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Siem Reap – The Gateway To Ancient Angkor


Monk in front of Angkor Wat, Siem Reap

The trip to here from Phnom Penh was absolutely unspectacular: flat countryside, lots of it uncultivated, palm and banana trees and houses built on stilts. The rice paddies that we passed were not planted yet. This was a clear sign that the rainy season still not really started in this part of Cambodia.

The only surprise was our arrival in Siem Reap, after we thought we had seen it all! Ten minutes before we pulled into the bus station, the manager of the bus company came on board and told the astonished passengers that they should all gather in the office of his company and wait for the luggage to be delivered to them. Then, those who had no pickup arranged would be taken to their accommodation for free (!!!) by Tuk Tuk. This was for our safety and convenience, because once the bus stopped there would be so many Tuk Tuk drivers competing over the arriving newcomers.

What really happened was: the Tuk Tuk drivers were extremely civilized, some holding up placards promising “I won’t hassle you”. Others said “free pick up” or quoted a price ridiculously low. So we knew we were in for some new. Young men in blue shirts, identifying them as company employees, schlepped the luggage around and guided us to a Tuk Tuk, THEIRS.

Then the usual polite questions and you had a Tuk Tuk for the next few days taking you to the monuments around Siem Reap. Not that we are critical of this arrangement, it is quite clever. The reason we mention it is because we had never seen that scheme before.

In Siem Reap, you find any accommodation thinkable, starting from a few dollars to open end. All major hotel chains are presented here and many, many new hotels are under construction. This is also true for the restaurants scene, of course.

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