As I mentioned before, during the day, while the tourists are hitting the temples, Siem Reap is a calm and fairly sleepy city. Whether it is due to the heat (95+ F, and humid), or the laid back attitude, things move at a pretty slow pace.
We had decided to keep our last day in Siem Reap wide open, just walking around the city a bit.
Among the more interesting (at least for us) things we saw, was the Shrine to Ya Tep, a local spirit who is said to bring good luck. We thought the location of the shrine, in a traffic circle, in the middle of a street was fascinating.
Right across the street is the Royal Gardens, and the Shrine to Preah Ang Chek & Preah Ang Chorm, two local dieties.
Walking(very slowly) alongside the Siem Reap River, we made our way back to the Psar Chas (Old Market) area, and stopped to have some iced coffee at a popular Vietnamese Restaurant in the area called Soup Dragon. While having our coffee, we saw a Monk stop by, and various customers and employees would walk over to the Monk, hand Him an offering, and receive a blessing:
The Missus was enchanted with the idea, and went over to the Monk, and passed over a few Riel (but did not touch the monk...that is a no-no). Suddenly overcome with indecision....not knowing what to do....instead of receiving any blessing, She high-tailed it back to our table instead. Leaving the Monk with a bemused, somewhat puzzled look on his face.
The coffee had stimulated our appetites, and we decided to grab a bite at a place we passed several times on previous evenings.
All over Cambodia, we found that a typical little eatery, or even cart for that matter, would have a collection of pots sitting on a table. It is common to walk on up to the pots, open the various lids(if there were lids), peer inside, and order what you wish. Every night we'd pass this little place, and the Missus would inevitably stop and start opening lids, checking out what was being served that day. Usually, because it was later in the evening, there wasn't much left. But on this day, the pots had just been brought out.
So I got a nice bowl of Beef Stew.
Very much like a cross between Chinese and Vietnamese Beef Stew, full of star anise and pepper flavor.
The Missus got a Hot and Sour Pork Soup with what we usually call Ong Choi or Water Spinach.
Each of us also received a plate of excellent Jasmine Rice. A little bowl of fish sauce and chilies was provided. Along with the roll of tissue, a container of utensils was placed at the table along with a tin cup of boiling water. We learned that the hot water was used to sterilize our fork and spoon.
At first we thought that this was such a nice, thoughtful gesture, showing concern to us tourists. But as locals started to pour in, they were accommodated in the same manner.
We sat, chatted, and watched the stream of folks stopping by, many with "tiffin containers", picking up lunch.
Lunch for two, with rice, and a large bottle of water ran us about $3.50/US. It was funny, the Lady running the place had remembered us, since we had passed by every evening. And so we felt that we should eat here.
After lunch we wandered around Psar Chas a bit.
And even though the market is full of stalls selling various tourist knick-knacks and such, during the day there were much more locals around. And many of the booths sold items such as various dried fish and meats.
And one entire side of Psar Chas was dedicated to eateries just like the one we had lunch at.
We really enjoyed the vibe....very relaxed. It may have been very hot, and all the tourists were either visiting the ruins or in their air-conditioned hotels taking a nap....but no time was better than now for an intense chess match!
On the way back to the hotel we passed another street full of stands and couldn't help but go and explore.
The Missus claims that the Longan She ate in Cambodia was the best She's ever had.
And having been allowed to taste one, I'd agree....even though one of neighbors growing up had a Longan tree, these were much sweeter.
We also saw a very popular cart selling snails. Half of the snails were plain, the other half looked to be seasoned with chili pepper.
Later that evening we got our first, and thankfully only, tuk-tuk ride (a story for later), and per the Missus' wishes had Indian Food for dinner again, this time at a restaurant called New Dehli, which turned out to be quite good. I had the Mutton Thali, the Missus the Vegetarian Thali.
Yes, Siem Reap is full of surprises.