I just got into Siem Reap and walked around for a few hours. What a different place compared to the others. Lots of restaurants packed into small streets, shops, bars, pubs (and pub streets). Also a whole lotta fun with a camera I think. The markets are bustling and then the river area with the wonderful little bridges are quiet. Its going to be an interesting mixture of photography. I have not been able to visit a more lively spot since Phnom Penh. Siem Reap has this funk going I think.
I’m going to spend a few days looking around the downtown area where my hotel is and next week will do one of three tours by tuk tuk and car that the hotel sponsors. The prices are much better. I think I just want to do all the tours they have and the total cost will be around $70 plus a week’s pass for Angkor temples and parks.
The town is a busy and thriving place with I have to say a lot of flirtatious young Khmer women that will smile and wave and even wink at me. I found that rather fun to see as one gave me this rather beautiful smile and then checked on me again to make sure I had caught the smile and returned it. It kinda makes an old retired guy feel good to think that someone will smile. The market stall owners are very friendly and most speak more than a fair amount of English which is nice as well.
Now I’m in my room or as I prefer to call it my lair. I’ve been looking at Google Maps and there are way too many restaurants so I will just pick a local Khmer place tonight that is a little bit of a walk to the market area. The rule still is that the food is cheap but there are such a diversity of restaurants here. I’m glad I have a month! The hotel also has free breakfasts each morning so thats a good way to start things off.
Starting tomorrow will be days out with the camera exploring in all different directions for a few days. I want to get familiar with the street layouts and shortcuts here and there but mostly I want to get lost. The city is big enough to be able to do some serious wandering and sightseeing. Buildings and parks are interesting as well. The Siem Reap river runs right through town and there’s a really charming park area with bridges that separate the market. I’ll start working on all that tomorrow with the camera.
Then starting next week I will be doing a tour a week for three weeks through the hotel. I’ll be able to see a lot of the locations either by tuk tuk or car. The temple areas require a pass to get in that you buy for different time lengths and you need a ride there. I’ll finish up by visiting a biodiversity area called Tonle Sap which is a nationally registered ecological zone.
So, I think Siem Reap has a lot to offer the enterprising vagabond. Lots of interesting people and sights to find in the city that will take up days and days of time. Some hunting for some shoes I would like, some socks and a new belt. I’ll start looking off and on as I walk the city. I’ve seen the belts but the market by the river does not have a good showing of men’s socks and I saw no real shoes to speak of either. One of the persons in a clothing stall told me I should go to the local market to find things.
I have to say its really nice being here compared to Sihanoukville. The area around Sihanoukville is being so heavily developed and the little Otres Village area I think is slowly but surely being taken over by Chinese business owners. Soon many of the restaurants will not be owned by the Cambodians. One already appears to have been sold and when I went there last all the prices had gone up.
I will not be going back to Sihanoukville. I think the cities I could revolve around would be Kampot, Phnom Penh, and Siem Reap. I have not seen Battambang yet so will reserve judgement and perhaps I will like it there and add it. At the current time though I think a decent home base is Kampot but a nice thing about Siem Reap is the airport where Kampot is 2 to 3 hours from Phnom Penh Airport.
Lots to consider and its why I took the 4 months to see some of the places here in Cambodia. I wondered even before if one of the places would catch me and I would consider staying longer. The only one so far is Kampot. The real thing though is that settling down and just living in a place does not do much for me. Its the slow travel and spending as much time as I would like in places that really gets me.
Stay tuned for the next month of reporting here on my Siem Reap adventures. Gonna be fun!