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Thursday, July 26, 2012

CAMBODIA, SIEM REAP - REDOUX

ENGLISH EXPECTATIONS

Siem Reap is the jumping off point for the single largest tourist draw within Cambodia - Angkor Wat.  I would guess that more tourists pass through this town than any other town in Cambodia - possibly than all of the other towns combined.

And the level of English spoken by wait staff and workers within the tourist areas can be summed up as 'abysmal'.

If I go off of the 'beaten path' for tourism, I don't expect any English from the natives.  Maybe a little French from a member or two of the older generation but that's about it.

But the amount of English spoken by people who normally work here is painful.  They don't even understand basic sign language.  Note that I try very hard to never get angry with wait staff (eg waiters and waitresses) for their lack of understanding in the travel language of the world.  While food made 'with love' is arguably indistinguishable, food made 'with hate' is not.

This has probably saved me from being beaten up several times by desperate tuk-tuk drivers.  Sarcastic responses are totally not understood.  The only English many of them seem to speak is 'tuk tuk?', 'yes' and anything directly resulting in them getting money.  Even after over a week of eye rolling and tutting at them many still enjoy harassing me daily.  They don't realize (or care) that annoying every tourist in this way actually may decrease business rather than give them money.   They are not businessmen, rather beggars with bikes.

Siem Reap sadly is a 'one trick pony' in that they have only Angkor Wat to show off to tourists.  They haven't done anything else noteworthy in literally the last nine hundred years here.

Once tourists have darted in and spent their one, two or in extreme cases three days viewing Angkor Wat - and only that - they can leave Cambodia knowing they've seen the best it has to offer.   After a few days of being hassled almost continuously by the natives, I'm sure they are happy to escape Cambodia forever.

It was a bit of a shock for me to come straight from Indonesia to Cambodia.  In Indonesia, the 'neutral' facial expression might be described as 'friendly', 'happy' or 'content'.  With the prices of alcohol there I am not sure how this is possible but yet it is so.   In Cambodia, I would liken the 'neutral' facial expression to something I might see in a concentration camp.  Not on the happy guards faces either.  I've seen more liveliness in the eyes of hookers Matt has murdered and hidden in his own interpretation of the English children's game 'Murder in the Dark'.

I'm not sure what brings this on but I wish they would learn the Thai insincere smile at least!



POST OFFICE

I nearly died of shock when the easy to understand and easy to follow directions actually got me to the Siem Reap post office.  There was a bit of 'sticker shock' when it turned out to be $17 to send off two notebooks to the Czech Republic.  I'm sure that part of that price goes into 'time spent to locate the country'.

Normally, I don't like paying more for the postage than the books originally cost.  I'm pretty sure my aimless scribblings decrease - rather than increase - the value of the notebooks.  Since I've gotten tired lugging them around, I spent the money.

I know that mailing these off to Jana will form a part of my legacy which shall be left to future generations upon Ebay as soon as my death is discovered.   Should they not sell, one day it is possible that a future descendant of Jana  will be playing in the attic and discover an old large chest.  Childlike wonder shall  ensue as the chest is pried open.  A dust cloth shall be pulled back to reveal a series of mismatched small notebooks.  The boy or girl will tenderly pick up and open the cracking cover to reveal unfamiliar handwriting.  At this point it will  be slammed back shut and tossed back in the chest as the kid was probably never taught English.

Well, if Mother Russia ever reaches forth her hand and takes back over the Czech Republic at least the notebooks will make good firelighter for those long cold winters.  Or, perhaps they will fill some critical niche in a landfill.

The future is wide with possibilities.



TRAVEL IN CAMBODIA

In addition to wikitravel, I found this map.  Clicking around the other buttons on the site also shows other useful maps.  A nice resource for Cambodia.



HAMBURGER

Quote:  Chiun: "I can see the deadly hamburger has done its evil work."

When I first returned to Cambodia, I found myself strangely drawn to cheap hamburgers.  Because they are  not as tasty as the hamburgers of the USA, I hoped that meant they were killing me a bit slower.

[Note, if you don't know who Chiun is, he is perhaps the best and brightest Korean man ever to grace a movie. Played, unexpectedly, by a white guy.  He was even nominated for an Golden Globe award in the role.  Reference, Remo Williams movie.]



TRAVELER'S TIPS

When is the best time to bribe someone?

Answer:  Long before you need to.

I was feeling a bit guilty about blowing so much money in Cambodia.  I did some thinking about it and determined I'd blown less than $20 USD on myself (booze) and the rest of the money had gone to things that I need - like cheap medicine and cheap eyeglasses.  Not really a 'wastrel' situation.

Since I'm going to be staying at this hotel for awhile (possibly a month, we'll see) I decided to bribe a minor functionary (desk guy) with a small bottle of whiskey.  When I was leaving, I asked him which he thought was better - whiskey or rum.  He had no idea what I was talking about - whiskey seemed to be the only word he knew.  Since that was the case, I picked him up a 200ml bottle (very small, hip flask sized) bottle of whiskey - for $2.20.

He acted as though I gave him The Grail.

Life will be easier by just a bit here.

Remember, bribe before you need to.  It costs less and you can begin laying ground work for later.



PHILOSOPHY

Well, the biggest disadvantage to where I'm currently staying seems to be the musicians that set up next to the night market nearby.  Their music has all of the variety of a Peruvian flute band.  The music sounds all the same.  I'm surprised that none of the locals have beat them to death with their own instruments yet.  That's the disadvantage of being in Cambodia.  Still, I suppose, it could be worse.  I could be in Thailand where they may rename the Thai Bhat into 'Whore Vouchers' so the tourists aren't confused about the money.


I detest in others what I dislike in myself, seen in that living mirror.



BOOK REVIEWS


I read this book and found it amusing and a bit thought provoking.



This book is much more serious and worth the reading time.  I listened to it on MP3.  Sadly, the speaker was more interested in speaking with clear emphasis rather than in a normal voice  tone.  Although I realize the usual three things which stand in the way of any of the self improvement books I recommend will effectively block most people from bothering to check out this book (they being laziness, ignorance and arrogance) for the small percentage of you which have realized interaction with other humans will be a lifelong endeavor, I recommend this book.  It is dry and I found it a bit painful to listen to - however I will listen to it again after I hear a couple other books.  This will allow time for the material to sink in.  For those who have gamed with me or listened to the numerous MP3's of games, this book increases 'empathy' skill.



RESTAURANT REVIEW - ALL RESTAURANTS THUS FAR IN SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA

I've been to approximately twenty or more restaurants within the Siem Reap tourist area.  All of the food is 'decent, yet slightly disappointing'.  The best I've found thus far is a Mexican food place which I would describe as 'slightly less disappointing than normal'.



VIDEOS

At last, the huge bulk of videos has been uploaded.  Let us all rejoice until the next batch.

Temple B 1
Temple B 2
Temple B 3
Temple B 4
Temple B 5
Dani Home Stay different room
Bit o Holiday Music
Diablo Beer
Not For Rent
Weird
Gili T Pan shot
Flying Saucer
Momma Party
French Revenge
Ferry's



COSTS

Siem Reap to Battambang.  By boat, $22.  By AC bus, $3.75.  Looking at the map, taking the boat really doesn't make any sense as most of the journey still works out to be overland.

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PICTURES

{{2011}} London, GB | Rail N Sail | Amsterdam, Netherlands | Prague, Czech Republic | Budapest, Hungary | Sarajevo, Bosnia | Romania | Chisinau, Moldova | Ukraine: Odessa - Sevastopol | Crossed Black Sea by ship | Georgia: Batumi - Tbilisi - Telavi - Sighnaghi - Chabukiani | Turkey: Kars - Lost City of Ani - Goreme - Istanbul | Jordan: Amman - Wadi Rum | Israel | Egypt: Neweiba - Luxor - Karnak - Cairo | Thailand: Bangkok - Pattaya - Chaing Mai - Chaing Rei | Laos: Luang Prabang - Pakse | Cambodia: Phnom Penh | Vietnam: Vung Tau - Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City

{{2012}} Cambodia: Kampot - Sihanoukville - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat | Thailand: Bangkok | India: Rishikesh - Ajmer - Pushkar - Bundi - Udaipur - Jodhpur - Jasalmer - Bikaner - Jaipur - Agra - Varanasi | Nepal: Kathmandu - Chitwan - Pokhara - Bhaktapur - (Rafting) - Dharan | India: Darjeeling - Calcutta Panaji | Thailand: Bangkok - again - Krabi Town | Malaysia, Malaka | Indonesia: Dumas - Bukittinggi - Kuta - Ubud - 'Full Throttle' - Gili Islands - Senggigi | Cambodia: Siem Reap | Thailand: Trat | Turkey: Istanbul | Georgia: Tbilisi

{{2013}} Latvia: Riga | Germany: Berlin | Spain: Malaga - Grenada | Morocco: Marrakech - Essauira - Casablanca - Chefchawen - Fes | Germany: Frankfurt | Logan's Home Invasion USA: Virginia - Michigan - Indiana - Illinois - Illinois - Colorado | Guatemala: Antigua - San Pedro | Honduras: Copan Ruinas - Utila | Nicaragua: Granada | Colombia: Cartagena | Ecuador: Otavalo - Quito - Banos - Samari (a spa outside of Banos) - Puyo - Mera

{{2014}} Peru: Lima - Nasca - Cusco | Dominican Republic | Ukraine: Odessa | Bulgaria: Varna - Plovdiv | Macedonia: Skopje - Bitola - Ohrid - Struga | Albania: Berat - Sarande | Greece: Athens | Italy: Naples - Pompeii - Salerno | Tunisia: Hammamet 1

{{2015}} Hammamet 2 | South Africa: Johnnesburg | Thailand: Hua Hin - Hat Yai | Malaysia: Georgetown | Thailand: Krabi Town | Indonesia:
Sabang Island | Bulgaria: Plovdiv | Romania: Ploiesti - Targu Mures | Poland: Warsaw | Czech Republic: Prague | Germany: Munich | Netherlands: Groningen | England: Slough | Thailand: Ayutthaya - Khon Kaen - Vang Vieng | Cambodia: Siem Reap

{{2016}} Thailand: Kanchanaburi - Chumphon | Malaysia: Ipoh - Kuala Lumpur - Kuching - Miri | Ukraine: Kiev | Romania: Targu Mures - Barsov | Morocco: Tetouan | Portugal: Faro

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