EXSQO Anna and Joao USA

Our notes

        • - Dollars are accepted everywhere! First country we’ve been that you pay with dollars and you receive the change in Cambodian Riel or in both💸; 
        • - Cheap country for food, but tourists always have to pay more for other things (especially in Siem Reap) - Tuk-tuks, fruits, shakes, or even in the restaurants!;
        • - Many public places are free for Cambodians, but foreigners need to pay. Good example is popular Ankor Wat which is free for citizens but costs 37$ for foreigners (used to cost 20$ but “hey, it is so awesome that people will pay anyway” - right?);

      - There are many people selling gas on the street in bottles. It makes sense as we do not see many gas stations across the city center, hence “small entrepreneurs” just take care of the supply 😉;
      - Motorcycles are the most used main of transport 🛵;
      - Fish massage? Why not! In Cambodia, especially in Siem Reap it is very popular to get a “massage" where fish eat the dead cells of your feet. 🐟;

- Comparing to other countries that we have visited so far Cambodia seems to be developing, but still a country that needs much work. It is visible in many aspects, such as transportation, nutrition, lack of care for the environment, dirty public places, etc.

Interesting products

▫️ % with snakes 🐍 : An alcohol bottle with small snakes inside.

Gastronomy

▫️ Let’s say that right at the beginning: Yes, Cambodians do it insects, yes they do it things like snakes or crocodile meat and yes it is casual food, not a fancy thing;
▫️ Fruits, fruits and fruits 🍌🥭🥥🍍🍉 ! You can get a variety of delicious fruits in any place for very low price! Cambodia takes fruit shakes to the next level! You can buy them literally everywhere and as they are made of local fruits they are truly delicious;
▫️ Amok - the most popular version is with fish but it might be also with chicken. It is a rich, creamy curry sauce with very strong coconut taste with rice as a side. Sometimes you can get it served in coconut shell. Anna loved it, Joao really did not like 😝 ;
▫️ Khmer curry - another curry sauce, made with chicken, beef or fish, potatoes and coconut milk. The special ingredient is kroeung, which is a paste made of many different ingredients such as lemongrass, turmeric, garlic, shallots and dried red chillies, to name a few;
▫️ Lok lak - stir-fried beef or pork with a brown, slightly sweet sauce served with rice and lettuce with tomatoes, cucumbers and onion. This dish is served with a dipping sauce made of pepper, salt and lime which is often used to spice up many Cambodian dishes;
▫️ Balut - a fertilised embryo of a duck 🐣 The first dish we write about that we did not try (because we tried insects in Thailand). Eggs like this are also popular in the Philippines! The egg is eaten whole, usually directly from the shell, as a very popular snack rich in proteins - as one vendor told us “You eat one and you have a lot of power!” - nice way to sell 😛 ;

▫️ Pumpkin custard - made of pumpkin and coconut custard, which is steamed and served in the pumpkin itself;
▫️ Fried Shrimp “Cookie” - small snack made of very tiny shrimps (they are so small that you eat them with head and a shell) 🦐🦐🦐; 
▫️ Thai (wait, what?!) ice cream - this type of ice cream is usually referred as Thai ice cream but we tried it on the night market in Siem Reap - and actually did not see it anywhere else! 1$ with toppings (say whhaatt, again!);
▫️ Fried rice/fried noodles - as in any South East Asian country. However, interestingly, in Cambodia chopsticks are much less common than in other countries - they use a fork and a spoon instead 🥢 ;
▫️ In Siem Reap many restaurants before serving dishes serve free peanuts (either salty version with roasted garlic and herbs or a sweet version with sugar), free water and rice. In this way they are trying to get clients but… they all do the same! It was surprising how many very very similar restaurants we saw - they have the same promotions, same dishes, almost the same prices!

Amok

Places

▫️Siem Reap: Angkor Wat is very expensive: 37$!
For architecture lovers there are 3-day passes but if you are not an expert and not especially interested in such topics one day will be enough. With organised trips, you would usually see 4-6 temples and it is already a decent amount of information to remember and distance to walk;

▫️Siem Reap is also a good place for party people! There are hostels that have a DJ even during the day and a lot of young people come to this city just for fun!🍻🕺💃🏻;

▫️ Phnom Penh - Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 Prison) - whether you are a history expert or not, this is definitely a place to see "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau you have a lot of emotions, thoughts, and prayers in your heart and brain. Visiting S-21 is the mix of all those plus the awareness of how not long ago it was! We met one of the 12 people who survived S-21;
▫️ Night Market - famous night markets are in both of the mentioned cities but they are very different! In Siem Reap it is full of ice cream stands, places to get a fish massage and it is kind of mixed with pub street so it is mainly a party place. In Phnom Pengh night market is much calmer and its special characteristics are stands with ready, cheap and really good looking food that you can eat sitting on the floor on special carpets!

Working in a hostel for free

Events & Meetings

▫️ We tried to find some interesting business event in the capital but unfortunately, during our almost two-weeks long stay there was nothing really interesting;
▫️ However, we met interesting people in our hostels. Some of them would stay in hostels for free working there a few hours per day - without any contract. It is a legal thing as they do not receive any payment - they can just stay and eat for free in the hostel. If you do not work it is a way to save some money and get some experience!

Traveller advice

▫️ You can easily travel by bus inside the country and even to neighbouring countries 🙂 If you need a visa, for example to Vietnam you can do it even in your hotel or a travel agency;
▫️ There are a lot of companies selling trips by Tuk-tuk (1-day trips) and buses. Before booking in your hotel check travel companies - sometimes the price is 50% lower (the same for visa and other services);
▫️ Negotiate prices and preferably ask some friend about fair price before paying for something. It works especially well with Tuk-tuks;
▫️ Come prepared with dollars and that way you can avoid ATM fees and exchange rates - you can pay practically everywhere with dollars 💰 ;
▫️ You can be tempted to rent a motorbike but in Cambodia it may not really pay off. There are situations in which police stops you and as legally you cannot drive you do not get fine but you need to bribe them!
▫️ In Siem Reap we found one of the best hostels that we have stayed in so far. As we do not promote such places on our website, if you need a place in Siem Reap simply leave us a message 😉

Transport in Phnom Penh

Gallery