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Day 7 - Tonle Sap

Our last day in Siem Reap. On the itinerary this morning was a boat trip on Tonle Sap Lake. During a typical rainy season, Toilette Sap covers an area of 12,000 square km. It shrinks in the dry season but is still the largest lake in SE Asia.

There is a large floating village on the lake mostly populated by Vietnamese fisherfolk. They have a school (only accessible by boat), shops and houses and places of worship.

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We stopped at a shop to see live crocodiles - not as big as Australian ones but a decent size. The crocodiles were being kept for their skins and for meat but are also a tourist attraction. They also had two Civit Cats. These are about the size of 8 week old domestic kittens and they were very cute. Civics are eaten but we think these were being kept as pets (and probably also to show tourists).

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Travelling the lake we passed a boat restaurant called the Queen Tara. Apparently it's owned by a guest house in Siem Reap. It looked to be in need of some serious maintenance.

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Though it was hot, it was pleasant out on lake with cooling breezes; a really nice way to spend the morning.

After returning to land we headed back to Siem Reap. On the way we stopped at a local village and walked along for a couple hundred metres to see how the locals live. The houses are built on stilts since the land is swampy and prone to flooding. There are small shrines at each house and petrol is sold in any old bottle at a stall in front of someone's house. Of course there are petrol stations but not in these small villages.

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Back in Siem Reap we visited the King's residence and a temple where local people come to pray. The King's residence and the temple are surrounded by a lovely public park though there is some fencing put up during Covid to protect the King and it hasn't been removed.

We walked through the park under the trees where there are large fruit bats roosting during the day, then through a market selling flowers and small birds. Both are purchased by people to offer at the temple to gain favour for their prayers. The birds are set free as an offering.

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The temple is currently being restored and is fenced so no one can enter. The Buddha can be seen through an open door and an area has been set up for the local people to pray and make offerings. There is also a shrine near the front entrance.

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The King's residence is relatively modest for a Palace but with quite a grand area in front of it. A road runs right past the front door and before COVID people could just drive past the house.

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Lunch was at a Khmer restaurant; I had the best Spring Rolls yet and Laurence had a minced pork dish which he really liked. The traditional style food here has been very good, not too spicy so I can eat it. We've had Western style food (hamburgers, toasted sandwiches) a couple of times and it definitely isn't as good. The exception was the French restaurant where the food was excellent.

After lunch we visited the local market for an hour or so. I found the sellers more aggressive than in the Russian market in Phnom Penh though not as bad as some places I've been to.

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The market was our final stop for the day and we returned to our hotel by 2.30. The weather cooperated and I finally got my swim and a drink by the beautiful pool.

Around 5.30 we took a tuk tuk into Pub Street, an area of Siem Reap catering to foreigners, full of restaurants and pubs. You can get anything from traditional food to pizza in this area, there are places to dance the night away (for those young enough t be up past 9pm) or you can get a massage. You can also stick your feet in a fish tank and let the fish chew off any dead skin.

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We started at one end of the street planning to drop into a couple of places for drinks while checking out places to eat. We went into a bar / restaurant near the start for a drink and we were shortly joined by another couple from the tour Karen and Garry.

Just after they came in, it started to rain and boy did it rain. The gutters filled and the street was very quickly ankle deep in water and the water was up over the kerb and coming in the front of restaurants.

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There was so much water the cockroaches were afraid of drowning and came out of the gutters and into the restaurants. At first I was sitting in a bench seat against the wall but the cockroaches crawled along the back of the seat (high ground) and kept dropping on me. I had to move and put my feet up on a chair to keep them from crawling on my feet. The waitresses ran around with shoes and brooms killing the bugs or sweeping them away.

The restaurant, including the toilets, was very clean and once it stopped raining the cockroaches went back to the gutters and drains and we didn't see any for the rest if the evening.

We ended up being in this bar for over an hour and had several drinks. Karen and Gary were both wearing thongs so were able to splash through the water to the nearby restaurant the had chosen fir dinner during a break in the rain. Laurence was wearing joggers, his only pair of shoes, so we had to wait it out.

The rain finally stopped, the water drained away from the stree and we were able to leave and make our way to another restaurant Karen had recommended for dinner. We had spring rolls, satay sticks and fush cakes for appetisers. Then I had a really nice chicken curry and Laurence had Pad Thai. All delicious.

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After dinner we finally got to walk up the rest of the street and have a look around but we didn't feel like any more beers so found a ruk tuk to take us home. There was a lot of flooding on the road back to our hotel and it was quite difficult for our tuk tuk driver so we gave him a little extra.

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Our visit to Pub Street was quite an experience, we were so glad we did it even with the cockroaches.

Posted by Gone Travelling 03:43

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