On the way back from day 2 of wat seeing, we actually had to ask him to take us to some shopping (that was a first for us – actually asking to be taken to shop!), to see a factory where they were making stone and wood carvings. He told us he thought it was too expensive! He was right, they were a little too expensive (and delicate looking) for us.All in all, it was a fantastic experience in Siem Reap. The authorities are managing the attraction very well. It was well taken care of. Even the postcard sellers and book sellers were kept in check – at every wat, they’d be there and desperately trying to make a sale, but there was a line on the sand that they weren’t allowed to cross. Guards made sure everyone respected the “tourist line”. They had a great sense of humor about the whole thing. When we wanted to buy a book, the seller told us “You have to come to my side of the line, or my enemies will get me!” 🙂 The drink sellers threaten to cry if you don’t buy from them, and everyone reminds you that your driver is hot! The Cambodians have a real sense of humour about the tourists, and also a lot of respect. Even though it was obvious to us they were very, very poor, they were still friendly, even when there was no need for them to be. While many people tried to sell us things, there was no one begging. Our flight back to Vietnam proved a little more exciting than we’d hoped. We were waiting in the airport departures lounge, when I saw through the window the Vietnam Airlines plane arrive, that was to take us back to Saigon. Suddenly, emergency vehicles screamed up the runway after it, and all the airport personnel ran outside, panicked. After some time they came back in “The plane’s ok. The plane’s ok” … What about the people??? Turns out the pilot had overshot the runway by 60m and got the Airbus stuck in the mud. No one was hurt. They blamed it on weather, but it was only raining lightly.
It took them a couple of hours to sort the mess out. They put us up in a 5 star hotel for the night, and planned to bus us to Phnom Penh the next day, from where we’d fly to Saigon. (We had to change hotels. The first 5 star hotel had a dead cockroach right in the middle of the room. Funny, we didn’t have any roaches in our budget hotel!!)
Anyways, it was an interesting sightseeing trip to Phnomh Penh, on surpringly good roads. The short hop back to Saigon was a pretty scary one for us, after we’d seen the quality of the Vietnam Airlines pilots in Siem Reap.