuk tuk back to the hotel

Andy “Powering Through” it – Tuk Tuk Ride

I have to give Andy credit. For his American vacation, he squeezed 5 cities into 2 weeks. I forget that Americans only get a few weeks for vacation, so they have to pack everything into a short period. I hate that abour corporate America. Why can’t we relax more? Even our holidays are stressful.

Next day, 430am: Pitch black and quiet. Our hotel gives us our breakfast goody bags and off we go.

I use my powerbank’s flashlight so we don’t eat shit on the stone walkway to the temple. By 530am, all of us tourists are huddled around the reflection ponds. I huddle in my Asian squat and curse the world as bugs continue to bite my legs.

Snap. Snap. Snap. I take about 100 photos. One of them has to be ok.


Sun is up – Let the temple extravaganza begin. Most people do the “small tour” which includes the top four temples. Not being shy from a challenge- I arrange a big and small tour that hits up 10 temples. Essentially all of the temples close to Angkor Wat.  To say that there are some Chinese tourists is an understatement. There are about 20 tour buses sitting in the parking lots across from the temples. People posing in front of all the faces. The Hot sun beating down on us. The mixture of sweat and dust creating an icky sticky mess.

11 hours later, we did it. All the damn temples.

Back at the hotel, I run, jump and plunge into the pool. Ahhhh. The soot of the dirty temple dust washes off. Andy passes out sitting upright in the hotel lobby.


Siem Reap. Out.


Note- I was able to see my $50 guardian angel in the airport on my way out and return the money. Cheers to friendly strangers.