First impressions of Siem Reap

Siem Reap Travel Blog

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Our guesthouse pool

Phew!! What a relief. Before we left the UK we had such high hopes of Cambodia and to be honest our experiences in Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh had begun to give us a bit of a negative view of the people if not the places. Our arrival in Siem Reap; off the bus from Phnom Penh was the beginning of the turn around. Luckily we had the foresight to arrange to be picked up by a guesthouse from the bus terminal and although the guesthouse we had arranged it with was full the driver took us free of charge to another guesthouse of our choosing, called Ancient Angkor Guesthouse which was the first hassle free arrival we've had anywhere.

Adam reading up on "Ancient Angkor" by our pool
It was a good job too because the melee of tuk tuk drivers at the bus stop was so bad that the station has gates manned by two police officers to control them. Even having been picked up we were jostled and implored to abandon our free pick up in favour of paying one of the tuk tuk mafia!! At the best of times Siem Reap is chock full of tourists due to the temples of Angkor, which are Cambodia's main draw. Now though the Chinese New Year, which runs from the 7th to the 9th, has made the town full to the rafters. The only room available was fan only with no air con but we were lucky to get a room at all and after we arrived and settled in we watched a procession of people come and be turned away looking for a room. The people in our hotel are super friendly and we will be moving to an aircon room tomorrow.
Steph at Temple, our first Happy Hour beer spot on Pub Street

We took it easy all afternoon, had a dip in our pool, drank a few fruit shakes then up to our room and got ready for the happy hour slog in "pub street". Siem Reap is a very touristy town and has been for quite a while so things are very geared up. There is a whole street given over to bars and restaurants which is closed to traffic in the evening and even the hawkers and grubby kids are mostly kept away. Fantastic! The kids are the most annoying thing about Cambodia. They seem to think that being dirty and able to count to ten in english is enough to warrant us giving them money. Of course so many tourists do you really can't blame them for not washing, skipping school and trying it on. The thing is that so many tourists give them candy that their teeth will rot and they'll suffer later, by earning so much hawking and begging they get no education.

Adam at Temple, our first Happy Hour beer spot on Pub Street
 In the long run, the admittedly well meaning idiots who give them stuff; are actually denying them a future. It's very ironic and actually quite stomach churning but as usual the vast majority of people don't stop to think about the consequences of their actions. The worst ones are actually all the dippy, broody, young women who take their photos thinking they are cute. Sorry to burst the bubble but they are dirty, exploited and you're not helping.

We did a tour of the pubs and bars checking the menus for vegan and veggie options, of which there were many, but the best was a place called the Khmer Kitchen in an adjacent street called pub alley!! We had a few happy hour beers at 25p a time in a bar back on pub street which in this heat go down far too well. Having decided on the restaurant the meal we had there was possibly the best all round meal we've had in Asia.

Pub Street by night
By far the best in Cambodia and we suspect we'll be back here several times before we leave. Especially as it was one of the cheapest places we saw.

With a very enjoyable beer buzz we stopped off at the night market on the way home and had a very enjoyable spending frenzy and some fun negotiations with the stall holders. Between us we got two tops, a dress and some trousers as well as a few presents for people back home (obviously can't specify but don't get excited!). All for around US$20!! The people in the market were all super friendly and it only reinforced our opinion that the Cambodians here are a totally different breed.

Virginiagoodings says:
This sounds much better! Again, am guessing you are pretty accomplished at negotiating now!
Mum /Virginia xxoo
Posted on: Feb 11, 2008
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Our guesthouse pool
Our guesthouse pool
Adam reading up on Ancient Angkor…
Adam reading up on "Ancient Angko…
Steph at Temple, our first Happy H…
Steph at Temple, our first Happy …
Adam at Temple, our first Happy Ho…
Adam at Temple, our first Happy H…
Pub Street by night
Pub Street by night
Pub street by day (as seen from So…
Pub street by day (as seen from S…
Steph enjoying a Bubble Tea
Steph enjoying a Bubble Tea
Siem Reap
photo by: genetravelling