Steep climb for Sunset
The popular "Sunset Hill" which everyone eludes to though beautiful is a very steep climb, made doubly difficult by the roots, rocks and human obstacles lining the way.
This is where we were first introduced to the begging in Cambodia. They congregate here along it's steep path. Just about everywhere you stop to catch your breath, you're swarmed by people wanting money or selling trinkets.
Be aware that, once on top, you never ACTUALLY get to see a sunset. The guards will kick you out before the sun sets due to the perilous climb back down which you would have to do in the dark.
An easier option may be the Elephants to the hilltop. All in all, we enjoyed our time there but, there are so many nicer places in Angkor...
Intimidating Police in Temples
At some temples you may encounter a Police officer flashing a badge in your face.
It happens quite suddenly, our initial reaction was that he was trying to stop us for a violation of some sort....
The police officer then stuck his hand out and asked for "dollar". We realized he was begging and walked around him but he was quite persistent.
WALK AWAY, ignore him. Another tourist we ran into later actually was scared enough by the cop to opt walking through the outside of the temple on his way back to the main entrance.
Camera, Purse Snatching, and Avian Flu
I speak only for Siem Reap, and unfortunately there are now many instances of camera snatching from cyclists who are still on the roads at dusk and after dark. Also tourists in the local market and the “Old Market” in Siem Reap are vulnerable to both camera and purse snatching. I was advised by my driver to wear a vest when visiting the markets and keep “valuables” in pockets rather than carry them in sight of everyone; while a vest was uncomfortable in the heat it presented less temptation to the few unscrupulous individuals in the markets. Another thing to be wary of in the local market, is that it is very easy to step on live chickens which are for sale there. With reported cases of bird flu (although collection of data in Cambodia is difficult) infected birds shed influenza virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces so “tread cautiously.”
Beggars in Phnom Penh
At the Sisowath Quay where most hotels are situated, there were many young beggars along the quay side. Sometimes they could make your irritable. It seemed to me that they were from some syndicate or something of that sort.
Once, when walking along the river side, a group of them, pushed a wheelchaired kid and a stretcher with a kid, following me, blocking my way, etc. I pity them, not because they were poor and need to resort to begging, but the society had moved so fast that they could not live like the kids in the rural parts of Cambodia. What would they have become when they grow older? I wonder.
I hope the Cambodia government and seriously look into helping this group of Cambodia kids.
P/S: I was seated outside a restuarnt on the pathway in the evening and these young beggars were asking for food and gifts as I was eating. It became so annoying that I need to get the restaurant people to chase them away so that I could have my meal peacefully.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Steep Crumbly Steps or Staircase
Ensure that shoes with good and proper grips are worn when going about the temples in the angkor valley...
The steps are usually very steep as it was the belief that mortals should not be able to reach the gods so easily, and after centuries, most are crumbling or in dire need of repair...Related to:
Siem Reap Airport
My first impression on arriving at the airport at Siem Reap was very negative. The people at the visa issue desks were austere and intimidating; however, I managed to stay composed despite one of immigration officers literally throwing my “landing card” back across the desk at me because I had accidentally presented it to him with my passport and visa application. Being treated so badly, I actually felt afraid and felt that I had made a mistake in coming to Cambodia. But once outside the airport I stepped into a world of beauty and intrigue, where the people were welcoming, warm, and kind.
Don’t show irritation at the airport when you arrive, stay cool and simply get through the immigration process.
Prostitution is very common throughout Asia, specially targeted are the single men who will readily be approached by TukTuk drivers, Taxi drivers or, the girls themselves.
When walking down the street, don't be surprised when the Tuk Tuk drivers call out to you and yell: "Haloooo, Mr....want girl?"
They will have a "notebook" - often with pictures and a convinient cellphone with which to make a date for you. Please gentlemen, the Cambodian people do not need this kind of exploitation. Also, disease is rampant throughout Asia. Be responsible and respectful. Smile, say 'NO THANK YOU" and walk on by.
Touts at the Thai border
In Poipet, the first village you enter in Cambodia from Thailand, you will be hussled and pushed by local touts, members of the local transport mafia, asking you to go to their cars.
Act as if they didn't exist at all. Try to talk directly to the driver. He will have to pay a comission to them anyway, but at least you will be the one that choses. Don't pay a single coin to those touts, just pay to the driver and, as a rule:
DON'T PAY TILL YOU GET TO YOUR DESTINATIONRelated to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
If you take the trip by overland, beware about monsoon periods. The wind from Indian Ocean (summertime) or Pacific Ocean (wintertime) will make your trip disturbed by rain. And you will find muddy roads (from Sisophon to Siem reap and vice-versa) and the worse is flooding plus several unpredictable condition. As my own experience about the trouble on the bridge in the middle of Sisophon and Siem Reap.Related to:
- Road Trip
Irregular staircases !!!
Please be extra careful when you're climbing staircases of temple mountain such as Ta Keo, Phnom Bakheng, Phimeanakas & Angkor Wat.
The staircases are either irregularly built or too much wear & tear after all these years. Especially dangerous if your hands are not free to hold on railing or your hand is occupied with camera & drinking water.Related to:
Land Mines, not Gold Mine
There are millions of active land mines in Cambodia. Thanks to Khmer Rouge & Cambodia's government for planting them during the civil war period.
Limit your activities to regular tourist tracks & trails only. You transport guy will be your best bet for safe tour in Cambodia.
P/s: Can somebody do me a big favor of getting one of those "Beware Land Mines" red plastic souvenir warning sign from War Museum. Will be useful for my store room. (to keep ppl out).
May be I should consider a "Warning!! Landslide" sign in the room too. Will get one from the freeway.Related to:
Beware slippery steps!
If you visit the temples during the rainy season, be careful when climbing up and down. The steps use to be narrow and very high, so when the floor is wet, you can easily slip and fall... and is a long way down if you are at the top!!Related to:
- Historical Travel
Be Clear with Moto Drivers
I've said it elsewhere also but I feel that a good moto driver can make or break your trip to Cambodia. If you strike up a good relationship they will make yours really enjoyable.
In Siem Reap I thought I had a good moto driver and arranged for him to take me to the temples for the three days of my pass. In hindsight I realise that I let him call the shots a little too much. From Banteay Srei I wanted to go to Kbal Spean. He kept banging on about how it was too far and not that great. I was on understanding that I'd negotied a fee for his services for the day and we went wherever I wanted to go (within reason). I also noticed he kept looking at his watch. Later he let slip that he needed to pick-up his wife.
Anyway, it left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth as I missed out on something I would like to have seen. My advice would be that if you book a moto driver for the following day, be very clear on where you want to go and what you want to see. If you intend to go back for your guesthouse for a break during the day then let him know that too. That way there will be no misunderstandings.
CHILD PROSTITUTION – REPORT IT !
Unfortunately the scourge of child prostitution is all too real here in Cambodia. After Thailand cracked down on this in recent years the predators moved on to Cambodia and Vietnam. Some poor families actively allow children to take part in this sick trade because it does generate money. Many organisations are working now within the country to change this in many ways. The first photo is that of a sign in a men’s toilet with telephone numbers you can ring. Paedophilia is a crime in Cambodia and the authorities do imprison offenders. Child sex tourists are both Western and Asian. Also the USA, UK, Germany, Australia and France will prosecute anyone having under-age sex when they return home. If you feel someone is acting suspiciously there are several telephone numbers you can ring below. You can also ask your hotel or hostel to summon the police. You can also report a foreign national to their embassy in Phnom Penh and/or report it via email.
Cambodia Hotline: 023-720555 or 023 997 919
ChildSafe Hotline (confidential): 012-296609; www.childsafe-cambodia.org
And an international organisation fighting this crime across the globe:
End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (Ecpat): www.ecpat.org
*** SAVE THIS TIP ***
Save this and print it off if you are planning a trip to Cambodia. You may save a child from a life of misery.Related to:
- Work Abroad
Land mines and unexploded ordnance can be found in rural areas throughout Cambodia, but especially in Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Pursat, Siem Reap, and Kampong Thom provinces.
At no time should you walk in forested areas or in dry rice paddies without a local guide. Areas around small bridges on secondary roads are particularly dangerous.
If you observe anything that resembles a mine or unexploded ordnance you should not touch it, notify the Cambodia Mine Action Center at telephone 023-368-841/981-083 or 084.
The drawing on the left is made by a kid from Thailand, it can be viewed with more drawings by clicking on the link below.
National Road No 1
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