First Week in Siem Reap — food, fun, places to see

My next week activities in Siem Reap will be on one of three tours through the hotel. I’ll be able to visit almost all of the major temple historic sites starting this Tuesday. Since you have to buy a pass at the gate of the historic site, the hotel recommends a 3 day pass which will cost about $70. I may do a tour a week with them which will get me through the end of my stay. I think the main thing is to go slow through the tours and also be able to see more of the city in-between times.

I’ve had a good first week in the city. If you come here the coffee and food scene is very nice here. You can find international restaurants, very nice coffee houses, and the little latte stands that I really like here. A freshly made latte will set you back about $1.50 and its pretty good sized. The price for a decent Khmer dinner is about $5.00 which includes a beer. I splurge a bit and usually get two entrees since I only eat breakfast and dinner. Getting around Siem Reap if you don’t like walking is pretty easy with a Tuk Tuk but I prefer to walk everywhere so I plan a day of walking each day. Its hot here so I am usually drenched in sweat when I get back but its the same thing as in Hanoi or Saigon or wherever. Perhaps I’m used to it by now.

Shopping Notes and Nots

If you need things here or want things here, try the Old Market by the river. Its a big and rather complex market but I wanted a few things. First I wanted some extra T shirts which is quite easy here. Just about any stall has cheap T shirts and they all seem to have XXL size which is nice! Secondly, I wanted some cheap walking sandals. That required me to search a bit more in the market but right about dead center in the market are shoe stalls where the lady let me try on different sizes to determine luckily I wear a common size here. Finally, I needed new socks. But try as I might and I tried twice, I could not find socks in the market. I ended up down the street at this little clothing store where mostly they have used clothing but in the front were socks in my size for $1.00 a pair. Cheap! I may end up getting a new belt and that’s easy too in the market. Not sure how much belts run here but I’ve seen some nice ones in a few stalls.

So I would say you can find about 90% of what you may want if you are on the road in most of the markets in Cambodia. It may require some patience and perseverance; but it’s definitely doable. Its also worthwhile to haggle and offer something kinda low at first after you hear their price. I got the woman with the shoes to drop $15 off each pair which was nice.

There is really no reason to buy expensive stuff if you are just gonna wear it to walk through the rather hot Cambodian sun and see stuff. The shopping malls cater to a different world of people than me. I saw clothing for some amazing prices and would not buy the types of clothing I wear which is t shirts, lightweight cargo shorts with lots of pockets, socks and decent shoes. After looking around yesterday in a few malls and shopping centers, the prices are better to buy things like toothpaste, shampoo, bath soap in either the market or a small mini mart or local shop. I would say the local shops have the best prices of all.

Next Steps and Stops

So next up is Angkor Was and some of its other sites this week! I’m pretty excited about going since its one of the main reasons I came here. I want to be able to leave in 3 weeks and feel I got to see a good sample of the historic sites and the Angkor museum which I can walk to tomorrow before going to the historic site.

I also have areas of the city still to see and a whole bunch of restaurants, coffee shops and pubs left to sample. Its all fun and my time winds down to 15 December when I leave here for Battambang for two weeks. Siem Reap has been one of the most fun cities but I still like Kampot more. Its a slower pace, less people, but still really good food choices. The riverwalk there is a slow amble. Here it’s a faster tourist stroll. I don’t think I would choose to live here compared to a place like Kampot if I were to decide to stay longer in a place. It is possible that I could stay somewhere for months on my retirement visa.

So, anyways, it has been a good first week and the time as usual goes by a bit faster than what I think it will. Each city I have been to has had a set of things that recommend it or that I find interesting and fun. While I would not go back to Sihanoukville, I would come back to Siem Reap. I guess that’s saying something!

I’ll be writing some words of wisdom later in the week once I get the first tour under my belt and am able to see some amazing history here.