In 2006 when I was last in Siem Riep, I remember a small city with not too many hotels. There was no power and the hotel we stayed at operated with a large diesel generator at the rear of the property. Today, it is a large sprawling city with hundreds of hotels, bars restaurants, and modern shopping facilities. I also noticed that everything is expensive compared to Phnom Penh. Not surprisingly, there were no local people to be seen in the tourist area unless they were employees. There is probably no way they could afford to be there. We arrived in the late afternoon and climbed up to the ruin of Bakheng to watch the sunset which is so highly rated in
the tour books. A person can no longer climb the staircase to the top, but now has to follow a groomed pathway built for tourists safety. We spent a day exploring the ancient ruins of Angkor Tom, Angkor Wat, Preah Khan, and Ta Som. As I recall from the past visit, all of the sites were spectacular. I a glad however, that I was able to visit 5 years ago before they built all of
the tourist souvenir huts, restaurants, and other eyesores. I might also have skipped the sunset at Bakheng had I knew how many people would be up there. There was a crowd that almost covered the entire ruins and the scent of marijuana was in the air. The local population has also found that if they arm young children with souvenirs, people will buy out of sympathy, therefore, expect crowds of youngsters all pleading with the same singsong voices for you to buy from them. They are sweet and are not necessarily a bad thing, and many of our party bought souvenirs from them. All tired out we headed back to Siem Riep for an evening of experiencing what the city offered for nightlife. The next day was free for us to do our own thing, so we split up and toured the city on our own. The downtown area is not too big and before long we had run into each other. The crocodile and fried fish paste made an excellent
lunch. WE were trying to find some “action” in Siem Riep, so \i hired a tuk tuk driver for the afternoon to drive me around. As I suspected, most of the action was geared towards the Asians and consisted of Karaoke bars and discos. Not finding what I was looking for, the driver mentioned a place outside of the city that was supposed to be a lot of fun. Intrigued, Brad, Mike and I decided to head out to take a look. Our tuk tuk took us about 8 km out of the city into the dark Cambodian night into an area that offered 2 dollar 1 hour massages. (a big thing in Asia) In the middle of nowhere, we came upon a giant mega entertainment complex the size of a shopping mall called the Pyramid Club. The three immediate areas we saw was a giant karaoke, disco, and a bistro, all offering entertainment. Curious to look around, we walked first into the karaoke club. Lined on both sides of the entrance were incredibly attractive young women that stood up as we entered. These girls were to be a companions for people wanting to drink some beers and belt out songs. No thank you!! The rest of the complex was deserted so we headed on back to Siem Riep back to our rooms. The next morning we were off for a late morning flight to Luang Prabang.