Left one for you sir

Siem Reap Travel Blog

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Siem Reap attracts tourists young and old from the far reaches of the globe to marvel over the the endless supply of forgotten ancient temples including the world's largest religious building ever constructed, Angkor Wat.  The competition is fierce, sometimes even primal, for the influx of international money.  The bus terminal was like a riot.  The bus driver gave all the foreigners a few minute pep talk on how to deal with the onslaught that we were about to face.  The tuk-tuk drivers aggressively jockeyed for position to ensure that the tourists would hear their shouts and see their guest house signs first.  It felt like being in a south american football stadium with a fight breaking out as we were jammed and grabbed while trying to retrieve our bags.
  The drivers all offer free rides to the guest house of your choice. We soon realized that they do this in hopes of landing a multi day deal to drive you around to the temples.  There is always angle.

The postcard pictures would lead you to believe that you may feel a bit like Indiana Jones exploring the massive buildings from a lost time.  The reality is that you feel more like cattle being in a heard of Chinese tourists with matching florescent yellow hats or orange vests.  I found it difficult to get any shots of entire temples without any yellow hats. 

Each temple is amazing in its own right but I found the most impressive part to be the grandeur of the entire area and the total number of temples.
  Most people, myself included, spend a few days exploring with the aid of a tuk-tuk and still only see a fraction of the temples.  It does become quite repetitive after a a while.  The building layouts and detailed carvings are very similar throughout.  My favorite temples were the ones that were not rebuilt by the French and were left in shambles engulfed with massive sprawling trees.

I met my friend Brenden from home as planned.  I have been traveling for about seven months now and have grown used to traveling with people on small budgets.  I have been eating most of my meals from street vendors for a dollar, I walk away from a deal over a quarter, I bargain for crackers in corner stores.  So when Brenden showed up my traveling world got turned upside down overnight.
  My daily spending has doubled or tripled since his arrival.  We have been going to fancier restaurants, boozing more regularly, and even going for the odd massage (not that kind you pervert).  The money is not a big deal because everything is still cheap but it has been quite an adjustment for me.

Cambodia has been slow to recover in the wake of devastation from the Khmer Rouge in the 1970's.  A high percentage of locals have abandoned normal jobs and have focused tourism in one way or another.  Men drive tuk-tuks and the work the front desk of the guest houses.  Older women work the restaurants, and sell fruit from baskets on there head.  Every major temple has an area at the entrance with dozens of plastic chair street market style restaurants.
  The women from all restaurants come out running when a tourist is withing sight.  "Sir! Cold drinks Sir! You by t-shirt from me sir! Sir, somsing to eat?" Along the way I had to stop in at the restroom at one of the temples.  Even there you are not safe.  I turned to see who was asking me if I wanted to have something to eat.  There was a older lady, boobs out, baby on the right one, left one open.  She repeated "Sir, somsing to eat?" I could barley contain myself as I told Brenden the story later but added "left one for you" at the end of the story.

The children sell books, sell bracelets and beg.  The worst of the one who choose the pouty whinny technique to attempt to separate you from your money.  They simply do not take no for an answer.  I have had children follow me for more than 20 minutes repeating the same phrase in the same whinney voice. "Sir, 10 for one dollar." The more successful children go with the cutie pie approach and try to impress their prey with wide smiles, knowledge of the capital cities around the world, and the odd joke.  A disturbingly high percentage of young women are prostitutes and seem to be absolutely everywhere.
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Siem Reap
photo by: genetravelling