they find the best angles
Ok, the kids at the ruins are just trying to make a living and admittedly they don't just beg and ask for handouts. No, they offer a service. For a nominal fee, they will point out the best angles for capturing Angkor on film. I kind of like the act of exploring and finding these on my own but many people found them fun to be lead around by.
- Budget Travel
$15 to ride an elephant
I was told that one company has a monopoly on all of the elephants at Angkor. Hence there is no competition and the price is held artificially high. $15 for a short ride up Bakheng Hill simply isn't value for money.
Fun Alternatives: Walk up Bakheng Hill. It's good exercise.
- Budget Travel
If you want to travel to cambodia by land from Thailand. Just be careful when you cross the border.
Unique Suggestions: We were too early when we reach poipet. No tourist at that time and we have to follow one of the tout just to avoid the rest of them. Imagine, almost 30 cambodians following you all the way from main road to the famous "round-about". We were really under great pressure. Have no choice.
As a result, we ended up sitting in an "old" camry taxi. Broken wind screen and unlockable doors. What a GREAT experience!
Fun Alternatives: Walk straight to the Taxi. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT agreed to someone until you see the Taxi. Stand beside of the taxi that you want. Ask the driver for price before you enter.
Well well a free explanation from a guide ...NOT
When you climb up on one of the beautiful temples in the Angkor tempel complex,a guy starts to show you where Angkor Wat lies and several details on the making of the buildings.
The quality of their english is mostly so poor that you have no idea what he is talking about.you pick up words like red sandstone and hard rock granite...
He shows you some ornaments of the tempel that you saw on your own allready but being polite to this helpfull boy you listen to him while you are wasting your valuable time and are thinking of a way to get away even when his speech isn't over.
Then ...after the annoying speech..."can I have some money please ?"
I don' t wanna be a hard ass but after being chased by vendors at every entrance at every tempel .Having to say " No thank you" 1000 times a day you have enough of the crap.
If I want a guide,I'll ask for 1 and I'll pay him of course.
Unique Suggestions: Never show you'r interested and keep it short!
They are masters in pretending to give you tourist free information of their pride called Angkor.
In Cambodia nothing is for free !
Fun Alternatives: Several possibilities:
1 polite : "Thank you I know allready"
2 mistake : " I have no money"
3 hillarious: " I don't speeka theee english"
4 mature : "Not interested thank you !"
5 firm : "I said NOT INTERESTED !!!"
6 sneeky : don't answer and go your own way .
Kids on the Job
The children of Siem Reap only spend half a day at school, the other half is spent helping out with the family business or chores. If your family business happens to be selling things to tourists then that's what they do to.
This group followed us the whole time and kept us company. They were a very funny bunch. The saddest thing was there was one little boy who was deaf and was completely frustrated he couldn't communicate- he ended up in tears.
Unique Suggestions: Take all sorts of small items that you can give away - stamps from home, pennies, even pens and pencils make them happy. It doesn't take much.
- Budget Travel
A very accomodating pimp
Me and my new friends came out of a restaurant late at night and I parted with them and started walking back to my guest house from the Old Market.
After realizing that they weren't getting any business from us, the drivers outside were somewhat disappointed. One of them, however, did not give up, and started following me and offered me services.
He asked, "Do you want girl massage?", I replied "No, thank you." and kept on walking.
Maybe I was not being firm, but he took it as that I probably was interested in more intimate service. "Do you want a girl?" he tempted me again.
Tough a little shocked, I turned down his offer once again with a smile.
So he made his final attempt ...
"Do you want a boy?"
At that last note. I once again thanked him for the offer and sped up my pace before he was going to offer me some barn animals....
Unique Suggestions: Siem Reap is actually quite safe during the day or the night. The touts here are just trying to make a couple more bucks at the end of the day. They don't want to cause any trouble.
Just be polite and firm to them and you can still enjoy your trip and laugh it all off.
Don't Wait Too Long
While you are enjoying the many sites at Angkor you will see lots of children trying to sell their goods. Scarfs is one of the main products. The scarfs have all different colors and that makes you think about which one you should take. There's your trap! Before you can see where they come from, there is whole groep of kids trying to sell you their scarfs...now you don't only have to choose which color, but also which kid to buy it from.
- Budget Travel
I'll be back!!!
Never tell those kids who are trying to sell you thing that "You be back". Because their always there & upon return they will demand you to buy their stuffs because you said "You'll be back & will buy from them".
I don't know.... that's how they interpreted mine!!
Unique Suggestions: Just smile at them ;-)
Fun Alternatives: You may jokingly & offer to sell back stuffs you've purchased from other kids.
Tell them you have only last item & its very rare that they aught to have it.
Custom officer and his taxi driver brother
After finding that I was traveling alone, I think, the custom officer at the airport kindly asked me if I wouldn't mind letting his brother who is a taxi driver take me to my guest house.
I was somewhat in an awkward position. The officer had my passport and I really did not want to offend him by turning down his offer. Yet, I really did not want to let someone drive me to some guest house run by his "other brother".
Fun Alternatives: Arrange a pick up before you arrive.
Or you can tell the officer that your guest house had sent a driver to pick you up. Then, outside of the airport, where a bunch of drivers waving at you, you can take your time to pick one who impress you the most with his manner and language skills.
Of course, he may have another brother who happens to be running a guest house....
At least you can pick your driver by yourself.
Temple Kids, Good Or Bad?
There are mixed views on the temple kids. Nuisance? Well maybe, if you ignore them they will soon lose interest as all kids love attention and even kids can only be so persistent. On a couple of occasions there was a kid in the right place at the right time for me when my tongue felt like a sheet of sandpaper I was so thirsty and they even take the can away for you. Another time I bought a really cheap shirt and after I got home I realised I loved the design and wore it throughout the summer
- National/State Park
- Arts and Culture
Tonle Sap Lake
The only disappointing trip for me was the morning I went on the lake. I was suffering from temple burn out and needed to relax and do something different. I have always liked being on the water but soon after I stepped aboard the boat I realised that there was not much really to see. After pointing out some of the fishing communities I was taken to every floating shop on the lake although one did have a nice deck on top where I enjoyed a drink and nobody tried to sell me anything
- Arts and Culture
- Sailing and Boating
It seems to be common practice (by some guest houses, guides, etc.) to sell used tickets to the tourists. The people are told that the tickets will be with the driver, and the driver will take you into the complex. This could be the end of the story, unless you will meet someone checking on you. If caught, pentalties are quite high. Besides, the money spent on these already used tickets will certainly not help restoring the ruins.
"Tour guides" at the temples
If you are traveling on a budget, avoid the child tour guides at the temples. Each temple has several children who will follow you around and tell you about the temple even if you don't even acknowledge that the kids are there. As you are leaving the temple, they always ask for money, usually US$2 or 3 (this might not sound like a lot until you realize it's 1/2 a nights lodging or an entire meal--for them more than a day's pay!)!!! After one or two of these encounters, I began sitting down as soon as a kid came up to me. Eventually he would get bored and pester the next tourist that came along.
Fun Alternatives: Be polite, but forceful and tell them no!
When a guide is not a guide
As people have pointed out, if some stranger approaches you to be your guide, you'd best just move along.
Our guide was arranged by our hotel, and was waiting for us there in the morning. He had the uniform, but it wasn't until a little later that we got suspicious. First off, his English was terrible. (Yes, of course it was better than my Khmer, but all the official guides are quite fluent in other languages. ) He had very little to say, and his descriptions were the bare minimum, as in, "This North gate. That West gate. That East gate..." All the while, we'd listen as other guides walked around with people being very animated, funny, and knowledgable, as well as being extremely proficient in English, German, French, or whatever other language they were speaking. They all had name tags and a big glossy phot ID, which our guy didn't have.
After an hour or so, we called him on it.
"Uh, we noticed that all the other guides have ID badges and nametags"
"Oh, um, I forgot at home"
"Are you sure you're an official guide (of course we knew by then he wasn't)?"
"Uh, um, sorry, I no feel good. I must go toilet."
At which point he went running down to a nearby toilet. When he returned, we gave him some money and told him we'd no longer require his services.
The moral is; Make sure your official guide is indeed an official guide.
Phnom Bakheng - Sunset
The sunsets from Phnom Bakheng are supposed to be the best in Angkor Wat. My first sunset was cloudy, but my second was very beautiful. Even more entertaining than the sunset, however, is the mass of people that flock here to watch the sun. It seems like every tourist in Cambodia has joined you on this hill at this very minute.
Unfortunately the sunset has become a fixed stop for most package tours, so after hours upon hours of solitude while exploring hidden temples deep in the forest jungle, you end up here and it feels like a shopping mall back home...but with better views!
Fun Alternatives: Maybe Angkor Wat at sunset is a little better...I'd love to see the front glowing in the light of the setting sun, especially over water in the wet season.