September 24, 2018

Siem Reap Travel Diary: Psa Chas (Old Market)

I’m one of those people who believes that travel breaks down routines, monotony and brings back some adventure, excitement, and exploration to people’s lives. For the most part of last year, my life was just pre-occupied with work, blogging-related events and random brunches and night-outs with friends. Nothing really spectacular or mind-blowing. And that, if not for most people, will cause some burn-out. And nothing can cure that for me than board a plane or a boat or a bus and go somewhere, wherever... You know, to fall in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met. (Yes, I got that from a quote which I like so much.)

Together with three of my friends, we planned for an out-of-the country multi-city trip. And these places were our dream destinations for years now. This trip was supposed to happen last 2016 but got put off for unforeseen reasons. Since June of 2017, after booking our flights, I’ve been looking forward to the day when we finally get to board the plane and start our 6-day journey. 

You know how that can be daunting, waiting for around 6 months for something to finally happen. The main airport in Manila is near where I work, and almost every few minutes I can hear airplanes passing by, and I would be so disconsolate thinking about when I’ll get to board one of those planes again and wishing that I can fast-forward time and make it December already. And then time flew fast and it was December.

I couldn’t be more excited as I’ve already done all that I need to do, bought all that I need to bring, planned even the outfits I’ll wear and started packing 2 weeks before the trip. The destination? Siem Reap, Cambodia and Bangkok, Thailand. For the next several posts, I’ll be writing a series about our Siem Reap trip and then we’ll get to Bangkok later on. These blog post series won't be about our itinerary or a guide or review (because for sure there are a hundreds of that already on the internet) but will tackle about my experience during this trip and all other thoughts. Besides this is written 6 months past that trip so this will be more of a reminiscing journal.
We board a plane to Siem Reap on a late night flight and arrived around 10 or 11pm. The hotel we were staying at sent a tuktuk to pick us up, and I couldn't be more ecstatic because by the time I set foot on this foreign land I already got a taste of its culture. Siem Reap for me looks just like any rural tourist area in the Philippines, even its people, the only difference is that all the signage et al, is written in Cambodian.

Our tuktuk driver and tour guide, Sarath (who speaks very good English btw) suggested that we take the Angkor Complex tour the first thing the next morning which everyone agreed to. We have to be up by 3am the following day so we were not able to go out of the hotel to get some grub or even check out Pub Street. We just cleaned up and went straight to bed.

Since we have our flight to Bangkok later that night on our second day in Siem Reap; we weren’t able to check out the night market the day before so we decided to do some shopping after our Angkor Complex tour. We asked our tuktuk driver Sarath to bring us somewhere where we can buy souvenirs to bring back home and he brought us to the area of Siem Reap's Psa Chas or Old Market where tourists can buy various kinds of souvenirs.

It was a huge complex lined with stores selling trinkets, paintings, apparel, accessories, jewelries, decors and other knick-knacks that will remind you of Siem Reap after you leave. Prices are reasonable and Cambodian sellers can communicate well in English. Well just like in the Philippines, almost everyone in Siem Reap knows how to speak English. Actually they know various languages even the hawkers/sellers (both adults and children) around the temples. They even know Filipino! And they can distinguish if you are a Filipino.

You can do some haggling at the old market but just be reasonable. Also, look around first before buying so you can get the best deals. I was able to buy a lot of magnets that I will give away at work and for my other friends in one of the stores inside the complex because I bought a lot the lady gave me some huge discount.

I also bought those Cambodian pants that you can see tourists wearing around. My friend and I got a reasonable discount since we bought a couple. Just ask nicely and Cambodians being nice people will be happy to negotiate with you on a justifiable price.

I regret that I didn't bought one of those paintings that my friend bought and also more of those Cambodian pants thinking I might also find them in Bangkok. But the ones I saw in BKK were different styles from the ones that I bought in Siem Reap. Well, again there goes another reason to go back and stay longer than the time we spent there.

Read more of my Siem Reap 2017 trip:
Siem Reap 2017 Travel Diary: Tanei Boutique Villas
Siem Reap 2017 Travel Diary: Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Siem Reap 2017 Travel Diary: Prasat Bayon: Temple of the Mysterious Stone Face Towers 
Siem Reap 2017 Travel Diary: Prasat Ta Phrom
Siem Reap 2017 Travel Diary: Banana Tree Restaurant and Bar
Siem Reap 2017 Travel Diary: Old Market
Siem Reap 2017 Travel Diary: Temple Bar at Pub Street
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