Hello! I have been more silent here than I expected, but I guess that’s because I’ve been doing things like traveling on boats that are “not considered safe by international standards.” That’s a good thing!
So, I’ll back up a bit to try to describe the last few days. The first thing that feels necessary to describe is the heat. It’s not just hot. It’s sweltering. My fingernails are sweating. My sweat is sweating. I have never been quite to sweaty. I was in Vietnam in July and, still, was not as sweaty as I have been for the last 6 days. Hot doesn’t capture it. The low is supposed to be 79 degrees, but if it has ever been that cool I missed it because I had ducked into a shop to buy a bottle of water. More regularly it feels like what the thermometer says: 99 degrees. Plus the sun, plus the humidity. I’ve never looked better!
I arrived in Siem Reap after a stop in Frankfurt and one in Singapore. Travel tip: The Singapore Tourism board offers a free tour to travelers on a long layover. Makes perfect sense when you think about how many planes travel through the airport. I arrived at 630am and had a 7 hour layover, which was a good amount of time to sign up for the tour leaving at 8am. A nice woman led us through customs and then onto a bus to take us through the city.
Singapore is tiny and home to only about 5.5 million people. Our tour guide gave all sorts of comparisons to the size by telling us how many Singapores could fit inside our home countries. I have no idea what she said about the US, but let’s say it’s 14,000. (This isn’t fact, I made it up. But, it’s a lot.)
We were let off to roam around at Merlion Park, which is famous for the half-lion, half-fish statue that spits water in the water. I was hot and tired. I took a selfie. German guy and I went back to the bus. German guy will be referred to as Samuel moving forward.
I apologize for how little I actually remember about this tour. It was hot and I was dirty. If you find yourself in Changi Airport I do highly recommend it. It allows you to see the city (which is very pretty) and it’s better than drinking too many Singapore Slings at the Boston Themed sports bar in Terminal 3.
When Samuel and I got back to the airport, he bought us coffees and I told him I’d pay for Singapore Slings as long as he agreed to have one. He was willing and then I realized what a bad deal this was. I think the coffees were $6.00. We drank the coffees, he ate a donut and then it was Singapore Sling time.
The bartender made them, we drank them and that was that. Somewhere within the conversation Samuel explained that he is in a Screamo band back home. I was impressed since I’ve never met anyone that actually does that. I didn’t ask him to sing any of their hits, but as I think about it now I regret that.
The bill came and each Singapore Sling was about $20. So, we split it. Then, we parted ways and I went to the last leg of my journey – Silk Air from Singapore to Siem Reap.
The airport here is much smaller than I expected. The visa line was short and everything went perfectly smoothly. Got the visa, got my bag and went outside for my taxi, which I knew would be $7. When the taxi man realized I was alone, he suggested taking a motorbike driver for only $2. I asked for a helmet and the guy said something like, “Oh, yes, of course!” I was shocked since I’d mostly just asked because my mother would want me to. I guess he saw my excitement and quickly clarified that the helmet was only for the driver. At that point I didn’t know the driver (I would come to know him later) and didn’t really care if he had a helmet.
In a move that is not shocking at all, I went anyway.
We got on the bike and the driver, Mith, fit my backpack between his legs and off we went. When we got to the exit of the airport I noticed his helmet was still in his basket. I politely reminded him that it would be safer to put it on, hoping that maybe he would say he didn’t want it and give it to me. He told me he’d wear it, but waited until we were almost safely in Siem Reap to put it on. Still counts I suppose.
We arrived at the Angkor Orchid in one piece!
NOTE: This has been an uninspired and fairly factual account of my arrive in Siem Reap. I realize that and I apologize. I’m trying to describe what’s been happening but I’ve done a boring job of keeping up. Sorry about that, friends.