Monday, November 11, 2013

Siem Reap

We arrived at the airport in Siem Reap the other morning after a 45 min flight from Phnom Penh and quickly arranged a tuk tuk to take us to our hotel - the Golden Temple Villa. The hotel is lovely with a courtyard filled with tropical plants and palms, pools of fish and statues of visnhu and buddha. The service is impeccable, the room is simple but charming, the wifi is good and it comes with swell perks like free coffee, tea, and bananas, and a 1 hour free massage (of which Betty Lou has already availed herself), all for the princely sum of $24/night.

After getting settled we went out to explore the town. It feels much smaller and while the traffic is still madness and there are even more hawkers, it is much quieter than Phnom Penh. We are staying a few blocks from the hub (at least as far as tourists ar concerned) of Siem Reap - the market and streets lined with colorful and inviting shops and restaurants. There is a river running through the town and which connects it with Phnom Penh. 
We had a lovely time exploring and browsing at the market for spices, tea, fruit and clothing before settling in to a lovely outdoor eatery for some amok. The rest of the day was spent exploring the town, including popping imto one temple to listen to the monks in prayer, chanting, which was very peaceful.

In the evening, we sat at one of the many bars/restaurants on "pub street" for some people watching, which was alright. There are so many tourists here. It is to be expected i suppose, but they are really concentrated into this one area. It is a nice area though. After exploring and eating Betty Lou enjoyed her massage and i enjoyed some relaxation of my own variety at the hookah lounge across the street from our hotel which was crowded with locals and thick with shisha smoke.

It feels a bit hotter here than our other stops - hotter and more humid. It is still fine, but you have to accept that you will never feel cool or clean and makeup is impossible. We did get some laundry done (cleaned and pressed for $1.50), but those clothes are already filthy.

Here, as in our other stops, people in the business of catering to tourists speak decent english. Our attempts at speaking Khmer are simple at best. We noticed in Phnom Penh that many locals who spoke no english, also had little ability to read Khmer. A few times i used my phrase book to point to sentences written in Khmer (like, 'do you have vegetarian food') but they were unable to read them. The same goes for maps. But one can always make one's self understood.

We are here for about four days and plan to spend about two of them visiting temples.

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