We decided to travel to Phnom Penh by bus from Ho Chi Minh because it was dirty cheap, the bus pick up point was just the corner from our place and the travel time wasn’t that bad. At least that’s what we thought when we bought tickets. The bus wasn’t at all what we expected though. It was a bus all right. But baggage dock was glued all over with brown packing tape! I couldn’t believe my eyes! All suitcases were going to the rear of the bus with a huge pile of other boxes and sacs that were already there. At least sits were quite comfortable. We did have few stops for a toilet, cigarette and a meal on our way but with each stop, those places looked worse and worse. The border crossing was a bit messy too. Basically, all were asked to leave the bus and go to a building in front of us. All baggage was supposed to stay on the bus and we were asked to give the driver our passports and money for the visa. I wasn’t sure what to think about it but what else could we do? There was no queues or anything in the building we were pointed to go to. We literally just went through it without anyone bothering us, checking anything. Very weird experience. Then we boarded our bus again and drove away. We noticed that the guy that collected our passports was not on the bus and I started to look around uneasy. A few minutes later though we stopped again for a coffee break and the guy with our passports came in and started giving passports to all passengers.
First thing in Cambodia that we noticed were very, I mean very bad roads and brand new buildings being built all over the place. We also saw some children drinking water directly from a water puddle on the road and even some naked man walking on the street. Very weird experience for us.
The moment we left the bus we were swarmed with taxi/tuk-tuk drivers and sim sellers. Everyone wanted to “help” us. We decided to take a sim card and tuk-tuk there knowing that most likely we overpay greatly for that. After 6 hours on the bus, we didn’t care that much though. We just wanted to get to our Airbnb and get some rest.
Our Airbnb host was waiting for us on the street. She welcomed us with a big smile and surprisingly good English. The apartment was on the second floor and no lift in the building so my poor man had to carry our 20kg bag up the very narrow stairs. Those stairs looked a bit post-apocalyptic: Very dark walls, as if it was burnt, on each floor some kind of grill or a campfire.
The apartment though looked really nice. There was a huge living room with a sofa and coffee table, kitchenette with everything we could need for home cooking and a huge clay pot that worked as a water filter. Very handy to have one like this.
There was also a huge balcony with a table and grill where we spent a lot of time. We were visited there by a neighbours cat and it was a very welcome guest. We miss our cats so any friendly cat on our travels is very welcome.
Our main issue with this Airbnb was a bedroom. There was nothing wrong with the bedroom, don’t get me wrong. The problem was in our heads mostly. First of all, the bedroom wall is next to the staircase so we could hear all the weird sounds from outside. There was no window in there, so no matter what time it was always dark. Not great for someone who goes to bed late at night and gets up around midday. When you wake up and it’s still dark you start to think maybe it’s still middle of the night, should I go back to sleep? Or maybe, and what’s worse, we overslept?! Not fun at all anyway.
To add something more to our experience we decided to watch a documentary on Netflix about Cambodia… and our heads started messing up with our experience. If you ever come to Cambodia don’t watch that documentary!!! Or maybe don’t watch it at all. That didn’t help with our trip at all. Every unknown sound was even more weird and scary after that.
As a big plus to our trip though we have to mention a Polish restaurant that served homemade pierogi! The best pierogi we’ve had for a very long time. It was the biggest highlight for us of this very short and weird trip. Our Airbnb was very close to a local market but we weren’t able to buy anything there. It was a completely different experience than anywhere else in Asia. Normally all shop keepers try to sell us something even if we just pass by and accidentally looked at them. Not here. Nobody ever bothered us. We tried to buy food on a few stalls but sellers seemed to ignore us completely or didn’t understand what we want. Even showing a product with fingers didn’t help much, they laughed at us and looked away. No idea why. We’ve never seen anything like that on all our travels.
We stayed in Phnom Penh only a week. We were going to stay there longer but we simply couldn’t fight that weird feeling in our heads. Maybe in some time we give Cambodia another go and try to go somewhere else, the nicer place maybe to change our view about the country.