4 Reasons Why Siem Reap is the Most Aggravating City on the Planet


We just spent two and a half days in Siem Reap, which in my opinion was far too long.  See, Siem Reap is a place that just gets to you. It has some inexplicable way of getting right to your nerves and giving them a little flick.

Cambodia: More annoying than this thing.

4. The Children
I know what you’re thinking. I’m some terrible person that hates children and is annoyed  by crying and whining. Well, all of that is true, but is not actually why the children are annoying.  Unlike the children in Phnom Penh, who were often smart and charming and actually selling things, the children of Siem Reap just hassle you.  They will come up to you, holding their “little brother” and a near empty bottle and say “Don’t want money, only milk!” Now, I don’t really get this scam, because obviously a baby needs to eat. But when one girl followed us down an entire street telling us to go into a shop and buy milk, we saw her blatantly pinching the baby so he would cry, because he was “hungry.”  And there were kids everywhere doing this.  Now, I’m not so evil that I would let a baby starve, but I also can’t give money to every begging child, especially when things don’t seem quite right. Still, it's hard to say no, despite how irritating the kids are.

3. The “Salespeople”
Just to be clear, everyone is selling something in Siem Reap. Ricky commented that he would like to meet one person that wasn’t a tourist that didn’t want his money. It’s impossible.  This town is a tourist town, and all the people want is the dollar. You cannot walk down the street without being shouted at by people whose soul job is to sit outside a business and shout at you. “Lady! You have massage! Mister, you eat here!”  And it’s not an offer, either. It’s a command. These people are telling you to buy their stuff of partake of their service. In their mind you don’t have a choice. But you do, and most often that choice is no.

2. The Tourists
As I said a minute ago, Siem Reap is a tourist town, and boy is it ever.  Pub Street is exactly what it sounds like and has the largest concentration of tourists that I’ve seen in a long time.  You can’t get away from them. Once again I’m sure you’re all thinking “Good heavens, that Talia is one anti-social nightmare.” Well sometimes. But mostly Ricky and I  like to enjoy a place for its local culture.  With so many tourists, there is no local culture, unless you count the locals who own the pubs, guesthouses, and restaurants that cater almost solely to tourists.

1. The Tuk-Tuk Drivers
We thought we had it bad in Phnom Penh. We had no idea.
In Phnom Penh, tuk-tuk drivers would shout at you as you pass, wanting to you to know that he was there and ready to take you wherever you needed to go. If you said no, he might ask one more time, just to be sure, but would otherwise leave you alone.
In Siem Reap, however, the drivers just won’t let you go. They rarely sit in their vehicle as they ask you where you want to go. Instead, they wander the street, especially Pub Street, walking by your side as you tell them yet again, that no, you don’t want a tuk-tuk. And they just don’t listen. Instead, they talk.
“Where you go, mister? You want massage? You want eat? I take you. Where you from, lady?  What time is it? Where you stay? I take you there.”
There really is no end to their chatter, until you either shout a very loud NO, or walk further away from the tourist crowd than they are comfortable with.

Now, for you non-travelers, some of this may sound kind of petty, and maybe it is.  Maybe I shouldn’t be bothered by people just trying to do their job, or other travelers having a good time.  Maybe I should learn to be a little more patient in my travels.

In any case, I’m glad to be out of Siem Reap.

7 comments:

  1. Good grief. They sound like the people I encountered in Shenzhen. They literally just take all the fun out of the experience.

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    1. Ronald, yes. We were in Shenzhen, and they have nothing on Cambodians. Seriously. They really do just ruin a good time. We tried to go the beach today. It was lovely and sunny and the water was warm. But we couldn't sit there for 5 minutes without being hassled by beggars and people selling crap. We left after about 15 minutes.

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  2. Hey Ricky/Talia! My impression of Siem Reap was about to go down pretty badly as well! I'm sure we can agree based on our Floating Village tour together. But I was lucky enough to have met a lovely Cambodian guy who offered to take me out on a day trip on his motorbike with no hidden agendas. The only catch is that I had to cover for his petrol and food expenses which is fairly reasonable!! =) He also showed me where the locals go for food and entertainment, introduced me to his wife and showed me around his makeshift home in the Angkor area where he co-habited with white ants (literally eating away his house), geckos, scorpions, rats, snakes and the likes. It was an eye-opening experience to say the least. Its amazing how one person can dramatically change your mind about a place. I hope you guys make some genuine connections along your travels to get a real feel for the place! I guess Siem Reap just wasn't one of them!

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you had a good experience! That's must have been wonderful to meet and hang out with a local. We're still having a hard time in Sihanouk. It's so touristy that you can't escape the tuk-tuks and beggars.

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  3. This is very pretentious. "Too many tourists", as if you have more of a right to visit somewhere than anyone else. In a country where the government provides nothing for the people, the tourists you hate so much provide a good source of income for many locals. Would you prefer all of the people that make money off of the tourist industry starve so you could get a more "authentic experience?" Typical white arrogance.

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  4. Ha ha. Well, I live in Siem Reap and I fully understand your annoyance. But hey, there is more to Siem Reap than Pub Street and the tourist ghetto that surrounds it. You don't have to walk far to avoid the hassle that you are complaining about. Cambodia is a poor country where most people survive on a lot less than $100 a month. By comparison, you are a very wealthy person. A restaurant worker in Pub Street is maybe paid $80 a month. On the other hand a beggar can easily do better than that without having to work for it. If you want to get to know Siem Reap and it's charming people, then get away from the tourists. And yes, I love it here.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ha ha. Well, I live in Siem Reap and I fully understand your annoyance. But hey, there is more to Siem Reap than Pub Street and the tourist ghetto that surrounds it. You don't have to walk far to avoid the hassle that you are complaining about. Cambodia is a poor country where most people survive on a lot less than $100 a month. By comparison, you are a very wealthy person. A restaurant worker in Pub Street is maybe paid $80 a month. On the other hand a beggar can easily do better than that without having to work for it. If you want to get to know Siem Reap and it's charming people, then get away from the tourists. And yes, I love it here.

    ReplyDelete

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