Saturday, January 17, 2009

Trip to Angkor Wat, Cambodia (6)

The car from the hotel was there to pick us up at the airport and on the way there we saw hotels of all sorts. Most of them looking very similar. Big blocks of pale brown all with signs with the word, "Angkor" in them. Angkor Central Hotel, Angkor Millennium Hotel, Royal Angkor this, Royal Angkor that. There were LOTS of hotels, the whole town seemed to be full of hotels. Our hotel was not on the main road but on a quieter side street.
After checking in, arranging a guide and transportation for the next day, we went off on foot to see the town. The guide offered to take us around and show us the sights of Siem Reap, but we declined. We wanted to see, explore and feel out the place ourselves. The back streets of the town seemed pretty much like Myanmar in many ways except for the numerous phone card and handset selling shops. I noticed that the motorcycles and tuks tuks went SLOWLY! Can you believe that ? Slowly, gently, not a lot of honking at all. This must be what the traffic is like in heaven . LOL. We strolled along the main boulevard, dropping into replica antique shops, handicrafts shops. But why were there so many "foot massage" places? I was to know on the morrow.
The Cambodian currency is the "Riel" but dollars are accepted too. The problem is if you pay with dollars there no change. A Coke is "a dollar" whether it is really 50 cents in Riel or at a supermarket. So change some money into Riel (the rate was 4000 Riel to a dollar then) if you ever happen to be there. Yes, you can use the US dollar everywhere but it is good to have some riel on you too. Much cheaper!
On the main road to the main "Old Market" area we stumbled into a comparatively dimly lit market with tourist knick knacks and lots of stuff. I wanted a T-shirt with the word "Angkor" on it and got what I wanted: an "Angkor Beer" T-shirt and another one saying, "Danger! Landmines ". But that was after some hard haggling. Those XXL size ones for me cost 2 bucks apiece, that whittled down from an initial 5 dollar asking price.
My mum got 3 small T- shirts for 4 dollars, a good price but only after checking out the quality of them. They come in so many types and qualities that you must be careful.
After a so-so meal of noodles and a warm "Angkor Beer", we went back to the hotel with our plunder. Around 9 my mum said she was a bit hungry again and out I went for some bread. I took a tuk tuk to look for a bakery with some fresh bread and found a marvelous French bakery called the "Purple Pumpkin". They had great ice-creams too. But the tuk tuk driver was a bit of a nuisance offering to take me to night clubs and asking if I wanted companionship of the female or boy-female kind.
I politely declined.
Anyway the next day at dawn, we were to be at the famed Angkor Wat and after some late grub we dropped off to sleep.

Mr. Soe Lwin is the principle and teacher of the most respected English Language School in Mandalay.
He took our mother, on a trip of her dreams (her latest dreams) in the last week of 2008.
Please read previous posts for a full account of the trip.

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