Cambodia instead of Thailand? Exploration for future wintering

After my post about alternatives to Thailand, where I have collected rough diagrams of how you can travel to different countries for a rather long period of time for wintering (or just to change the environment), one of our reader friends, a doctor-programmer, wanted to share his recent experience of a trip to Cambodia. Eugene went there a couple of months ago for exploration.

Trip to Cambodia. Exploration for the upcoming (possibly) wintering. The situation with visas to Thailand has changed, many are looking for alternatives, I am no exception, the comparison of Cambodia will be with Thailand, more specifically with Koh Samui.
Travel time - June 2014.

Well, let's go ... More precisely, we flew, my daughter is in the camp for 2 weeks, one is bored for training, let me think I'll reconnoiter Cambodia (this is all against the background of a change in visa policy in Tae). I managed to buy good tickets, a regular Aeroflot flight - to Bangkok and back, the price for everything is a little more than 20,000 rubles. Regular flight, this is not a charter for you (completely full), there are a lot of foreigners, a lot of free seats, there were no passengers next to me, a freebie, in a word. I flew to Bangkok, sat in some dull guesthouse for several hours and at the airport to Siem Reap. Still at home I took tickets from AirAsia Bangkok-Siem Reap, for the promotion it cost 1600 rubles one way (a taxi to Sheremetyevo airport is more expensive :)).

The content of the article

In Siem Reap

Except Tai from Asia, I was nowhere, I fussed a little on the plane, as it is there with visa (although I carefully read about the process of obtaining and the necessary actions on the forums). It turned out that everything is easier and faster even to put a stamp in Tae, I filled out a couple of cards (arrival, departure and type of application «give a visa») - almost the same, as in Tae, attached a photograph taken from the house. Upon arrival in Siem Reap - the airport is small, in principle there is nowhere to get lost, stood in the only queue, asking for visas if she ... Then you give what you filled in, a photo and 20 bucks. And you stand at the other end of the line, where they shout out the names (and sometimes just names) of those people who have received a visa. Further to the border guard - get a couple of stamps and that's it ... no adventures. The border guard only alerted me, no, he didn’t try to cheat me or something like that, he just pointed a finger over the sign and muttered something smiling, then I didn’t understand (I’ll understand when I left) what he wanted at all. I showed him at the counter with officials issuing visas, explained as best he could, saying that he paid there if anything, that's it. «OK» and went on to myself.

Then I bought a local SIM card, a SMART provider - right at the airport in a cell shop, the seller set up an Internet for me, the cost of a SIM card is 10 bucks, with this provider calls to Russia, a little more than from Russia itself (just kidding, of course, but close to that), you can dial without perverting with ip-telephony, just + 7and_number_number.

I leave the airport, it's ten o'clock in the morning, it's dark in Asia ... Immediately they meet one of the most frequent phrases in Cambodia - «TUK-TUK SIR» (as one person joked on the forum - after another such cry, Pol Pot began his reforms :)). All the insidiously conspiring tuk-tukers offer to take them to the city for a terrible price of 5 bucks, and if you agree, complete satisfaction arises in their eyes, the expression on the face of the Moscow bombila, who ripped you off the triple price to the metro, is guessed. Well, I think to walk like that ...

I didn’t book any guest houses in advance, there’s really nowhere to spend the night in Asia, and if there’s nowhere for me such Asia :). Opened an application on the phone, roofing felts «booking», roofing felts «agoda», I looked at the map - showed it to the tuker - I say, let's try in the opposite direction from the city, there is a pond and probably beautiful ... Beautiful or not, I did not understand, there were no lampposts in the opposite side of the city, the darkness was pitch, the hostesses in the guesthouse by the pond went out at night shirts (really - the eleventh hour, and you're hanging around here).

Let's go to the city limits, the situation is the same - «everyone is asleep», but worse than that, I started to want to sleep too. This is fraught with a lack of strength for detailed searches and bidding, therefore, I collapsed somewhere to sleep for 20 bucks a day, a room, an air conditioner, a shower - well, everything is as usual, even breakfast is included (I really slept through it).

In the morning, briskly rented another guest, for 15 bucks a day, in the city itself, but the room is much better than in the first one, there was even a pool (swam). The order of prices for guesthouses in Siem Reap, I think, is clear from 5 bucks (apparently with a fan :)), after 10 - rooms with air conditioners start, everything is clean, normal.




Further, the goals were as follows: to see how much it costs to rent a house (payment per month, communal apartments, etc.), conditions for working on an Internet (in fact, read - the quality and cost of an Internet), what about food - shops + eateries, well, not an unimportant point - where we will do boxing and physical training with our daughter. Egyptian pyramids, Angkor, temples, attractions and everything like that is not interested at all, I would not go even if I paid extra. Although all taxi drivers-guides strive to take you to Angkor (and raise their eyebrows for a long time when they hear that it is NOT INTERESTING).

I got acquainted with the tuker, he introduced himself to me as Mr. Cobra (well, well) - he took me to eat, at the same time and see how much, in short, he ate himself, fed the tuker, didn’t eat a huge omelet with vegetables, gave 10 bucks for everything (okay, I think you can live ). In other feeding establishments, the prices are plus or minus one and a half times, in general, and for $ 3 you can easily eat up, I usually take fried rice with chicken, plus that thread of fruit and vegetable and drink. Maybe all the cheapness was aggravated by the month of June (low season). Eat - you can look at home too.




Houses are not quite easy, as in Thailand Koh Samui, there are no massive signs «House for rent», you need to find out, search, in a word, spend much more energy than in Tae (maybe it seemed so only to me). For reconnaissance and taxi drivers will go, Cobra took to the first house found, two bedrooms, a disproportionately huge kitchen (the size of the rest of the house, hmm ...), well, in general, as usual, without any bargaining they announced the price of 500 bucks a month.





The next two options turned out to be huge villas, with a huge amount of heavy mahogany furniture, 3 floors, more than 10 rooms. That he took me there, I did not understand, I called the price range, but for this fortress they asked 1600 bucks a month, well, where is it to us :), with 10 rooms? The rest of the options that I looked are basically similar.



The taxi driver insisted very much - «they say you will arrive in September, let me know a month in advance, I’ll pick this up here ... I just didn’t know that you would come and didn’t have time to prepare», okay, we exchanged phone numbers. In principle, as a further trip to Sihanoukville will show, the situation is the same with houses - less «middle class» - either expensive villas (not for rogue :)), or very bad. No, there are also middle options, I will just repeat once again - it is more difficult to find them than in Tae.

I really liked the prices for transport services :), I have not seen so cheap yet. I go up to another tuker - I say «they say I want to ride, just like that (I don't need to go to Angkor), I want to see the area, how and what ...» - in response he asks, so how long do you want to ride, when he heard that it was about 3 hours, he names the price of 10 bucks. 10 bucks for 3 hours to ride !!! - well, it's great, because in Russia for that kind of money they won't even send them where necessary (they will ask to add :)). According to the results of pokatuski - in Siem Reap it seemed to me dirty, there are just heaps of garbage on the streets, evenly distributed along the sidewalks. By the way, there are sidewalks, they are better than on Koh Samui, if anyone is interested. The climate is, how to say, more «steppe» some, «greens» less.
During the walk I found a large gym, everything is there, there are no people except the administrator, it costs 1 dollar per workout !!! Damn, stay at least.

There are no such supermarkets as on Koh Samui, shops are much smaller, prices and assortment, in principle, as in Thai 7-11, but here who needs what, for me so what to do.

The season was apparently really low, by the evening a bunch of streets with massage pleasures look just empty. The picture is funny enough, empty street, I come to the third from the beginning «massage parlor», each one has 15-20 armchairs for massage of feet and other parts, full staff (well, 6-10 people in each), and on the street (I'm not lying) I'm alone. You even feel somehow awkward ... I come up with a laugh - I say, «that the season is very low?», They answer that they say yes, absolutely, well, they offer a foot massage - 1 hour 1 dollar !!!, they do it, of course, handicraft, but for 1 dollar, in general, a free massage in the teeth ... A general massage, lasting an hour and a half, will cost as much bucks. This is all without sex, of course. Immediately after leaving the massage, in the fifth on the same street «salon», they offer ISCHO, I say - it's good, they say, then (the girl does not calm down) maybe you HAPPY MASSAGE, no I say, medical insurance will not cover this :).

Bus ride to Sihanoukville (horror)

I bought a ticket while walking around Siem Reap, the tuker brought it to some ticket office, in his words «the best». Give, I say, a ticket to Sihanoukville, well, what would a VIP and all that, well they say, give 20 bucks and go on a sleeping night bus.

From the guest house I was picked up, included in these 20 bucks, by a transfer tuk-tuk and taken to the bus station. There, too, quickly, give me a ticket - get on the bus. There is a surprise in the bus, I think the majority is our Russian reserved seat berth in the carriage, its dimensions in particular, so a sleeping bus implies the absence of seats, but only the presence of such shelves in 2 tiers, each shelf is as wide as one and a half of our reserved seats (not two exactly ). Well, I think, okay, I’ll go over it anyway.

Leads to the shelf with the number as in the ticket - says here they say your place, climb (2nd tier). I raise my eyes, there is a blonde, about 25 years old. I say - it's kind of busy, where you put me ... They politely make it clear that they say this one and a half reserved seat shelf for two !!! Well, yes, it's very convenient ... Having apologized to the girl (the German woman turned out to be) that they say nothing personal, I climb on the shelf, my place is closer to the aisle. Of course, for two people on this shelf it is impossible in any way, in the length of the legs it is not completely stretched out (even with my short stature), in general I am silent in width. I can't fall asleep either, how can you sleep with an unfamiliar girl, but you never know what to dream about, plus a snuffed German woman who periodically pushed me in her sleep, squeezing me into the passage ...


The bus has 4-5 stops all the way for «go to the toilet». At a stop in Phnom Penh (they have such a capital), a German woman comes out - a pancake has arrived, it's already dawn, I was delighted, they say, I'll go further alone, sit on a shelf, master the space, yeah SHCHAS. At the bus stop, another one comes in, already from England, the same about 25 years old, in appearance a typical downshifter, well, it's all in baubles, a specific outfit, etc. It's really better with her :), talked, talked, slept quietly - did not push. Somewhere to study, travels all the time and all the time, as I understand it, for a penny (what to take from a downshifter :)). The full travel time of the bus is around 12 hours, if interested.

During a sleepless night, I thought of a way to go back. I thought to buy 2 tickets and occupy the entire shelf and a half, but my wife, who was at home, quickly dug up information on the forums that this is most likely useless - you will buy 2 tickets, but not the fact that on the same shelf (in general, someone else of course he will thank you very much :)). Well, after a trip with two females by her side, my wife strictly recommended buying a plane ticket from Sihanoukville to Siem Reap. Everything, the bus is over - I do not advise anyone, unless there is a goal with different «hippie german» meet.

In Sihanoukville

A cunning Englishwoman suggested a guest, according to her downshifting concepts, very good. I go in - the price is 6 bucks per night, the Englishwoman nods approvingly and stays, I ask you to provide the same, but with kondeem - «OK» say, then 10 bucks. Agreed, the number is normal, for a couple of days what to do. He actually made sorties from it with the same goals as in Siem Reap..

In Sihanoukville, in my opinion, it turned out to be much cleaner, no garbage (at least in that amount) was found, the climate - it feels softer - the sea makes itself felt, well, «greens» a huge amount - in fact, does not differ from Koh Samui, which is just on the other side of the bay.

I won't tell you about the beaches in detail, I'm not particularly interested, can't we find where to swim on the ocean shore :), there are a lot of reviews and holivars on the beaches, but I think there won't be any problems with that.

The feeding houses are the same as in Siem Reap (and, probably, throughout Cambodia), even in the famous «Snake house» not as expensive as I thought.

Super stores, a la «Tesco» or «Big c» still not, there are four main supermarkets, but the size of the largest is like several 7-11 combined, well, there is no such assortment, of course, well, here «who is bad without anything». The exploration of the stores was carried out exclusively on the orders of his wife - to understand what the possibilities for cooking at home, etc. Prices are approximately the same as in Samui «Tesco». They say in Phnom Penh this is much better, but I have not been there ...

Found and visited four main sports points, prices are also reasonable, there is 1 buck of training, there is 10 bucks - «super local elite club», but even in it, if you take a subscription for a month - then 50 bucks for unlimited visits with a sauna and a swimming pool - well, one figs of a penny. Also, which is not unimportant for me, besides boxing and a hall with glands, there were 2 points where they play table tennis, and in a special room, the wind does not interfere, the tables are new, there are a lot of partners, the price ... well, as usual, 1 hour - 1 dollar. Went, played, but local, constantly practicing Khmer, «carried out» as a child :(, moreover, they managed to pay for me :), therefore it turned out 0 bucks per hour.



About houses. Since I liked Sihanoukville as a whole more than Siem Reap, I looked at more options. At first, as usual with a tuker, I arrived in a certain cottage village, with a hundred houses - from what they offered - I liked the 3-storey house, on each floor there is a bedroom, a bathroom - the price is 500 bucks a month. Also houses for more modest 350-400 bucks, with two bedrooms. The manager seemed strange, what kind of manager is he if there is not a word in English? Later it turned out (a compatriot told) that this was the head of the security 🙂 - therefore, he could call the prices too high, you yourself have to live :), well, I'm not in a complaint - it was important for me «scout».

The next day, having phoned a Russian-speaking agent named Ekaterina (she is recommended on several forums in Cambodia), I made a trip with her. Here, of course, it was much more interesting, Catherine is the assistant to the head of the Russian diaspora, she has a lot of information, went for a ride, looked at more options - in general, for $ 350 a month - it is quite possible to rent a house with two bedrooms. But, they rent everywhere, as a rule, for a period of about six months, they take a deposit in 2 months, of course, if everything «OK» return. Utility bills - again, in general, as in Tae.

I really liked the house within walking distance from the sea, but the American woman living there (granny) did not know exactly when she was going to go home, the house was excellent, she was already drooling, 350 tanks a month, the American herself said that she paid 300, but it was at its entrance, almost a year ago and for the period «in almost a year» accordingly - it turns out like without deception ... hmm great.





Internet - from 3G used only the SMART operator - both in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, the speed is in the region of 2-3 megabits per jump, but here it is worth making a reservation about stability, sagging and other unfavorable factors - there is much more of this here, 3G (according to at least for this operator), often slows down, falls off, etc. For all the measurements made and purely the feeling of trying to do normal work - well, 3 times worse than on Koh Samui. But maybe here you need to test several providers, in the same Tae, 3G began to suit only after the transition to DTAC. Prices for mobile internet are again comparable to Thai ones, at some tariffs it is cheaper, at some a little more expensive. WiFi in guest houses - well, so-so (well, as elsewhere in general :)), but multi-threaded download allows you to squeeze up to 1.5 megabytes per second when downloading from any file hosting or torrenting. According to Ekaterina, it is not a problem to have a dedicated line to a rented house, it can cost about 50 bucks a month (a big plus or minus depending on the need for speed and traffic) - stability and speed speaks much better - in the same room, children watch online film, on the other hand, the husband is downloading something, in the third she communicates on Skype with the video - and everything is fine.

Ride back

Having received a strict instruction from my wife to fly by plane, I bought a ticket from Sihanoukville to Siem Reap, the price is 80 bucks, only one company flies, flights from Sihanoukville are only local, you want to Phnom Penh, you want to Siem Reap.

I decided to save money on a taxi to the airport, bargained, did not take into account that it was located much farther from the city than in Siem Reap and wondered for a long time why they did not want to take it for 5 bucks, but asked for as much as 9 :), but it’s already interesting how much taxi drivers can drop in price. But I did find one, let's say for 5, but on a motorbike (that's why I agreed). For $ 5, he decided to cut the road as soon as possible (and even as impossible), drove through some slums, mud all around, huge bumps, the bike jumps like a goat, I'm behind without a helmet - HORROR, in some area I got down and walked 200 meters behind him on foot (life is more expensive), then hysterical laughter began - I think the slightest drift - I'm on the ground, while in the hospital, while the insurance, the tickets bought in advance will disappear, behind my back is a backpack with a poppy worth more than 100 thousand rubles , well damn saved 4 bucks (fool :)).

After the slums, there was a continuation, with the exit to the expressway - the dashing tuker cut more than 100 km per hour and the second part of the trip began :). Upon arrival at the airport, my hands ached with tension, my heart was pounding - in short, it’s not a very good state 🙂 (this is soft).

At the airport, I found myself in a situation that few people were in - I was the only passenger at that time, the airport is absolutely empty (none of the passengers at all), only me and the staff at the counters, check-in speaks in half an hour. I waited, the people pulled up, the turboprop plane, small, filled one third with passengers - and that's it, back - Siem Reap, Bangkok, Russia.

UPDATE1. About security

About the Khmer Rouge - well, it seems you can forget ... although yes, someone says that in the north in the jungle they saw one, two, etc. etc. - of course, they do not plan a coup and it is not necessary to be afraid of them, in my opinion it is not worth it at all, just as no one is afraid of the former employees of the NKVD, all this is scary only with the appropriate political system, and he is no longer «Red» :).

Probably the problem of theft is more urgent, in Thai Koh Samui I could often leave a bike near the store with the keys, as I was told, rental bikes will not steal, in principle, where to put them from the island. In Cambodia, in general, they tell differently, they hijack, it is strong, the whites are even stronger :), anti-theft chains and other devices are often discussed on the forums. House theft, as I understand it, is also more widespread, very often rented houses are surrounded by a fence, often with barbed wire - which in itself seems to say - «protection is done for some reason ...», on the same Samui - houses behind a fence, and even with a thorn, «improbability» 🙂

I walked the streets at night both in Sihanoukville and Siem Reap - I was in both crowded and almost deserted places - it seemed without problems (in Russia I would be more afraid :)).

Video sketches