Siem Reap charm and style
Siem Reap Travel Blog› entry 86 of 126 › view all entries
While most people come to Siem Reap to visit the Angkor Wat archaeological sites, I came to admire the bars and eateries that dot the Old Market area. French Colonial buildings preserve the charm of a more recent bygone era than that of temple ruins.
I especially liked the open-air, upper floor verandas at the Warehouse, an American-owned bar-restaurant across the street from the old market. Siem Reap's changing skyline looks fresh and sharp from there when skies are blue. Red-clay tiles contrast with older rooftops that are moldy, gray, and weathered. Palm trees mark the river. Photos of street-side activities from any second- or third-floor veranda are difficult though because of the tangled maze of electrical wires lining the streets.
It's entertaining to watch venders peddling tuk tuk or motorbike taxis, massages, sunglasses, bracelets, or pirated books, yet remain out of reach of their annoying spiels that never stop. They seem more desperate for a sale by the lack of visitors during the off-season. A well-established guesthouse, bar, or restaurant can generate enough income during the high season to survive the quiet months but street venders struggle year-round. I was grateful that their pestering dropped off dramatically after being in town for several days.
At Molly Malone's I sipped a sundown cappuccino to enjoy ground-floor views through columned arches; of night-time eateries coming to life across the street. Travelers and locals gathered at street-side tables for Khmer meals from rows of wood-burning grills, plastic coolers, and glass display cases.
I had been out to the Angkor sites several times on previous visits but found Siem Reap itself to be of equal charm and style. I would highly recommend to anyone who visits the area to spend at least one full daytime to enjoy the old town itself. Unfortunately for this aging traveler though, the dynamic nightlife at the X Bar, Angkor What?, Temple Club, and others did not kick in until late night. By then I was enjoying the even more modern comforts of my guesthouse room.