We arrived at the Siem Reap bus station and were given a tuk-tuk driver named Chan, a incredibly nice and well spoken man with an adidas sponsored tuk-tuk who had to pay $30 a month for the privilege of being able to wait for tourists at the bus station
. He took us straight to our boutique Swiss run hotel just across the river from the main tourist district. We ditched our bags then headed into town to check it out, even though it had started to rain. Siem Reap is a very cool little tourist town, with a few blocks of markets and French/Western restaurants and pubs and fancy boutique cafes. We started with some cold shakes at the Blue Pumpkin, an awesome French café where Matt had the best banana shake in the world. Then we hit the markets… "Lady you buy something?" “Sir come look, you buy?” “Lady please look inside” “I have many colour and size”… There were rows and rows of stalls all selling the same things: jewellery, bags, scarves, tshirts, clothes, souvenirs, DVDs… Matt tried to find a t-shirt with the local Angkor beer logo on the front, but ended up with 2 with it on the back. He would find a stall with logos on the front and then buy a cellophane wrapped shirt only to find back at the hotel that the logo was on the back again! We did have some success though, buying some shorts, a polo and a scarf.
Before dinner we went for a drink at Angkor What?, the bar that started what is now known as Pub Street. This is a western bar with concrete walls covered in graffiti by its punters. There was even a slice of home with a NZ section of tags on the wall. After dinner we went to the night markets for more bargaining and entertainment. There are a lot more westerners and tourists here than in Phnom Penh, and it definitely feels more like a holiday town… worth the visit for sure.
This morning we jumped on a bus for the 6 hour ride up to Siem Reap. This was a great opportunity to see the Cambodian countryside, with all its villages and villagers and rice fields. There was a Swiss girl on out bus who had been in Cambodia a while and was telling a couple of Germans all about the Cambodian customs and the good places to see and visit. It was a very interesting conversation to eavesdrop on and we learnt a lot ourselves. The bus had a TV and showed lots of Cambodian karaoke, but they also managed to slip in Jackie Chan's 'Mr Nice Guy’ and ‘Rambo 5’. Of course it was in Khmer with subtitles and we were sitting too far away to be able to read them, but the fight scenes were still worth the watch.