An adventure to happiness....

Angkor Travel Blog

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We flew from Ho Chi Minh City straight into Siem Reap.

The Tuk Tuk drivers in these south east asian countries are fantastic.

They get a commission for pretty much everything they take you to.

Once you understand how it all works, and learn how to let them know that you are actually in charge, you can really make the system work for you.

We had our driver take us to a place that he recommended but under the guise that we already had another hotel that we had booked and wanted to go to. This gave us leverage and we soon found ourselves checking into his ‘preferred’ place with a considerable discount and it was a very nice hotel.

I was also soon massively disturbed to find that the two major attractions of Cambodia had been sold by the government to a private Japanese firm.
Cleaning duties
I’ve been unable to properly substantiate this, however the general consensus is that both the Angkor Wat temples and the Killing Fields are owned and operated by a private firm. This should never have been allowed.

We spent a day and a half touring all the temples. It was hot, humid and it involved a lot of walking and climbing. It was totally worth it! Angkor was the capital of the region for a long time and is still, to this day, the largest religious complex in the world. The temples were all varied in size, style and detail and made for some fantastic photography.

We were all templed out after two days at Angkor so we took a side tour to a nearby fishing village on water. The entire village was on water: the houses, school, basketball court, everything! It was an interesting ride and we got to go out on a houseboat where we played with crocodiles and snakes and encountered more beggars.

Siem Reap is a small little city and naturally, all the tourist conglomerate in the one little section of the town.
This means that, so do, all the beggars. But these aren’t just any beggar, they are the smartest beggars I’ve seen anywhere. And they are all under the age of 10.

A typical interaction goes like this:

“Hey mister, hey mister! Where you from?”


“Oh…ok…G’day mate! My name John Howard. I your Prime Minister. I live in Canberra. Australia have 20million people. Australia have kangaroo, koala, wombat, snake, lizard, crocodile.

Mister, you buy postcard from me?”

Their knowledge wasn’t restricted to Australia either. They were versed on every major visiting nation.

After such a pleasant little surprise like that, how can you resist? This little 8 year old Cambodian just demonstrated more knowledge about Australia than almost any other foreigner I’ve ever met.

Only after I got her to promise to stay in school, and she told me that she wanted to pursue a career in tourism, did I buy her postcard.

Another scam involves them asking you for any foreign coins you may have.

So you happily give them away - I gave a couple aussie dollars. Then the next kid I met at the next temple says 'Mister, where you from?' and then once he discovered I was Australian says 'I have these Australian coins, but I cant use them, can you please change them for me?'

Again, I knew I'd been scammed, but the ingenuity of it was just so simple and beautiful. What surprised me even more was how good their maths skills were and their conversion rate knowledge. I was more than happy to sweeten the deal for it's such damn good fun talking and bargaining with them.

It can be a bit overwhelming, as there are literally tens of them in groups that swarm you wherever you go. The most disturbing thing for me was the large number of deformed and maimed people crawling around the streets. Life has been cruel to these people. But they still seem happier than the average man on the street that I’ve ever met in any western city…. it seems, that often in life, the people with the least reason to be happy, are in fact the happiest.

I'm often reminded that the beauty of a happy child is one of lif'es most precious gifts and these children are certainly no exception.

If travelling has done nothing else for me, it's always made me more humble and appreciative of the fortunate life that I have....

dicksiem says:
I've been here to, for me this was a memorable experience.

And what you wrote about those little kids....very recognizable. Like reading your blog!
Posted on: Mar 11, 2008
marloesetman says:
Have been here also but still love to read your blog. Your pictures are great! :)
Posted on: Dec 30, 2007
TrikyTrayC says:
I leave for Cambodia next year, and I am looking forward to it! I dream of the adventures I'll have in southeast Asia. Your blog was very informative and vivid. Thank you for sharing your experiences. If you have any advice I'd love for you to share them.

Take good care.

Posted on: Nov 28, 2007
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Cleaning duties
Cleaning duties
Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat
where to start cleaning
where to start cleaning
entrance to the citadel
entrance to the citadel
view from Angkor
view from Angkor
Another view from Angkor
Another view from Angkor
255 km (158 miles) traveled
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photo by: ulysses