These blind guys gave me one of the best massages I have ever got. The centre is very small and usually emprty :-(, it employes only blind men and women and part of their income finances projects for blind people.Their massage tecnique is called Anma & Shiatsu, I tried shiatsu other times and it is quite hurting at first, this did not happen this time, great sensation during and after the massage.One hour massage costs 3 dollars, really an incredible value for what you get, try to bring in 3 dollars or the money you want to give them, as, they obviously have problems in counting the change.
Colorful market in the middle of the main restaurant and bar district, occupying a whole block close to the river. Here you will find plenty of squatting women selling all kinds of goods, like fish (freshly beheaded and scaled - not a sight for the faint-at-heart), fruit, vegetables and flowers, meats (not for every nose and eye either...), dried goods (for example shrimp and cuttle fish), as well as the typical tourist goods in more regular stalls.
It is worth hanging out there for an hour or so and (discreetly) taking pictures of the locals' life.
The dried fish for sale at this stand was quite interesting: The fish is apparently sliced open and fileted, oftentimes without completely severing the filets at the top and the tail ends, and is left to dry after after being arranged to a peculiar and intricate shape where the filets describe several bows kept together only by the tail and some part in the front. Looks really artsy.
You also see all kinds and colors of dried shrimp which are used, e.g., for delicious green papaya or mango salads
Fishmongers occupy one aisle of the market and offer particularly interesting sights:
Tonle Sap, the lake near Siem Reab, is full with fresh water fish, and it shows in the offerings of the market here: dried (see pix above) and fresh fish wherever you look. You can watch the squatting market women stoically butcher the live fish by chopping off the heads and letting the fish twitch and turn until it is finally dead. Not a pretty sight for animal lovers or the faint-at-heart, but such are the customs and a fish is not pet here.
The displays of fruit and vegetables is really mouth-watering for me, coming from a place where at least supermarket fruit and veggies are often times a pitiable sight. The sheer abundance here is a real treat, not to mention piles of rather (for me) out of the way produce such as banana flowers (used for salads, similar taste as endives) and green mango (used as a snack with chile or in salads with peanuts and spicy sauce).
Flowers seem to play a big role in Cambodian culture (and probably in Buddhism as a whole). For a relatively poor country you see a surprising number of people carrying a flower bouquet. Maybe it isnt considered such a luxury here; it certainly is a nice trait. Much of the flowers seems to be (white, green or pink) lotus used in temple service but there is plenty of other flowers available in the market, too.
Orchid blossoms can be found everywhere as well, decorating altars, tables and even your drink.
If you are planning on visiting Angkor Wat while you are in Siem Reap, and face it, why else would you be here, be sure to come prepared. In order to visit the temples you will need to purchase a pass. There are three types of passes to Angkor Wat available: 1 day for $20 US, 3 consecutive days for $40 US or 7 consecutive days for $60 US. You will need to purchase this pass if you are planning to visit any of the temples. They are diligent about checking people’s passes at the major temples and will charge a fine if you are caught without a pass.
You will also need to provide a passport photo for the Angkor pass so make sure you bring one with you to avoid any troubles. The process is simple and takes very little time. The ticket booths are easily accessed on the main road into Angkor. Join the que, pay your fee, hand over your passport photo and your Angkor pass should be read in a matter of minutes. If you forget your passport photo they will take a Polaroid of you on site. Ticket booths are open from 5 am to 6 pm daily.
We visited in the off-season (as if there is an off season here!) so the lines in the morning were a breeze. If you are concerned about lines you can purchase tickets for the following day after 5 pm but the lines at 5 am weren’t bad at all. And if you hire your own driver for the day he will wait for you through the process.
Here you see the fishmongers actually going about their business butchering the fish. Lots of the fish seems to be brought to the market alive and is on display in flat metal basins.
The fish ladies kill the fish by chopping the heads, but they dont seem to wait for a particular customer to pick a fish and then kill it. You can make out some chopped off heads on the pic. I guess they are used for soup stock or something else, at least it didnt look like they would be discarded.
It was quite pleasant, if a bit hot, to wander around the small river that runs through the centre of Siem Reap. Quite a few trees line the river, so the area is quite attractive, and there's the odd bench to sit on as well. You'll probably want to take some water with you - even a shortish walk in the heat can be thirsty work.
All the Angkor temples are worth the visit, but if you have to choose just 2, then go to Angkor Wat and the Bayon!
Angkor Wat is the first temple you will visit, as it is the closest to SR. To get there, you can simply rent a bike (30 minutes) or hire a moto with driver, who will make you a special price for the whole day (about 6 USD) visiting several temples.
For the tickets, stop at a little white house you will find at the right on the road there (there are signs) and buy a 1-2-3 days pass.
More details in my Angkor page.
This is the other temple you shouldn't miss when U visit SR. It is located inside the Angkor Thom complex (ancient royal palace and temples), a bit further than the Angkor Wat.
Square shaped, it has different levels. At the first, U can see walls and some carvings and reliefs on them, depicting everyday scenes, war, court scenes...
At the 3rd tou can see the towers with 4 huge faces (see pic) on them that are so characteristic from Bayon.
This bustling central market offers a wide variety of souvenirs, general stores and restaurants. It deserves a visit for its ambiance and narrow alleys, even if you are not gonna buy anything.
It is a town's landmark, often used to refer to an address or to meet in a place you can ask for to anyone.
Souvenirs are in the section of the market that faces the river, restaurants (cheap local stalls) in the opposite.
A greenery park in the down town of Siem Reap. This Royal Crusade for Independence Garden remind me with Taman Suropati at Menteng, Jakarta (see my Jakarta page), Indonesia. Because the views is so similar, also the locations of the buildings around its garden. The position of Grand d'Angkor Hotel just like the residence of the US Ambassador at Menteng, meanwhile the Royal Residence quite similar with Bappenas building. What a nice coincidence, I feel homy here!
Where's the "heart" of Siem Reap? For myself, I address this to a pond with 4 guardian lions in the centre of Royal Independence Garden. You can see 4 directions from this zero point easily: Grand d' Angkor Hotel, Royal Residence, the old bridge and Wat Preah Ang.
An old bridge which connected National Route Nr 6 nearby Royal Residence and Royal Garden to Kampong Thom Province. Rebuild at 1928.
At Siem Reap River, we can find the locals take a bath or washing clothes. And in the ancient of centuries, this river was used to float off the stones from the north, in order to build the Angkors. You can find 4 holes about 10 cm depth in the edge of the stones, indicates these stones were drifted away from the north to the south (Angkor area) and the workers took them from the river using bamboo which put into the holes.