Monday 7 May 2012

Cambodia: Siem Reap

Viroth's Hotel - Siem Reap
‘I can see Cambodia!’ shouted the little boy in red wrap-around glasses on the other side of the aisle as the Silk Air Airbus thumped down with little dignity onto Siem Reap International’s solitary runway. Our passports passed along a chain of uniformed immigration staff and moments later we were in the car heading towards Viroth’s, a small seven-room boutique hotel in Street 23. The room was simply decorated with white walls, brown curtains, grey ceramic floor tiles with neatly arranged items of local pottery and an initially overpowering smell of lemons.

A couple of hours later, fuelled by our free cocktail, we strolled through the Old Market where most of the stallholders were either having a snooze or packing up for the day.

Our thoughts turned to dinner. It’s not hard to miss Pub Street as there are humungous neon signs across either end with large arrows pointing in the direction of the town’s most densely packed area of bars and restaurants.

Amok - Traditional Khmer Food restaurant, Siem ReapWe found the ‘Traditional Khmer Food’ restaurant in one of the side streets and took a table that was being used as a shelter for a couple of cats - one of them reminded us of a former acquaintance in Muscat known as ‘Scabby Puss’. The young waitress was highly amused by Mrs M’s torch as she made her selection from the faded and slightly out of focus menus. Half a large bottle of ice-cold Angkor beer later, I was savouring a quite delightful fish amok while Mrs M enjoyed a simple sweet and sour pork served in half a pineapple.

On the way back to the hotel, a long-term ex-pat from Devon and his friend the tuk-tuk driver, provided a typically less than flattering foreigner’s account of life in Cambodia which always makes you wonder why they stay.

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