People crossing borders which greeted us on our way to the immigration in Poipet.
Cambodians on their way to cross the border in front of the Klongluk Boundary Office.
Basically, processing of visa is rather easy especially for foreign visitors from the ASEAN regions like us. For other foreign visitors (Europe North and South America, etc.), they need to shell out USD20 for their visas. Some are being asked to pay more, USD40 and some officials at the local immigration asked for some certificate or something. This is not legitimate of course, but we heard Australian couples being victimized by this kind of scheme.
One of the major casinos in Poipet that will welcome visitors upon arriving at the border.After passing through the immigration, I immediately spotted two huge casinos: Golden Crown Casino and Poipet Casino Resort. Poipet is considered the gambling capital of SE Asia. The book, “Invisible Borders: Reportage from Our Mekong” refers to this place, the “Las Vegas in Cambodia”. Dinah, our guide, informed us that Thais have to pay visa to enter Cambodia. But those who go to casinos need not pay. This puzzled me.
Later, I learned that gambling is prohibited in Thailand. But many Thais cross to Poipet to gamble plummeting hundred thousands of baht into the Cambodian economy. The flourishing of casinos in Poipet killed some small industries in Cambodia like the fabric industry. The border was closed in 2003 but was re-opened, making Poipet's economy fastidiously driven by gamblers' thirst for good fortune.
We got ourselves busy by talking to the driver, trying out some of the basic Khmer phrases we know. I immediately noticed the long nails. Aha.
After getting our documents stamped, we boarded to a Camry taxi that would bring us to our hotel in Siem Reap. As a whole, the drive from Poipet to Siem Reap is the most exhausting. I should say, the trail is rough and challenging.
The muddy road to Siem Reap. Motorcycles or moto is a very common mode of transportation in Cambodia (along with the tuk-tuk).
Residential houses and business establishments along the road.
The road condition is poor, both muddy and dusty. And even though we rode in an air-conditioned vehicle, I felt like I was driving over hundreds of grooves and potholes. One option is to sleep for the whole duration of the travel, which Oki did. Lucky for her. :-)
They have sari-sari stores too. The driver had to make a stopover at this station to clean all the stacks of mud accumulated by the car.
Finally, we arrived at the villa.
After less than five hours, we finally got to Siem Reap. From afar, I've already spotted the signage of the Golden Temple Villa wherein we booked our four-day stay. Of course, I have to thank Ferdz for discovering this place. Free tea/coffee, free banana, free Internet, staff are laidback but friendly and accommodating. We played pool while waiting for our food at an adjoining resto. The food is great. Best of all, they are just adjacent to the Artisans Angkor and a few walks away from the market, Psar Chaa. Very conducive, if I may say so.