No-one told me Siem Reap was beautiful. No-one told me Siem Reap was clean,landscaped, with a lovely river lined with trees and benches. No-one told me the Cambodians are as friendly as the Laotions (I think that’s how they are referred). No-one told me Cambodian food was tasty.
I’m sure all that’s written down somewhere, and some people have told me these things, but it never stuck in my mind.
Siem Reap, at least in the centre, is chock full of french style colonian shophouses, it’s well paved, I felt safe walking around at night, and everyone is friendly. Yes, you get ‘hassled’ a bit more to buy knock off books, bracelets and postcards, but it’s all done in such a friendly way. There’s clearly been a lot of cash pumped in as plush hotels litter the roadside. Maybe the capital isn’t as friendly but I’ll hang on to this for a bit longer.
We ‘did’ the temples in a day, maybe not giving them justice, but doing it in such a manner we felt satisfied and not templed out.
Yesterday I had to laugh. Two young girls approached me trying to offload some postcards and books :
1st girl : “Hello sir, you buy postcard from me?”
“No thank you I don’t want any postcards”
2nd girl : “Hello sir, you buy bracelet from me?”
“No thank you I don’t want a bracelet”
“Sir, you buy bracelet for wife”
“I don’t have a wife”
“Sir, you buy bracelet for girlfriend”
“I don’t have a girlfriend” (I thought saying that would stop them!)
“Sir, you know why you don’t have a girlfriend, you don’t buy ladies anything. You buy from me you get girlfriend”
You have to laugh, but ‘hassled’? I think not.
If you don’t that, you get something like this :
“Sir, where you from?”
“I live Edinburgh. Edinburgh is capital of Scotland. Scotland has five million people. Scotland next to England, all part of UK. England has 65 million people. Capital of UK is London. UK is in Europe. You speak French? Bonjour. Cava?”
“Tres Bien, et vous” (ecxuse my poor French!)
“Moi Aussie, Tres Bien. You speak any other languages Sir. Paris is capital of France……”
I’ve also got more used to the haggling thing as well,to the point where yesterday we got a tuk-tuk. “How much to Green Town Guest House?”
“No way, Two dollar? How about 2000 Riel?” (about 50 cents)
“Yes, ok, get in”.
Same for knock off books.
Siem Reap is a great place. A lot of culture on your doorstep, and I sat in a beer garden surrounded by butterflies while typing emails on my laptop.