Siem Reap – best surprise in Asia
Very nice, smiling and full of hospitality people, good level of English in any situation, cleanliness, organization, culture and history, excellent food, service, fun nightlife…this is what Siem Reap is all about! It seduced us from the very moment as we weren’t expecting much and it offered a lot!
Except from the magnificent, very well-known Angkor Wat for which we will make a dedicated post, the city in itself is a vibrant place, with significant European influence. I know many wouldn’t like these influences and would say the city “lost its authenticity” as I often heard about different places in Asia. But you know what? I came to the conclusion that I love Europe! I love these influences and I do not search for that kind of remote, “non-capitalist”, “non-commercial” spots on the map: I enjoy good food in a nice restaurant, air-conditioning, cocktail, clean streets and so on… And Siem Reap is a great mix of Asian culture and “modernity” – think that you can enjoy an insects meal cooked by a well-known chef in a very fancy restaurant (I did not have the courage to try) or have a delicious barbeque cooked outside at the night market. What a joy!
In addition, an important number of NGOs are working in the area to help the country develop. We visited one – Artisans Angkor – which started in the 90s as a vocational school in handi-crafts and is now both training and employing young poor/ handicapped people to keep Khmer Arts & Crafts alive. There is a lot to learn from these examples and Artisans Angkor offered me one project example for “Ursuletul Zeb”.
What is more about Siem Reap is that a big variety of options are available to choose from for the evening/ night. From traditional shows (theatre, Apsara dances, puppet shows) held in theatres, bars or restaurants to live music or crazy discotheques, everything is there! And what can be more seducing if not hearing to “Dragostea din tei” sang by a Cambodian during a live concert in the most famous bar? I just loved it!