The next day, I headed up to Siem Reap, the site of the Angkor Temples. To give you some idea of where I was, here's a map:
As you can see, Siem Reap is north of Phnom Penh, but not too far. Cambodia is not a huge country, which is nice: travel felt much easier and more manageable than China or even Laos. I really enjoyed my time in Siem Reap - it had a little bit of the bustle and rough edges of Phnom Penh, but not nearly as frenetic and overwhelming. Even though the economy is obviously bolstered by the tourist industry, it seemed like there was a city life apart from that.
Old liquor bottles re-used for motorbike gasoline, available to buy on many street curbs.
That being said, there was definitely quite a nightlife and tourist scene in Siem Reap. Sometimes it felt like Disneyland, with so many European children and their parents, and sometimes it felt like a slightly classier version of Bourbon Street, full of backpackers and frat boys. My favorite place to go was a bar called Laundry. They played the perfect music and I went there almost every night for a glass of wine and the occasional Khmer lessons from the nice bartenders. It was usually empty, except for a few people playing pool.
Outside, people were cavorting and drinking and eating, or getting their feet gently massaged and cleaned by little fish. This has become strangely popular.
Also, I'm sure others were out doing more unsavory things. Cambodia has a very serious problem with child prostitution and trafficking. It made me hyper-sensitive to every transaction I saw between older white gentlemen and young Cambodian women. Everything about it gave me the creeps. In most places like Siem Reap, you come across couple public service billboards addressing the issue.
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