As you get off the plane, the hot, humid air hits you in the face. At the Siem Reap Internatinoal Airport, this put me into a real holiday mood, at last.
The first amusement was waiting at the immigration, or rather, the visa issuance counter that’s right next to it. You give your passport, the application form which you filled in before landing, and $20.00 to the officer sitting at the counter, quite emotion-less, and the paper is passed on to the officer sitting next to him, then to another, and another, all the way through a dozen officers over to the other end of the 20m-long desk. There comes your passport with a beautiful visa certificate stuck on one of the pages. Fantastic!
Met by a tourist agent outside the airport building. Against the odds, it was a young woman, Sarin, who came to pick us up half-an-hour beofre midnight. Usshered in a van, we’re on road to the hotel in the city. Sarin spoke Japanese reasonably well. She says she’s never visited Japan, and learned Japanese at Yamanaka Gakko. Later, we found a similar school in town – in fact, there are many schools founded with foreign money. Something for thoughts.
She gave us some do’s and dont’s, then tried discreetly to sell us their optional tours. Well, we had to disappoint her, didn’t we.
The hotel is nice enough, a clean, spacious room with a high ceiling, friendly – excessively so at times – receptionists, and it is reasonably quiet considering its location right on the main road. But nicety ends just about here. The fixture is barely functional; TV has a dodgy aerial connection, bedside light switches are broken, a safety box is also broken (and my repeated requests for an engineer to come to fix it were met only with smiling faces of aknowledgement), some power sockets are not even connected, and the mirror-top lighting is short-circuited. Thank God the air conditioning is in perfect order…
It is rather late, and we are tired after the 12-hour journey, plus we want to be in a good mood and condition tomorrow morning. So the best thing to do now is to go to sleep.
Now, here’s a spoiler: the following 4 days were packed with fun and adventure. But the journal ends here. I had a fancy idea of keeping a journal in my little notebook during the entire trip. I only stuck with it for two days… So everything I would like to write about the trip, after this post, will be a reflection just as much as I can remember…