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Siem Reap – thoughts

Posted by on November 8, 2006

Ok, I left Cambodia two days ago and flew up to Chang Mai. I wanted to make a posting about Siem Reap (the town near Angkor Wat)
The UN made Angkor Wat a World Heritage Site (UNESCO) in 1992 with establishment of democracy in 1997 and the death of the Kahmer Rouge, this town has become overwhelmed with tourists. On the main road (route 6) there are no less then 15 large hotels with another 15 in construction. All this landed on a town that is, very much, a third world town. Ponies pulling carts of vegetables can still be seen but the ponies are being replaced with motorbikes.

The influx of money has driven Cambodians into a frenzy of grabbing all they can from the rich tourists. Renting a motorbike guide for the temple complex costs 8-12 dollars per day while food costs about 50 cents per meal. Consider that the same in Thailand would cost about 4 dollars while cheap food costs about 1 dollar.

Also bring US dollars although the Cambodian Riel is the national currency, almost all commerce in the town is in US$. This is a clever way of inflating prices because everything seems to start at $1.

Beware the children offering to sell you items. Yes, they are cute and friendly but they are also extremely good business people. Trust me, they are much better at this then you are!!! They know what makes money and what doesn’t. They will try to bargain, use a bait and switch, shout out extremely low prices to get your attention, ask you personal questions to start a conversation, guilt you, and finally say “If you buy, we will give you peace and quiet!” As annoying as they can be, they always seemed to find a way to make me laugh.

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