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"You're tourists - that means you're very rich!"

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Today was an odd one. It started off normally enough, with a boat ride around Siem Reap's floating village. Our 21-year-old tour guide was a bit of a legend, claiming that he wasn't going to bore us with facts, and then proceeding to tell us his life story. From the 'facts' he did get around to telling us, we learned that most of the people who live in the floating village are Vietnamese, they cook, wash and dispose of waste all in the same water, and the kids who float around with snakes around their necks are doing it purely to lure in the tourists. Same with the crocodiles. We floated around on Tonle Sap lake - the largest freshwater lake in SE Asia - and had a long debate with our guide as to whether the mountain-shaped thing on the horizon was a mountain or a cloud. As we climbed off the boat we were confronted by children holding tacky souvenir plates...we said 'no thanks' and were about to move on when we suddenly realised that the plates were decorated with incredibly unflattering photographs of us! We were completely baffled for a second before realising that the 'creepy man' who walked past pointing a camera at us as we queued to board the boat must have had a purpose after all! That would explain our mildly annoyed expressions in our plate-photos.

After this, we were literally coerced into eating at Kimlay and Lily's restaurant again - our tour guide was operating under strict instructions to bring us there despite our claims that we'd 'rather try somewhere new'. However, it did give me a chance to go a bit crazy in the market, finally caving in and buying a few quirky ceramic opium pots. In the afternoon Lily joined us on another money-spinner: tours around a silk-making workshop and a craft project run by Artisans of Angkor, finishing with obligatory visits to the gift shops. The silk products were gorgeous, but ridiculously expensive. Clearly, a bunch of debt-ridden students wasn't quite the market they were looking for, but we knew from previous experience that Cambodians tend to assume that tourists = rolling in money.

In the evening we decided to check out the night market - Alannah and I, all marketed out and ready for a Singapore Sling - our Cambodian beverage of choice - came across a bar in the middle of the market and relaxed for a while. We were the only people there. At least it meant we got to hog the hammocks. Later, we headed to a bar on Bar Street (which could be anywhere in the world, it's so westernised) to meet some of Melissa's friends who happened to be in town at the same time as us.

permalink written by  lucy3119 on August 17, 2011 from Siem Reap, Cambodia
from the travel blog: Cambodia 2011
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