A day in Cambodia, Kingdom of Wonder
Daily life starts early in Siem Reap, Cambodia’s most bustling tourist destination. As soon as the sun rises, the streets become chaotic with traffic and the market traders bring out their colourful wares. Breakfast might be rice porridge or noodle soup, or some crunchy fried insects from a street vendor. Restaurant owners, eager to please their hungry customers, arrive early at the markets to buy the freshest produce. They browse brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, freshly cut meat, fragrant herbs and mountains of rice. The market is loud and busy, with strong smells from every direction. Buyers must haggle for the best price, and the traders won’t give in easily!
Some children wake early to go to school in their smart blue and white uniforms, while others begin a long day of work or even begging. Some help their parents on market stalls or in the rice fields; others flock to the famous Angkor temples to sell souvenirs to tourists who are looking for a bargain. Many Cambodian children learn English after school too: the wealthier families can send their children to private lessons; while some poorer children can learn at charity-run schools around the town. English is very important for these students, as it will help them to get a job in the tourist industry when they are old enough.
Tourists also rise early to make the most of their days. The temperature rises around midday, and rain is likely in the afternoon. This makes morning the perfect time to explore the beautiful temples and ruins around Siem Reap. Visitors can travel in a tuk-tuk, which is a small carriage pulled by a motorbike. Many tuk-tuk drivers decorate their vehicles to attract more customers – one is even painted as the Batmobile from the Batman films! After a long day of exploring, tourists can sample Cambodia’s national dish, Amok. This is a mild fish curry served in a bowl made from a banana leaf.
As night falls, some of Siem Reap’s residents go to bed early in preparation for another long day at work. No such luck for others, who stay up late to serve tourists in bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Even children can be seen on the streets late at night, begging for money or selling postcards and trinkets. Young travellers make the most of Siem Reap’s lively nightlife until dawn...when another day begins in this town of colours, chaos and contrasts.