Siem Reap means "flat defeat of Siam" and is an appropriate handle for a city in a country that has been in conflict with neighboring Thailand for centuries. There's still a conflict between the two countries over a temple that, in my opinion, clearly belongs to Cambodia. But no one's asking me.
The city's population is about 175,000 and its economy depends almost totally on tourism. A river runs through it--the Siem Reap River.
There are no high rises here. The streets look like this..
Daytime in town.
The road leading into town
I had dinner at this great little Khmer restaurant last night.
I sat at a table that was in an alley.
Directly across from my table was this vendor stall selling colorful scarves made of Cambodian silk.
I love Khmer food. It's very flavorful, but not spicy. My favorite so far is a dish called Amok, a dish with coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, galangal, garlic, tumeric, and a little bit of chili, and which can be made with fish, chicken, pork, beef, or tofu. I also like the curries--again, very flavorful but not really hot like Indian curries.
Here's my dinner from last night--delicious crispy spring rolls, Amok with fish, and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. I was able to eat only half the Amok, and it was the best I've had so far.
Total bill--$9. This was a real bargain.
The street vendors here are mostly organized into market areas (where in Bangkok they seem to line the sidewalks everywhere), and there are several market areas. There is no possibility of casual window shopping here. The vendors start selling as soon as you approach their shops, and if you pause to look, they are at you constantly. It's very annoying. The tuk-tuk drivers are the same way. Even though it's obvious that you're not looking for a ride, they ask anyway. And there are so many of them that you can't carry on a conversation. If it isn't the vendors, it's the tuk-tuk drivers...never a moments' peace.
I'm not crazy about Siem Reap. It's a dirty city. At one of the more highly rated outdoor restaurants where Dolly and I had dinner a couple of nights ago, I saw two rats scurry along a wall near our table. There is litter almost everywhere, and everything looks old and dirty. This country has been through a lot of bad stuff, so it's understandable, but still not pleasant.
Tomorrow, I'm off to Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand, where I will finally be able to COOL IT!
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