|We arrived by shared taxi early evening after our epic journey from Bangkok, hot, tired, thirsty and hungry. Cue for a large ice-cold beer which we found straight after check in at the hotel, The Angkor Pearl. Very clean room, huge bed and......aircon.
Siem Reap sprawls for miles into the countryside, fuelled by the demands of Angkor Wat tourism. Many, many hotels, hostels, guest houses. Some really big and plush hotels along the highway into town, some still under construction.
So, we were given a recommendation for a nearby restaurant but when we got there it was closed. So, Pub Street it was! (For those who have not been here, it is the backpacker party area, many many bars and restaurants). We found The Khmer Kitchen which served a great Amok, a delicious and flavoursome mild curry, a Khmer speciality, with a jug of Cambodia beer. Great stuff.
Next morning we met a tuk-tuk driver, Mr Smey, who took us to Angkor Wat and spent the whole day with us. He was really friendly and so we hired him for the following day to take us to a 'floating' village; it did appear that way as the water levels were very high! It was really a village with all the houses, school, police station etc on stilts. Our boat, which, by local standards, cost us an arm and a leg, took us gently through the village so we could see the people going about their daily life, fishing, shrimping (and drying huge mats covered with shrimp), school children paddling home from school, all very smart in their uniforms and all quite incongruous! A fascinating visit but did illustrate the depths of poverty some Cambodians live in.
Returning to Siem Reap, Ruth insisted we visit the local market, so we wandered around for some while, though we did buy scarves and a large bag. Back to our hotel to freshen up and then back to Pub Street. A real buzzy place, lots of people and music from the various bars. Another Amok then bed - early start tomorrow to catch the bus to Phnom Penh.
The Cambodians are a very gentle friendly people and even when they hassled to take their tuk-tuk, it was all done in good humour. Given their terrible history, it has only been 30 years since the fall of Pol Pot, we found it amazing they could be so cheerful. Having said that, they are becoming more politically aware and there were protests at the stalemated government and also against the largely Chinese owned garment factories - all peaceful -date. There is also growing resentment at what the Cambodians see as too much control and influence by the Vietnamese and the Chinese.
Driving in Cambodia looks, at first sight to be manic, but no one drives very fast, and whilst bikes seem to come from every direction, here are no collisions or road rage. Everyone just goes about their way.
We really enjoyed our stay and would return.