We decided to hire a van and driver to take us to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh so we could distance ourselves from the other tourists doing the same loop as we were. It was more expensive but it probably gave us more time in the capital of Cambodia. Unfortunately (?) there was a festival going on so the sights we wanted to take in were closed.
We made the best of it though – we watched the canoe races with 60 people paddling for a short while. We wandered the outside of the Royal Palace and the Silver pagoda enjoying crossing streets without fear of being struck my a motor bike.
We paid for the release of a few swallows – $1 for two. Cambodia has a currency but US dollars are accepted everywhere and are used for the larger exchanges. You get your change from a dollar purchase with Cambodian money. They have no coins.
We met up with our driver and battled the throngs of vehicles and scooters leaving the city because of the festival. We added an easy hour to our trip as a result of the traffic jam of people. But we were moving slow enough that we could hail vendors over and buy from the window like this boy selling bags of sugar cane.
The drive was about six hours long and it was remarkable. The scooters loaded with people, farmers moving their product, kids riding bikes and vehicles loaded with merchandise and people all passing by the sprawling rice farms with their perimeters of homes on stilts and villages. we made it to Siem Reap after dark and went out for a meal. Seth was starting to feel better from a few days of intestinal troubles. Four of us went out for massages – $8 for a 60 minute full body massage with oil. We kept that up for every night we were in Cambodia.