Monday, August 14, 2006

SIEM REAP 09Aug2006

For easy orientation:

Map of Cambodia
Map of Siem Reap

FIRST ~ Start of a Pilgrimage 090806

Departing KLIA on schedule, our AirAsia B737 plane soon passes over Kuala Lumpur, bound for Siem Reap (pronounced sim-rip), a 2-hour flight away across the South China Sea. Yes, a much-anticipated pilgrimage to the Angkor temples begins.

In Cambodia, crossing the enigmatic Tonle Sap, a huge freshwater lake, now much enlarged by the rainy season.

Water overflowing from the Tonle Sap provides for fertile rice-fields, and also protein-rich fishes to the people.

Approaching Runway 05 at Siem Reap (REP) airport.
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The Airport 090806

On the ground at REP at last. Our trusty 21-year-old B737, reg. 9M-AAP, covered with Lat's cartoons. The toilets smell a bit, unfortunately, like the ones in trains.

Finding our way to the new terminal, opened just a month back.

Just twelve minutes after exiting the plane, we are exiting the airport itself, with check-in baggage too. This is a great start!

Pleasant airport access road leading to National Highway 6 for the 15-min drive to Siem Reap town.
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Angkor Star 090806

We are putting up for 3 nights at the pleasant Angkor Star Hotel, in downtown Siem Reap, along high street. Definitely value-for-money.

Reception area, with the goofy chairs. Very unstable, easily tipped.
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The Town 090806

Lunchtime and it's time to hit town, or what is supposed to be downtown Siem Reap. Give another 3-5 years and this place is gonna be choked with cars, vans, buses and the ubiquitous tourists.

This is high street, one of the two major roads in downtown. Quite decent and stroll-able.

Low season, and it's still officially the rainy season. Dry season starts in Dec and runs for 6 months or so, and that's the time visitors are at the max. An anti-tourist like me would surely avoid that. :-)
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Cybercafes 090806

Cybercafes everywhere, but the Micro$oft brigade is too strong ...

... for the odd enlightened one.
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Town Walk 090806a

Yeah sure, Malaysia Food. The problem is I have no clue what's on the menu, and they include Indonesian Fried Rice too? Maybe they think Indonesia is part of Malaysia? The gent doesn't look helpful either.

Behind closed doors ...

Loaves of French bread on the dusty sidewalk. Just like in Paris, except that over there, they are in fine glassy bakeries or cake-shops and prolly cost 10 times more. Buy one and shove it under your armpit. :-)
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Town Walk 090806b

Travel agents - true one-stop centres!

This one does everything - click image for better read.

Town Walk 090806c

Across the Old Market, a row of old French-era building, renovated into shops, restaurants and bars, for USD-laden tourists.

A tuk-tuk, basically a carriage hitched to a motor-bike, instead of to a horse, say. Breezy ride, but the dust, noise and the swaying ride (lack of suspension) may make it a bit uncomfy.

Doing a tight U-turn in one of these could be interesting, very interesting.
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Town Walk 090806d

French still in full swing, especially among the older folks.

In the Central Market, anything goes. Bikes sold next to clothes.

Mind your language, Minnie! And Pleiku, behave yourself! Wartime souvenir lighters from GIs in Vietnam.
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Old Market 090806

Stacks of smoked fish. Can I have a plank of fish, please? Does not sound right, does it? Plus other dried dead critters.

Wholesome home-made sausages, pork, of course. The friendly lady vendor speaks excellent English, but sorry, me no eat cute piggies.

The mandatory fruit stalls, with the usual suspects.
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FINAL ~ Good Night 090806

Nightfall on main street. The all-night touristy spots are further up the road, to the right. Must be full of dancing neons, and drunks.
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Tomorrow morning we are going to leave the hotel at 5.00am to catch the fabled sunrise at Angkor Wat. That would be fun!