Having heard about the delicate engravings and charm of Banteay Srei (Khmer for “Citadel of the Women”) temple, we organized a special trip there with our tuk-tuk driver. It is one of the oldest Hindu temples at Angkor and dates back to the 10th century. Continue Reading »
Monthly Archive: February 2007
When we think of the temples of Angkor, some of the images permanently etched in our heads are those of the Angkor children. The kids of Angkor bring life to the temples, accenting the stone ruins with their adorable faces. Young children from the age of two look up pleadingly at tourists with their big dark eyes and ask them to buy postcards. “Sir, 10 postcards for $1. Buy from me.” You hear it over and over again. Continue Reading »
Like 99% of the tourists who come to Siem Reap, we came to see the temples of Angkor and became cogs in the Angkor tourist processing machine – arranging transport, buying a 3-day pass, and temple hopping.
We had heard beforehand of the spiritual nature of the temples and the beauty of their engravings. We had no idea of the scale of the complex and did not fully fathom the number of tourists we’d share it with. Continue Reading »
After the rich, chocolaty coffee in Vietnam, we were hurting for a good cup of coffee in Cambodia.
One afternoon, we followed the scent of coffee on a dirt road near the market in Siem Reap and found ourselves in the home of a coffee roaster. Bags of freshly roasted beans were piled high, but not a drop of drinkable coffee was to be had.
Disappointed, we slunked back to the main street. Sensing our disappointment, the tuk-tuk drivers hanging out nearby asked what we were looking for. We explained our search for strong coffee. They pointed us in the direction of Saigon Café. Continue Reading »
Much of what the visitor to Siem Reap sees are streets filled with restaurants, hotels, spas and other services geared towards foreign tourists. There is another side to life here, however, one that is neither shiny nor prosperous. Continue Reading »
Our bus from Phnom Penh was met by a driver proudly holding a sign saying “Ganiel.” From the moment we got into the car, the driver started his selling pitch as the perfect guide and driver to the Angkor temples. Maps circulated like popcorn inside the car as the excitement level in his voice rose audibly. Continue Reading »
Having traveled by boat to Cambodia, we took a pass on the popular – and long – boat trip from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and opted for the cheap bus instead. We figured we could make better use of the extra $4 per person.
When we booked our tickets, the agent from the bus company whipped out tickets and checked us off on a seat manifest that was virtually empty. It appeared like we’d have the bus to ourselves.
Instead, at the moment of departure, Cambodians seemed to descend from the heavens and packed the bus to almost fully booked. Continue Reading »
When our tuk-tuk first dropped us off near Boeng Kak Lake in Phnom Penh, it looked like a standard backpacker ghetto – cheap restaurants, internet cafes, guest houses, tattoo parlors, and travel agencies selling discounted bus tickets. We wondered why we had even bothered. But we persisted in a search for a perfect sunset promised by our guide book. Continue Reading »
In contrast to its sunshine and smiles, Cambodia’s recent history under the control of the Khmer Rouge is nothing short of horrific.
Tuol Sleng, originally a high school in downtown Phnom Penh, was transformed into Security Prison 21 (S-21) by the Khmer Rouge between 1975-1979. It’s estimated that close to 20,000 people were imprisoned here; only seven are known to have survived. Continue Reading »
During out first night in Phnom Penh, two bank guards shared their dinner with us after we showed curiosity in what they were eating. They invited us to take a few bites, told us the name of the dish in Khmer, and indicated how much we should pay for the dish to avoid being ripped off. Not quite what we were expected from a city from which we heard reports of “dark and dangerous.” Continue Reading »