It was around 3pm when we went out for a walk around the city of Siem Reap just few hours after arriving from Bangkok. It was the perfect time to explore the place by foot as it was cooler in the afternoon. Siem Reap is a city but there's a rural feel to it. It's very laid-back. There are no high-rise buildings or huge malls. There are still a lot of trees within the city center.
I forgot to bring a Cambodia map so we just started walking until we came across a temple and checked it out, we also checked out the Summer Residence of the Royal family and a park in front of the Raffles Grand Hotel d Angkor. Everywhere we went we had to pause and admire the architecture of the hotels and other buildings. They're not the usual gleaming glass buildings but they have distinct characters.
Around 5 pm we hailed a tuktuk to the Old Market. We had planned to buy souvenirs and try a local dish called "amok". The Old Market area was teeming with interesting shops.We came across a store that sold different types of tea including a " lotus flower tea". Aside from souvenir shops, there were also a number of restaurants and pubs that lined the street called -what else?- the Pub street, making the entire place really colorful and vibrant. It made me realize that Siem Reap had the best of both worlds. It's not chaotic like other cities but it's not boring either. I bought a miniature rickshaw and a set of apsara key chains all for US$ 10. I also couldn't help but shell out $7 for a table cloth with the Angkor Wat embroidery on it.
|At a souvenir shop in the "Old Market" area|
After shopping for souvenirs we ordered amok and Angkor beer at one of the restaurants for only $5. We chose the fish over the beef and chicken amok. It tasted like curry and was really good. Our trip coincided with the World Cup so there were many European tourists that trooped to the Pub Street to watch the matches. We could hear all the screaming and cheering from the streets. Every now and then a bunch of kids would come up to us and try to sell us souvenir items ,books about Angkor and whatknots. They were very aggressive and if you ignore them you could hear them utter God-knows-what in their language. There was one boy carrying a basin full of fried crickets, I took a picture of him and his companion demanded that I pay them for that. What? We ignored him but he kept on following us and he was calling me (in English this time) "not handsome! not handsome! hahaha. It's called ugly kid. However , in the same area another boy who was selling the same stuff dared me to try the crickets for no charge. I thought of trying it but I had noticed that the crickets were still dripping with oil after being deep-fried. That made me think twice. I wondered how they had prepared those and if they had used clean cooking oil. No thanks! It was just day one , I didn't want to be sick already. After dinner at another restaurant we called it a night and headed back to our guest house.