Snake Wines are found all across Indochina and here in Cambodia is no different.
Snake wine is usually found in vats, with rice wine poured in over the body of a snake and left to ferment for some weeks. It is supposed to have medicinal qualities, such as disinfecting cuts and killing lurking bugs after meals, but its social use is predominant. It is found in every self-respecting bar in Vietnam, with smaller bottles kept at home. Most spectacular vats have seven or eight large snakes coiled in the base, and become increasingly dangerous to lift as the drinking goes on.
The snakes, preferably venomous ones, are usually not preserved for their meat. They are preserved to have the snake poison dissolved in the liquor. However, because snake venoms are protein-based, they are unfolded and therefore inactivated due to the influence of the denaturing effects of ethanol.
There are two varieties of snake wine. A large venomous snake can be placed into a glass jar of rice wine, often with many smaller snakes, turtles, insects, or birds, and left to ferment for many months. Snake blood wine is prepared by slicing a snake along its belly and draining its blood into a mixing vat with rice wine or grain alcohol. The gall bladder can be emptied into glasses with wine and the snake meat, liver, and skin can be prepared to accompany the drink.
Snakes are widely believed to possess medicinal qualities and the wine is often advertised to cure everything from farsightedness to hair loss, as well as to increase sexual performance. However, these claims should not all be taken literally as many are likely exaggerated to attract buyers.
Unique Suggestions: don't buy it if you don't like it
a small wine will cost $ 6 and a big bottle will cost $ 12
Fun Alternatives: none, just don;t buy it. hehehe
Cambodia is still a developing Country and was ravaged by the Vietnam war and the Pol pot Genocide in the 1970's and still has scars of those traumatic years where almost 1/4 of the population were wiped out. Due to this, povery is prevalent in Cambodia and it has one of the lowest per capita income in the world that is why the "world's oldest profession" is prevalent in Cambodia, particularly in Siem Reap. Pub Street maybe notorious for what they call "taxi ladies" and ladyboys but if you are of the private type, tuk tuk drivers will take you here at Top Town Night Club, a few kilometers away from pub street. It is the biggest club off the Main Tourist Area and is a favorite of locals and tourists alike.
This is where locals go to have fun too!
Unique Suggestions: Top Town is located 100 meters away from National Road 6 and once inside you would see a big lounge and there is a "mama san" with more than 30 cambodian and vietnamese lilies around. tthe mama san will let you pick a lily and you either spend 1 hour with her at the karaoke room singing and ordering ladies drinks and food for 1 hour or right away pay a bar fine to take the lily out to the nearby motel, with you riding a tuk tuk and them riding a moto. they don't allow cameras inside.
they will charge you $ 60 to 80 for 1 whole night of "fun" if you're a foreigner and just $ 25 if a local and the tuk tuk driver will have his commision.
Fun Alternatives: none, unless you control your carnal desires!
remember the term "boom boom" and "yum yum" and any tuk tuk driver will understand this and take you there.
Address is : Top Town Night Club
Sala Kanseng Village, Sangkat Svay Dangkum, Siem Reap City, Siem Reap
Mobile Phone 012 888 012
Mobile Phone 097 8880 125
If you arrange your Angkor Wat visit with a local guide, he is likely to take you to some touristic shops located around Siem Reap. The guides bring tourists to these huge shops so that they can get some commission from whatever you buy. If you compare the prices in these shops with local shops in old market and around, you will see how expensive these touristic shops are. Usually large tourist groups with shuttles are brought to these shops.
Unique Suggestions: Just look around and do some price search, but don't buy anything. You are most likely to find better deals in old market area.
This was a double-edged sword. We took a bus out to the Tonle Sap lake and jumped aboard a motor boat to go and see the floating village. It was amazing to see the river life going on around you. Little boats with small children came up alongside and the children jumped on board to sell you drinks etc. It was an awesome journey, however we stopped somewhere on the lake to visit a crocodile farm. As soon as we pulled up we were accosted by boats of women and children, the children had large snakes around their necks. I hate snakes and crocodiles and wish I had known this was part of the trip. As soon as you take a photo, you will be asked for money. At one point, a guy with a crocodile jumped in front of me, I turned around to get away and was surrounded by small children with snakes around their necks. I was freaking out. Everyone was pretty silent on the trip home.
Unique Suggestions: Take a deep breath and take it in your stride. If you don't like crocodiles or snakes, just don't go.
Commission scams that involve guesthouses and hotels paying moto and taxi drivers to deliver guests. We didn't really come up against this as we were on a tour.
Fun Alternatives: Pre-book transfers or go with the flow and negotiate with the hotel once you get there, if you haven't already booked.
With the hotel recommendation, we hired a tuk-tuk on the 1st day of our arrival to bring us to Angkor Wat at USD15 (very expensive!!!). We bought a 1-day pass with USD20, then set forth for the journey. It was alright for the 1st half of the day. After lunch, we were brought to Angkor Thom, and the driver was missing when we got back to the tuk-tuk area. We waited there for an hour, and decided to continue our journey with another tuk-tuk......
We were then had a "quarrel" with the tuk-tuk at hotel lobby, and settled at USD7 for his half work.
Unique Suggestions: Tuk-Tuk is very common there, in fact, it is very competitive. There is no need for one to hire the tuk tuk the whole day, but ONE-WAY, unless you are going to Tonle Sap.
Fun Alternatives: Cycling oneself??
this is truly a tourist trap, a commercail enterprise put up with someone and who has contracts with package tourists and tuk tuk drivers. I couldnt stand more than a few minutes there. the quality was not that good either. for silk i would go to somotea near the old market which has much more tastefully crafted stuff rather than this mass produced stuff here
Unique Suggestions: Just look around dont buy anything. Support little shops run by khmers or khmer/foreign owned ones.
Central Market, we bought a painting from a seemingly reputable shop, it was still a little wet, so the shop-keeper promised he would deliver it to our hotel, but never showed up....We gave him directions, a map, and hotel phone number...he promised he would deliver but didn't come. We had to catch a flight so we couldn't go back...
Be careful, pay on delivery...or just cash and carry-maybe that's best
This is not a reflection of all vendors, but something one should be aware of what might happen.
Going up the stairs is one of the greatest accomplishments done inside Angkor Wat. The problem lies in going down. The stairs is very steep and the spacing between the steps is smaller than the usual foot size. Even with the hand rails, one could easily slip if one is not careful.
Unique Suggestions: Be sure that you are not prone to dizziness. Going down the stairs with that condition is nearly impossible. Have a good grip. Placing your bag closely to your body (and not let it go dangling) would help. From experience, it is easier to go down facing the front than doing it on backward steps.
there are a lot of shops selling "Cambodian Silk", there are all selling at usd 0.5 -usd 2. They have a Tag on it written "CAMBODIAN SILK - MADE in Cambodia" on the scarf. I realised there are not cambodian silk after i went to the Silk Farm. all the "Cambodian Silk" selling in the market are all cotton from thailand or china.
Unique Suggestions: You don't need to do anything if you see this, as the price is really low. its just for your info.
During discussions with other guests at the second guesthouse we stayed in in Siem Reap recently, we discovered that while we were paying US20 per night, they were being charged US$45, for virtually identical rooms - they had a bigger bathroom.
Unique Suggestions: If you have a prearranged driver, ask him if he has an "arrangement" (as ours did) with a guesthouse, and that the rate works in your favour. Don't be nervous about talking to other guests about what they are paying, and make a bee-line for the owner if you are getting a bum deal.
Fun Alternatives: If you have an idea of a guesthouse you want to target, either before or after you get to Siem Reap - check it out on VT - and ask other members about costs as well as general experiences.
First encounter was @ stalls outside Angkor Wat. We were looking for mineral water. The lady offered me one 500ml mineral water for USD2. We stunned for a while for such expensive price. Then she offered USD3 for 2 bottles. "No Profit...." she says.
Finally settled with USD3 for a carton!
This applies to all other things you would have buy from any free form vendors and stalls
Unique Suggestions: If you think the price is too expensive, just go next door. Dozens of similar stalls all over Angkor and town. Or ask your guide/driver to buy essentials for you. You'll be surprised of the price difference.
Sometimes you'll met some local who speaks decent foreign language waiting at temples and try to be friendly and offer their explainations. Normally they'll start with "Where do you come from?"
Of course they'll ask for tips after some 3mins of history. My friend gave them Rels amounting to about USD1++ for their 'kind assistance', and luckily they're happy with it.
Fun Alternatives: You may hire a private guide, read your books, or like my friends who had learnt his lesson, asnwer "I'm from Cambodia", haha!
Remember there's no free lunch in the world. So, when there's a guy who said to be a FREE tour guide in Angkor or Siem Reap and willing to show you around, simply say thanks and NO. All these TOUR Guides will eventually ask some tips from you after the tour if you take them.
We were amazed by the local living standards in Siem Reap - in the surrounding of a relatively small country town, with seemingly dozens of high class European hotels. Whilst these hotels must generate much local employment, the incomes of the locals are very meagre. Roughly US$10 per week, have been told. A bottle of water at the side of the road is typically US$1.
We asked to be taken to Camodian places, which our driver was happy to oblige with. When we went shopping for silk, also asked to be taken to a Cambodian co-op, rather than buying from the French controlled silk farm.
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