The Tuc-Tuc drivers are just as bad as in Bangkok. One taken me for a 15 minute drive then dropped me off only about 150 yards from where I started then tryed to get more money off me even though I had given him a map with the place I was staying at circled on it!!!!
Always be aware of your handbag, backpacks, cameras, mobile phones etc.
Especially if you are travelling in a cyclo, hold on to your belongings tightly, wrap you handbag strap a couple of times around your wrist.
If a bike pulls up alongside you with 2 guys on it, chances are the passenger is checking out what you have he can easily grab.
We met a lady who on her first day in Phnom Penh was warned about this but obviously took no notice. Her bag was snatched, she had over $1,000. her camera documents etc in it. DONT CARRY large amounts of money with you.
This warning applys really to wherever you are, I take care with all my belongings whether I am overseas or at home as it can happen anywhere.
The steps are huge and hard to climb, you have to watch out and make your way up the steps. It is a hard and tiring climbs but it was worth it.
Be extra careful when its raining the steps are slippery.
The kids will beg for money, understandably as their families are poor. However, giving them money may cause them to be professional beggers. Instead, how about bringing items such as crayons, pencils, sweets, erasers, etc - stuff that they can use at home or in school? They'll happily accept these!
We each changed $100 into riel thinking that we needed local money for food and shopping but that was a big mistake. All the establishments we went to and even the little girls selling postcards wanted $'s. They'd take riel but with the confusion of computing the exchange rate, you're much better off just having small dollar bills. They'd give you dollars for change, too.
My cellphone fell out of my pocket while I was taking pictures of Angkor Wat at sunrise. Since I was sitting on the grass, I didn't even hear it drop. An hour later, my friends, who were at the hotel called the driver of my rental car and asked to speak to me. In a roundabout way, they found out I had lost my phone even before I did.
How roundabout? Well, first someone picked up my phone on the ground and called the last number I dialled. The phone call was placed to my home in Maine and the person calling didn't speak english. After some confusion, the person who answered in Maine, asked to speak to someone who spoke english and the phone was handed to a British lady who explained to a worried sick family member (who thought I got abducted and ended up in Cambodia) that I must have dropped my phone while I was too busy watching the sunrise. The lady said she'd leave the phone at the ticket office near Angkor Wat so I could go pick it up there.
To make a long story short, I went, and kept calling my phone hoping someone would pick it up and tell me exactly where i can get it and I ended up at the police station to file a complaint but never found the phone.
I had this feeling that I was being given the runaround. I was told to wait at the police station while they go looking for my phone when I really felt I should have been with them helping them look. I was so upset but they insisted I sit there and do nothing.
It wasn't the price of the phone that mattered to me. It wasn't even the inconvenience of losing the sim card and having to worry about disconnecting. It was the disappointment from knowing someone had it and didn't give it back.
Bottom line is, in spite of all the photos posted by the police of people who got their cameras and passports back, I was one of the unlucky ones who didn't and, to quote wise words from my driver, "You should wear pants with deeper pockets!".
I just felt bad because I've never lost anything in all of the years I've been going places. I guess there's always a first time, huh?
More than one million visitors in a year come to Siem Rap to visit the Angkor temples. This amount is increasing fast. The visitors come from all over the world, but the majority of visitors are from Asia. Especially the visitors from Japan, South Korea and China are the growing market.
In november we came at the start of the tourist season. I was surprised to see the traffic jam at the south gate of Angkor Thom arriving in the morning. Minibuses, private cars, tuktuks, motos, elephants, pedestrians, all tried to pass the gate at almost the same time.
When we visited the bas-reliefs of the Bayon (Angkor Thom) at the time of the best sunlight, we coudn't see hardly the reliefs because of the many visitors. For making a picture of the reliefs or the temples you have to be very patient to have not to many people at your picture. So I decided to make pictures with people or .... even with lots of people.
If you have enough time, you can try to visit the temples at other times than most visitors do. Friends told me that they manage to do so.
I wouldn't call it a danger, but rather an annoyance.
A lot of land mine victims are begging around in Siem Reap even late in the evening. Unfortunately begging is probably their only option to earn money and live. Some others somehow like the Angkor Association for the Disabled play music and sell CDs (it's worth supporting them) or selling books on the street.
A second annoyance is that numerous tuk-tuk drivers approach you to offer their service. Either smile and say "NO" or pick up someone you like to drive you back home!
Whenever travelling in a country like Cambodia, it is vital that you carry tissues and moist wipes - preferably anti bacterial.
Some people carry a toilet roll, but I think that's totally unnecessary. Take a wad of tissues, or a soft-pack (what I carry). Wet wipes are available in the same soft packs which are travel sized and are great for cleaning your hands and just generally handy . If you cannot find regular wipes, look in the baby section of your supermarket for baby wipes.
With the amount of food poisoning that happens in Cambodia, it is extremely important to be prepared.
The toilets are abysmal at the complex. They cost 500 riel to use, so ensure you have change. The toilet next to the one pictured was actually much worse - too bad to take a picture of. This one did not flush.
When you visit the temples at Angkor you will find that many of them have very narrow, steep and treacherous steps. I wore slip-on shoes with a rubber sole and was perfectly comfortable with those as I can't stand joggers. Not only do they make my feet burn, I find they're so bulky that I can often kick the toe of them (which might not be too safe in a situation like this one). Just take a look at the picture and bear in mind what you would feel safest and best with.
You have to climb up and down these steps sideways as your foot won't fit on the step as you can see here.
Watch out for everything you buy or pay for in Cambodia. It is very much like China in that you cannot trust what the majority of people say. Everything comes at an inflated price. Try to find out values of things or services you will be buying or using before you get there.
We found Cambodia to be surprisingly expensive. It may be a third world country, but many prices were comparable to Australia, such as fuel. You will have to take this into consideration for some things when bargaining as it's not as cheap as some other Asian countries.
You wonder how the indigent people can ever survive here.
Whilst visiting Angkor Wat, I chose to make an offering of incense and money. I didn't have any small change left, so I gave 100 baht.
I had walked around more of the temple and on my way back out a man started harassing me to make an offering. I kept trying to make him understand that I had already made an offering but he wouldn't believe me and kept pushing. I went to the offering plate and looked for the 100 baht to show him, but it was missing, so I'd say this is just another scam. He had already collected the money.
My advice is to ensure you have small denominations of riel on you when you visit Angkor for books, beggars, drinks and offerings.
I know when you visit a new country, most people want to jump in and eat or drink the local cuisine. I am one of those people too-who loves street food. But when you travel to countries like Cambodia-you have to be very careful. The water in Siem Reap and Phnom Pehn isn't clean. Most large hotels will have their own water filtration systems or otherwise they will put bottled water in your room, so you can brush your teeth. Avoid ice, fruit without peel, vegetables that aren't cooked well or meat that looks undone or has been sitting around. Mostly it's common sense.
Also, Cambodia does have Malaria. Before you visit this country you should have the following vaccines/prescriptions. They aren't required, but the medical system in Cambodia is very poor and you will be quite thankful you have them. (Only Yellow Fever is required, but only if you are coming from a YFever infected area):
-heps A and B
You may want to have medical insurance, since the hospitals are very poor. If you are taking children to Cambodia, you definately need to have medical insurance. Most plans will offer or include emergency flights to Bangkok for medical treatment.
Just don't do what my husband is doing in the photo.
Cambodia is a heavily mined and bombed country. Now the country is in a peaceful state, but these unexploded ordinances or UXO are still causing harm. These UXO take the shape of unused bombs, cluster bomblets, artillery and mortar shells, landmines, rockets, grenades, etc.
Cambodian and foriegn agencies are clearing the land looking for UXO, but it will take decades to fully clear the land. As of now, it's really unsafe for you to walk or go trekking in areas that aren't a well worn path. Areas that have not be cleared are usually marked with a red skull and bones symbol. Be cautious and careful. Also, it's important not to buy unused weapons from vendors. You would be amazed that people do sell this stuff.
There are several warnings with regard to tuk tuks. We used a tuk tuk one day and paid $3.00 to get to the Royal Palace (I know it was more than it should have been). The driver took us a slightly different route on the way back to the hotel then charged us $5.00. It was only a short drive and certainly only worth the same as the trip there. It's not much money, but it's the feeling of being ripped off that I hate. It was our constant companion in Cambodia.
The very bumpy, pothole-filled roads would make for a very uncomfortable ride. It's ok on city streets, but if you head out to somewhere like the Killing Fields, the roads are atrocious.
Cambodia is a great dust-bowl. As you drive along the dirt roads, at times there is so much dust that you can barely see the vehicle in front of you. If you have sensitive eyes, make sure you have eyedrops at hand.
Thick plumes of black exhaust also cloud the view if you're driving near a heavy vehicle. If you get affected by fumes such as these, it could be advisable to take a dust mask with you.
Another warning about the tuk tuks is to be careful of your belongings. Young boys will run up and snatch whatever they can reach.
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