Now I am at the agency finding out that I did in fact miss the bus to Cambodia, which only runs once a day. So I borrow the guys cell phone and call my travel agency in Chiang Mai and raise a little hell. She tries to tell me that it was not her fault that the bus was late, which I completely agree, but then I remind her of how she sold me the travel package and made all those promises and she crumbles. First she offers to book me on the next days bus, which I decline because A - On her advice, I already had the night booked at a hotel in Cambodia which I was likely going to lose since they had a 3 day cancellation policy, plus I was going to need to pay an extra night in Bangkok and they weren't offering to cover any if it, and B- I just flat didn't trust her or this other agency that I was now sitting at for over an hour. So, in the end I accepted 1000Bt refund on the 1800Bt I paid for the trip from Chiang Mai to Siem Reap. I still think I overpaid, but it wasn't worth spending even 10 more minutes arguing about. Instead I found a hostel on Rambuttri Street with AC (I decided to treat myself) for 420Bt, booked a bus to Siem Reap for the next morning for only 350Bt, and was able to call my hotel in Siem Reap and push my booking a day with no penalty. All was on track again and I paid less then the 1000Bt I was refunded...damn, they were really taking me for a ride.
If there is anything I have learned from this trip it is to DO NOT USE TRAVEL AGENCIES! 9 times out of 10 they are scamming you and you will highly overpay. Up to this point I had had trouble with just about every travel booking I made while in SE Asia. After this instance I started planning my own travel using www.seat61.com (the travel advice I've gotten from this site has been dead on every time) and actually going to train or bus stations to purchase my tickets, and things have gone much more smoothly. Much more! Not to mention its been more fun and a more exciting and rewarding experience.
Back to Cambodia though, the boarder crossing was interesting to say the least. The mini bus took me and a group of about 12 to the boarder of Thailand and Cambodia, but just as I read on seat61, it was not actually the boarder, it was actually a travel agency where they over-charge you for the Visa process (1200Bt ($41) if you pay in Baht, $35 if you pay in USD, or $20 if you skip the agency and wait in line at the actual govt run boarder). So on the advice of seat61 I request they drop me off at the boarder, which he does with the warning that I have only 2 hours to get through the visa process because if he doesn't find me waiting when he comes through with the rest of the group I will get left behind and will have to find and pay for my own transport from the boarder to Siem Reap (about a 2-3 hr drive). Uh...ok...grumpy. He dropped me without another word in Poipet, the boarder town which was teeming and literally buzzing with activity. There were absolutely no signs telling you where to go so I just followed the other backpacks. They charged me $20 and 100Bt for the visa, which I found strange but was not going to fight for $3. At customs they actually took fingertip scans, which I thought interesting for a "3rd world" country. To make what is already a long story short, I made it through visa and customs and walked myself over the boarder in plenty of time to catch the bus to Siem Reap.
I made it!