Some general thoughts about Cambodia. I picked April-May because it was ahead of the monsoons. Its quite a nice time to be here. The days are hot and basically sunny all day. The nights are warm and appealing. By hot, I mean mid-90s with a high humidity. If you don’t have a good heat tolerance, you may want to consider the winter months when it is reported to be slightly cooler. Remember, it’s a jungle setting.
The traffic, in Siem Reap is awful by western standards. It seems to be quite workable to the local population. You will want to take stock in it before venturing out in it alone. Some internet research I did before coming here suggested that westerners are no longer allowed to rent automobiles and drive in Siem Reap. If true, this is a good thing. There is a well established scooter and bicycle rental system, and scooters seem to account for the majority of the traffic. They are literally everywhere.
Where the traffic is chaotic, drivers aren’t rude. They will honk when coming up from behind, if they need to pass. Otherwise, all sizes of vehicles seem to get along well enough.
I got around by Tuk Tuk while I was here. They are everywhere and they are cheap. They basically form the backbone of the cab system in and around town. As a general rule, some language barriers aside, they all get you where you want to go first time. Tip: bring a tourist map with you and circle your hotel in it. Most hotels hand them out when you check in, if you enquirer. I found it solved the language barrier.
The traffic is probably 35% regular vehicles and 65% motorcycles, scooters, and Tuk Tuks. People don’t depend on regular vehicles here the way they do in the west. They depend upon scooters. Scooters are used by everyone from the young woman about town to the police department. And utilized for everything from general convergence to heavy industry. You will see anything from one person to a whole family on one scooter. And every article from people to mobile food kitchen. The Honda Dream 125 Scooter can literally be called the workhorse of Siem Reap.
On a side note, I learned that my driver was also the go-to guy if you wanted a prostitute while in town. He was accommodating to all preferences, which I thought was quite capitalist of him.
The Cambodian people are a welcoming and warm people. Even in a tourist town in the jungle, I felt quite safe everywhere I went. All of the locals who work along the tourist temple route are also quite friendly, even the relentless trinket hawkers. Don’t be put off by the stereotypes in the media. Cambodia is worth the travel dollar.
Bring sunscreen! The sun is quite intense when it isn’t hidden by the clouds. Sunscreen will help save your sense of humor after a couple days of temple hiking. For full disclosure, I didn’t bring any. I figured that the sun in the desert would be basically the same as it would be here. It more intense here. I’m guessing that’s because of a lack of sand haze.
That’s my two cents. I am off to pack a bag and catch a plane to Thailand.
On the airport. The Siem Reap airport isn’t big nor is it really international in its scope. They do a great job, but this should be factored into your leaving. I arrived two hours before my flight, and though not rush in any fashion, didn’t really have any amount of excess time.
arrival in Bangkok is surreal. It is at once, exactly what the websites say about it, and then it is so much more.
Landing in Bangkok airport (can’t spell the name) was pretty much the same as the pass-through flight a couple days ago. Its a big, crazy, congested airport, but at the same time easy to navigate.
I decided to take the train from the airport and then a metro and some walking, instead of a taxi from the airport. Okay, I admit I was being cheap. I took a hit with the money exchangers and wanted to limit the damage. I’m weak, I admit it.
The transfer from the airport was surprisingly easy. Everything is bi-lingual and people speak enough English to make things workable.
I ended up in the bar and hooker section of Bangkok. And, that being said, we might as well cross this bridge right now. I have seen many Middle-aged western … people with young Asian girls. It is, to be quite Blunt, very off-putting. I know this is a sex-tourism city, but I don’t know what toll it takes on its population.
As for the bar part, their everywhere! I literally walked around the corner from my hotel and found a dozen bars. Outstanding bar scene!
So, it’s been 7-eleven, bars!, and the Burger King. Now I’m at the hotel, watching Avengers, and planning for tomorrow.
Monsoon clouds over Bangkok.
Busiest woman on bar street.
just the scene.
Like I said, get out there. Do stuff.