Kingdom of Wonder

Cambodia: Kingdom of Wonder

I wondered a lot of things on our recent trip to Siem Reap.  Most notably, I wondered how people survive on the food.  Also, I wondered if it could possibly get any hotter. It could. During the day we walked around at various temples sweating and taking in the sight of meandering elephants.  Our nightlife consisted of wandering through markets and restaurants on Pub Street.

The entire town is set up as a tourist trap which sounds disappointing. Instead, it made everything super easy. Need a driver? Tour guide? Beer? Massage? Book it all through the hotel for cheap.  The downside of convenience was the fact that I couldn’t understand a word our tour guide said. “If you’ll look over here…blah, blah, elephant…blah, blah empire.”  Tex seemed to speak his language. He did follow us around and take a lot of photos though.  That was handy.

In one of those ‘it’s-so-bad-it’s-good’ situations, we attended an ‘authentic’ Cambodian dance show.  It came with a buffet dinner of hot, wet Chinese food.  Of the HUNDREDS of Mainland Chinese tourists attending the dinner and show – there were 5 non-mainlanders – including Tex and me.  So, it was not geared towards us. Our tour guide was also obviously getting kickbacks from the local restaurants and businesses; including a scarf salesmen who tried to charge us $80 for a scarf we paid $4 for on Pub Street. I wonder who is buying the $80 version…




The Pros:

Amazing sights – temples, twisty trees, wealthy backpackers.
Cheap massages, transportation, food and drink.
Fast, easy, affordable tour guides and drivers.
U.S. dollars used throughout Siem Reap.
Decent tacos and fun nightlife.

The Cons:

Hot as Hades.
Mostly gross local cuisine.
Tourist traps around every corner.
Hot. Did I mention it was hot?