Cambodia - Siem reap

There are a lot of hypermodern sizzling mega cities in Asia. Mega metropoli of neon lights and buzzing energy of the new world. and then, there are places like siem reap. Places which remind you what Asia really is, what it was, and let's face, what it will really always be.

Siem-reap is one of those places you are tempted to call magical, and I am not one who gives in easily to temptation, so it might actually be true. You know what, even the tourists in Siem-reap are less annoying, and as a professional traveler, I can tell you tourists usually are 9and they stand in the way of my shots. I don’t understand why they don’t just stay home and look at my pictures…)

and in Siem-reap the vibe of the place, the energy of the ancient peaceful life is changing the way people behave, changing the way they act and react. Of course it might also be the scorching heat and the humming if the wooden ceiling fan , but mostly it’s the energy of the place.

There is not a lot to do in Siem-reap. And I am stating that as a positive thing. It is not an activity city, more of a place to land in a nice coffee shop with a book and have a surprisingly French baguette for breakfast.  The city center is just big enough to walk around in and just small enough to walk around in, the perfect size for a pedestrian explorer.

 

 
 
 
 

But the real charm of the city is not in the city. It is in the fact it is such a perfect hub to tour the area, the almost untouched countryside of the Cambodian lifescape,  with gems of cultural importance just a short drive from town.

Now, the most famous of the sites is of course Angkor wat, and sometimes it feels like Siem-reap is nothing but a bus stop for people on the way to see that famous wonder of the ancient world. but that just means that while all the tourists go to the Angkor, they are not disturbing the quiet life in other places and the real traveler can witness Cambodian life in peace and quiet.

Living in Thailand for the better part of a decade, I have to say the first impression I got was that as they say – same same. After all Cambodia and Thailand are the same piece of earth, divided only by mortals and lines on maps.

 
 

But after going around and poking my lens in places people usually don’t go, I have to say that Cambodia is much prettier. Visually. If only for the basic fact it is still a couple of years behind Thailand in the flattening race for globalization.

I was never a big fan of globalization. Never understood the idea and it all looked a bit too fascist to me, and it is when you come to places which are really rural, really what we define "backwards" you see what we are losing in the name of global progress.

One of the things I like about Siem-reap is that after a day of walking around the countryside, of sweating under the hot asian sun looking for a piece of real life , that always happens to be hiding down the next alleyway, you can enjoy the relaxed nightlife in this small peaceful city.

I am not a big pub dweller, and the only bars I frequent these days are the chocolate bars in the pantry , but you can feel the positive energy when you walk down the famous "bar street" in Siem-reap. As the name implies this is where the bars are. Isn’t life so much more simple in Asia?

But as things go, this is much more than a bar street these days and the array of restaurants providing dishes from all over Asia in extremely reasonable prices is quite dazzling. I have tried only a few of the many options but have drooled in front of many more. As a foodie, an international selection like this is a big bonus for such a trip, and as a vegetarian, this is heaven.

All in all Siem-reap is a charming little fragment of the past, with colonial buildings and beautiful boulevards, a place where time didn’t stop, but it sure did become a little lazy and slower and stopped for a good ice coffee under a big green tree overlooking the river.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
                     
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