On my second day at Siem Reap, I had to cancel my buffet itinerary since they cannot do an Apsara dance show due to the king’s father’s passing. Instead, I went to the popular Night Market to see if I could find some stuff I could take home with me.
I had my dinner at an outdoor restaurant serving grilled meat and fish. I was kind of disappointed with the food they serve in Siem Reap in general. Majority of the menu that I saw have the same thing, with a limited range of cuisine. Some of the dishes lack flavor too. I even found myself adding chili sauce in every dish that I order just to amp up the flavor a bit. I love their chili sauce though. I also had their popular local beer. I am not an avid beer drinker, in fact I do not fancy it (I drank beer before, probably half a can or bottle at most, but I really do not like the taste). So drinking their local beer was sort of a challenge. People said it was great. I find it a bit mellow compared to our local light beer.
I walked around the night market to look for souvenirs. I am not a shopper at all, so I knew to myself that this was going to be a daunting task, and I knew that my bargaining skills will be tested. It was kind of funny that even just by glancing at an item, the vendors would approach you instantly as if they were keeping an eye on you. I think they misinterpret a glance as a sign of interest on the product they were selling, which I think can be attributed to the language difference and how they interact with the tourists.
On the third day, I visited the Old Market on the other side of Pub Street, which also has its own range of items. At this point, I was vigilant in spending my money because since I was spending in dollars, it felt like I was spending more than the usual. I constantly try to compute every single transaction that I made. I was on a tight budget, and due to some mishaps in the tours, it became more difficult for me to spend. I even had to walk my way back to the guesthouse (partly because my tuktuk driver did not pick me up as per our agreement) just to save money.
The pub street sort of established itself as a red light district (minus the provocative establishments) in Siem Reap. It was apparent with locals trying to approach tourists offering “services”. I even saw one transaction happen right in front of me while I was waiting for my tuktuk driver. Heck, even I was approached if I wanted one. These scenarios are reflective of the country’s economy, with the people resulting to “jumping to the dark side” just to get additional income.