Siem Reap Stories and Tips

Lunch at the Angkor Complex

Rice and Chicken  Photo, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Within the Angkor complex, there are a few sheds under which are several food shops. After visiting my third temple, I started to feel a bit hungry so I asked my driver where would be a good place to grab a bite to eat. He replied that he was ready to eat as well, and suggested a particular booth.

After driving for about four to five minutes from Angkor Thom, he pulled into a parking lot of sorts and killed the engine of our tuk tuk. He led the way to one of the sheds and we had a seat at one of the 'restaurants'. I was given a rather thick menu with the different dishes available, complete with a price list.

Now, I am willing to support the Khmer society by buying from the locals, however I draw the line at being ripped off, or treated as a walking wallet! The prices for the meals were beyond ridiculous, and I explained to the owner that I was aware of the extreme cost inflation. She was about to be unreasonable, so I announced that I wouldn't mind waiting until I've finished with the temples to eat downtown for half the price.

Only then, did the price fall to a less insulting price. I ordered a plate of rice with chicken for US $4, when the original asking price was $6. The cost of this very dish at any restaurant outside of the Angkor complex would range from US$2.50 to US$3. This is just to inform future tourists that there is a special surcharge apparently for the luxury of eating within the temple grounds.

After my meal was served, a waitress came over and placed a bowl of soup and a dish with bread rolls in front of my driver. I'm guessing that this is their way of thanking him for bringing me to their establishment. I ordered us some soft drinks at US$1 each, to go with the meal which was quite enjoyable.

Given the fact that it was the rainy season, inside of the sheds were rather damp. There was a considerably large pool of water near to our table, which meant that I had to be careful when maneouvering away from the table. Hammocks were tied up closeby, hanging from the rafters and locals slept the day away.

It was rather strange to eat lunch at a table, with strangers sleeping in their hammocks only a few feet away, but it didn't really bother me. My driver and I spoke quite a bit while we ate. He told me about his family and life in Cambodia and asked me about my country in return. The waitress hovered within close proximity, and was quick to remove glasses and dishes as soon as we were finished with them.

The overall dining experience was quite an adventure. Once you have an open mind and you're not easily offended, you'll be fine with eating a meal in one of the sheds. Be prepared to negotiate the price of the meal to prevent being grossly overcharged, as we the tourists are their 'catch of the day'.

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