Wherever you go, you will be surrounded by children trying to sell picture postcards, books, t- shirts, scarves, paintings, wooden artefacts etc. at price range of US$1-2. They will talk to you in English and invariably, they will ask you where you are from. If you tell the name of the country, quickly they will tell you the name of the capital city of your country. They are basically trying everything to establish a communication link. Once they have established, the link, they will go on to persuade you to buy their stuff. They are too aggressive. If you dont show any interest or if you say you dont have time, they will ask you to buy their items while returning. If you say that you dont have change, they will arrange the change for you. It is very difficult to get rid of them. The best would be to say politely, 'No, thank you', and leave the place.
These kids are very persuasive in their styles. Nevertheless, once you indicate that you are not interested, they wont bother you.
My experience was different from lot of other incidents reported in the forum earlier. The kids were nice, always trying to attract your attention, but would never do any harm, or touch you. They are totally non violent and the best part is that they are always smiling.
Fondest memory: The smiling faces of these kids, even if they are unable to sell their goods to you, was most pleasing experience. I wish I could do something.
Such a short life, so much things to do.
Favorite thing: Apsara Authority is the Cambodia Govt body entrusted with the responsibility of taking care of the Temples. You will find this symbol in front of every temple, togather with the name of the temple, as shown in the photograph. They have a huge workforce. People in blue dress (cleaners) and brown dress (guards and guides) are found everywhere. The guards/guides are very helpful source of information. The guards will check your pass at the entrance of every temple.
I visited Siem Reap in Dec-Jan period and found the weather to be very pleasent. I was told by locals that during the summer time (Apr-Jun), the temperatures go to as high as 40 degC.
During Dec-Jan, the temperatures are in the range of 16 degC to 28 degC and you can rest assured about clear blue sky, which is vital for a good photography. The afternoons can be quite warm because of overhead sun and clear blue sky. Carry plenty of water to drink during this period.
Monsoons (July-Oct) are not a good time to visit Angkor, although those who are allergic to dust will find this time perfect. There is no problem of dust in monsoon or wet months and moreover, the temples are less crowded. The Tonle Sap takes the form of an ocean-it expands 10 folds in size and become a very rich source of fresh water fish, although the water is very muddy.
The peak tourist months are Dec-Jan, when the temples are swarming with visitors and there is not an inch to spare.
Favorite thing: Siem Reap is a very dusty town. If you are moving around in a tuktuk or motobike, make it a point to cover your face with a face mask. It is commonly available in any departmental store. I didnt buy it and as a result, had to use my handkerchif to cover my face. Some of the roads are not metalled and they are the worst if you are moving around in an open vehicle like tuktuk. I specially remember the 12 km road stretch from Banteay Srei to Kbal Spean. It was nothing short of a dirt track to hell. All the trees, houses etc around the road were covered in a layer of thick red color dust. I saw travelers struggling to keep themshelves free from dust but you just cant avoid it. The best would be to take a car (the omnipresent Toyota Camry for eg) which doesnt cost more than US$25 A DAY (add $10 for long distances like Banteay Srei, west mebon, Roulus group etc). Even the stretch of road from the Phnompenh Road to Preah Ko (in Roulus group of temples) is a similar dirt track road, although ther stretch is just around a KM.
The procedure is simple as has been described in these pages. Collect forms on plane. Fill them in. Join queue with forms, passport photograph and $20 in your hot sweaty hand. Watch the line of officials each fill in a line of your visa or apply a stamp. When your passport is returned to you inspect it closely because there is a pretty good chance that it isn't yours. Return to the desk and pick another passport from the handful offered by the official. Sounds chaotic but it is pretty quick.
On my last trip I forgot to bring a passport photograph. I asked the stewardess on the plane what I should do. "No problem, you'll get a photo for $1 on arrival" I couldnt see a photo booth so I approached the desk with some trepidation. "No photograph, that will be $2" bellowed the official. He pocketed the $2 and sent me on my way, still with no photograph and I successfully negotiated the rest of the process. This confirms my belief that the whole point of the exercise is to collect $20 with a little bonus if anyone is stupid enough to forget their photo!
Favorite thing: The currency of Cambodia is the Riel. It is not available on the open market. In Siem Reap, the de-facto currency is the US Dollar. Everyone charges in US$; everything are charged in US$. You may get your hand on some Riels eventually, especially after buying groceries from the local stores - and most tourists keep them as souvenirs!
All Foreign Visitors are now able to obtain the Cambodia visa upon arrival at the airport. It is no longer necessary to get the visa stamp at the Cambodian Embassy before your visit. Just prepare the following documents:
*A Passport Photocopy
*1 photos (3 x 4 cm)
* US$ 20 Cash for tourist visa fee (Paid directly to the Immigration)
The Cambodia Visa is issued officially at the following ports of entry:
Pochentong Airport in Phnompenh
Siemreap Airport (Angkor Wat Region)
Travelers can travel to/from Cambodia by land through Aranyapathet-Poipet Border and Trat-Koh Kong Border of Thailand and Moc Bai - Bavet Border of Vietnam
Cambodia Visa Validity: 30 days from the date of issue, *NOT* from the date of entry.
Travelers who would like to prolong their stay in Cambodia may extend their visa at the Department of Immigration situated just opposite the Pochentong Airport. The visa may be extended for 30 days at the cost of US$25.-
Some travelers have reported that the visa extension for another one month was no longer possible, since the middle of June 2000. If you expect to stay more than a month, better get a Business visa at one shot for US$25 with three months validity.
Visa-Free Travel Arrangement for Asean members (August 2000)
The Cambodian Government has unveiled visa-free travel arrangements with the following Asean countries: Brunei, Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia
(Singaporean and Indonesian are not exempted and required visa)
Favorite thing: The present flag with these colors arranged in horizontal bands, was officially adopted on October 29, 1948 until October 1970, then, once again, at the beginning of September 24, 1993, date of the reestablishment of the Monarchy. The central emblem represents the towers of Angkor Wat - Angkor being the only popular pronunciation of Norkor. Wat signifying Temple - seen from the front view. In the Khmer cosmonomy, the pedestal of the temple represents the Mount Meru, structure of the Universe, the top being the central sanctuary of Cambhu the kind lord creator of the world, divinity of predilection of the King founder. This symbol appears again on the coin which was struck around 1847, under the reign of Ang Duong and which was abolished under NORODOM. The King was the intercessor between the sky and the land, between the gods and men. Nowadays, the national flag reflects the trilogy of Nation, Religion and King, motto of the Khmer monarchy.
Favorite thing: Many Cambodian entrepreneurs are engaging in this emerging food business opportunity to cater for tourists’ requirement. Some of them actually convert their river side huts into fancy café, serving some authentic Cambodian cuisine.
I'm supposed to give some sound effects on the zooming done by my digital camera, but never mind on that.
They are taking bath & doing laundry in this river. My eyes almost filled with tears when I see such poverty with my own eyes.
Statistic reported average income per annum is USD 300. Most of them, monthly take home pay are just mere USD30, or lesser. Sometime we just lavish they monthly salary in an hour time. Guilty, guilty!!!
Average Cambodian will live & grow up with this kind of setting. Poverty is a norm to most households. I don't know whether these houses do not have piping facilities or they're try to save water bill.
I going to zoom into next picture to see some of the activities happening on this seem much polluted river.
One of the first steps I do, once in a new place, consists in visiting the local market.
That's the best way to get, all at once, a full immersion in local activites, colours, smell, tastes, sounds.This time the hotel I stayed in was really close to the market, so I enjoyed even more, as, I could go there walking.
Fondest memory: The market is a perfect place to have a meal or drink something and watching local life passing around.There is a part mostly used by locals where you find food, flowers and so on, and a more touristic part where you can find local crafts.
There are a few kinds of water in Cambodia. Big bottle water, those hard bottle like we usually see cost 2000r. Wheres those packing in bottle like what sold in Thailand 7-11 only cost 500r.
They usually will only show the expensive kind of water. So when u buy water, ask for 'cambodia water', that means 500r one.
The phone system in Siem Reap didn't seem too accessible to tourists; it was much easier to email home though, as there was an internet place right opposite my hotel! There are several places to get on the net in Siem Reap, but I paid a daily visit to this one - the Ecafe on Sivatha Boulevard - as it was so close. Reliable and fast connections, except when the power went off (the whole town seemed to be out for an hour). At $1.75 per hour, it didn't break the bank, either.
There's an online ad for this place at the www.talesofasia.com website.
One of the reasons you should take a boattrip to Phnom Penh, besides from bad roads in Cambodia, is what you will see along the way.
Traveling to the boat that would take us to Phnom Penh we past this village on the water. It was a gorgeous sight!