Sunday, June 5, 2016

Exploring Siem Reap

There is every kind of street food imaginable!
After two weeks of experiencing so many different things in Vietnam and Cambodia, we needed a couple of days to unwind and explore Siem Reap before heading back to Australia. This has been a fascinating vacation. And one I never would have thought about taking except that our Australian visa dictated that we needed to leave the country at the end of 90 days. It seemed smarter to stay on this side of the world so here we are!

Pub Street is the heart of the restaurant district.
Once we left the luxury of the Mekong Princess, we moved to the Park Hyatt in Siem Reap. Love the Eggs Benedict for breakfast! It is located a few blocks from the action in Siem Reap. The main street for wining and dining is Pub Street. There are many different choices for the palate available here all day and well into the night.

Every establishment is "open air" so we could take in the sights, sounds and smells of the restaurant district. There were many choices for street food. I am a little shy about it as I don't know what it may do to our systems so we tend to stick with restaurants - although Dennis is often game to try things!

You can even have a "fish pedicure!"
There are shops selling clothes, crocodile skulls and things made from their skins, beautiful fabrics, spices and almost anything else you can imagine. There is a large bazaar market place as well. Like the others we have visited, they can be overwhelming to the senses. Too much stuff packed into tiny spaces - not for me! I like to quickly walk through, but not really take time to shop. I know I am missing out on really good prices, but I don't have room to store "stuff" on the boat.

So many choices for the palate!
You can get massages, have your nails done at really cheap prices and even have pedicures on the street. One type of pedicure is where you sit with your feet in a fish tank and let them nibble at your feet to remove calluses, etc. Not for me! My feet are too ticklish to let them do that.

As for food choices, there are so many. In most places you select something on display and they heat it up and bring it to the table. In others, you cook your own in a pot of broth. Of course, there are many places where you order from a menu. We have found the Cambodian cuisine to be very good. Some times I amaze myself at what I have tried and how well I like it. I am not a picky eater, but I am selective!

A typical street: motorcycles, few cars or trucks.
We spent a few hours visiting the students and craftsmen at the Siem Reap Artisans Angkor
Arts and Crafts Workshop. These workshop centers were developed to help young rural people find work near their home villages. By providing professional skills to provide educational opportunities, they are able to maintain their traditional Khmer arts and crafts.

Students creating Cambodian art.
Created near the end of the 1990's, Artisans Angkor provides training in good working conditions and social advantages to its employees. There are 42 workshops in Siem Reap employing over 1,300 people, including more than 900 artisans.

Only a two minute walk from the Old Market and Pub Street, you are welcomed to enter the world of traditional Khmer handicraft. Upon arrival at this charming place, a friendly Cambodian guide invites you to follow him for a free guided tour of the workshops in English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, or Khmer.

I was pleased to see they wore masks and safety glasses
when working. The students are learning how to take
care of themselves while producing their artwork.
First our guide explained great story of Artisans Angkor, from its origins as an educational project to today’s thriving social business. Then, walking peacefully from one workshop to another, we had the opportunity to admire the knowledge and techniques of the artisans in stone and wood carving, lacquering, silver plating and silk painting.

And, of course, the tour ends with the main showroom for a look at the diversity of pieces made by hand by the artisans. The works were exquisite and not at all like handicrafts found in island markets. These products are high end and sell for high prices.

Handmade Buddhas

The coconut shell bowls are hand painted and lacquered.
These are not the cheap ones you find in Pier One or Dollar Stores.
Golden Buddhas are treasured
The first step in carving a stone statue.

One other local visit was to a school. We have had the good fortune to visit a number of schools in both Vietnam and Cambodia. It is delightful to talk with the children and listen to their English. They are working very hard to improve their English language skills. They often performed songs for us. Again, the schools are consciously working to teach traditional arts, crafts, music and dance to retain their cultural heritage as well as English.
The last school we visited also had some vocational training programs. One class was sewing and the students made a number of items for sale. We purchased two of their cotton waffle-weave bathrobes. They will be perfect summer robes once we are back on land. And they were willing to make them to order, adding length and pockets! The robes were delivered to our hotel within 48 hours.

The children everywhere love to sing for us.

The children do gardening on the wall using plastic bottles!

No comments:

Post a Comment

We would love to hear from you here. You can see earlier posts at