For the most part, people go to Siem Reap as a staging ground to visit the massive temple complexes in the area surrounding Angkor Wat. The town itself has devolved into a fairly grim tourist mishmash (although not as sad as Aguascalientes at the foot of Machu Picchu).
Don't be fooled by the "Night Market" sign. It's a market in about the same way as the clearance bin in Pier One is a market.
The main drag is a neon paroxysm known as Pub Street. It's jam packed with "restaurants" where you can have pancake/burrito/tuna pizza/local food. Mmmm. How you gonna pass that up?
For some reason, in the last five years the town has been over run with fish pedicure operations. I'm not kidding. There are dozens and dozens of places that, for a couple of bucks, will let tiny (and not so tiny) fish nibble away at your feet and hands.
We've seen isolated operations like this in other towns and countries, but there's something downright surreal about the sheer volume of pedicure-via-aquatic-life that has saturated Siem Reap.
I had no choice but to give in.
Piranha VI: The Scourge of Brobdingnag.
I was skeptical at first, but once you get past the whole Extreme Tickle Factor it's pretty awesome. It didn't hurt that they also keep bringing you beer. (The proprietors, not the fish.)
After an hour our heels and toes were silky smooth. And Rachel was slightly hysterical and possibly a little drunk. I guess 60 minutes of creatures repeatedly and continually attempting to eat you can be a touch mentally wearing.
We also met Thary, a disabled dude from the country side who had decided to stop begging and start weaving these cool bracelets and anklets. He had a great sense of humor and would make the jewelry say anything you wanted. Literally anything. I won't tell you what I eventually got him to write, but we had quite a good time brainstorming.
Not all the vendors we met where aimed at the tourist market. Like the folks in Lao and Oaxaca, Cambodians are big on the bug snacks. They win the prize for size though. While most of the edible insects we found were the size of a finger joint or smaller, those suckers in the bottom right were as big as my palm!
This lady was pretty pissed that I wanted to take photos, until she realized that I actually wanted to buy and try a healthy assortment of her wares. Then she was all smiles, even throwing in extra lime, chili, and green onion to make sure I had the full condiment spectrum.
I will say that, as a general rule, I prefer my creepy-crawlies to come in single bite servings. Something about working my way through a beetle the size of a Snickers bar held a decided lack of appeal. Maybe with more chocolate…
When we finally wrapped up our time in town, this is how we got from Siem Reap to Thailand.
Well, technically they drove us in this for a few miles until they loaded us into another bus- one with walls and doors and stuff. But for a while there I thought it was going to be a really long day.
Next up- glorious Bangkok!