Friday 1 February 2013

It's hot in Siem Riep!

It's hot. 34 degrees today. Were staying in a lovely timber clad hotel overlooking the river in the centre of Siem Reap, the main reason why tourists come here in their thousands is the UNESCO heritage site of Angkor Wat closeby.

Cambodia had 2.1 million visitors last year and over half came here! Eleven years ago there were neither traffic lights or Tarmac roads in the area, now there are a whole bunch of fancy hotels, two golf courses and lots of foreign investment. There's also an emphasis on green tourism all be it in it's infancy but the intention is there.

On Wednesday morning we started off in one of the bustling local markets, beautiful fresh produce, lots of unrecognisable greens, fish and shellfish in every shape and form, salted, dried, smoked, pickled... Women butchers perched cross-legged on raised benches chopping all sorts of unmentionable bits of freshly slaughtered meat.

The traditional clay and tin cooking utensils are quickly giving way to brightly coloured plastic from China. Thousands of people work in the market and they are all busy, busy, busy, selling, delivering, chopping, wrapping, grating coconut, juicing fruit, grinding spices... Later we drove out into the countryside to see one of the floating villages. Fascinating as ever driving through the rural areas and little villages.We stopped to buy bamboo rice from a little stall on the roadside, the rice is literally cooked with a few black beans in a piece of hollow bamboo and cooked slowly over a little fire, moist, sticky and delicious.

We took a boat right out into the lake to see the houses floating on rafts, again thousands of people live from fishing and all the associated activities, salting, drying, selling.....

Everyone was super friendly and good humoured even when our boat broke down and we had to hitch a lift back on another boat.

In the evening we had delicious Cambodian food at a restaurant called Sugar Palm.

We've an early start this morning, 5.30 am to get to Angkor Wat for Sunrise. Haven't been able to sleep, too hot, so I've been practicing my typing instead!