Siem Reip

 

We caught a Russian AN24 turboprop, operated by President Airlines, and sat in a sauna like setting until the plane gained enough altitude for the vents of the nonairconditioned plane to start emitting cool fog.  The green rice paddies, rivers, and the largest lake in South East Asia moved slowly beneath us. After 40 minutes we landed in Siem Riep, a midsize city, which sits next to one of the seven wonders of the world, the temples of Angkor Wat.  

We followed our taxi driver's suggestion to try the Temple 10 Hotel, and he took us to a new, 4 story hotel of about 20 rooms, with an attractive adjoining open air restaurant.  Our room with three beds was $25.  It was turning dusk, so we walked the main two lane street lined with small hotels, restaurants, internet cafes and shops.  A night market was nearby and we watched cheerful cooks create interesting dishes from their portable, wheeled kitchens.

Night market

Barbequed snake.

Breakfast at the hotel.

Morning offering.

During breakfast at the hotel the next morning, a Buddhist monk made his appearance, and the lively 16 year old hotel manager rushed out to make her morning offering. Cambodia is a country of young people. So many of the older generation, particularly the educated, were lost under the Khmer Rouge, that shop owners, monks, and  entrepreneurs tend to be in their 20s and 30s. Their children are mostly in Jr. High School or younger. In the country and fishing villages one sees older people, but even there the demographic is mostly young.

We were amazed at the quality of the English spoken in the country.  The school children spoke very clear English, and the shop owners, taxi drivers and others who normally deal with tourists often spoke English as well as Japanese and French.  The U.S. dollar was a dual currency, accepted by everyone.  At 4,000 Riep to the dollar, the local currency was used for small items, but was mostly unnecessary.  There are no ATMs, and credit cards are normally not recognized, so we followed the guide book and brought cash, mostly in $1 and $5 denominations.

 

Motorcycle and trailer.

Monkey wanting a handout.

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Don Webster:  websterdr@yahoo.com