The next day we had decided to take a day off from temple viewing and instead explore Siem Reap. We rented bicycles and rode up the river a ways, past many more guesthouses intermixed with various river shanties and markets. Then we visited a one day craft fair on the museum grounds. All the vendors were connected with NGOs or charities, many of them providing training and outlets for craft works. Below is a display of silk bed accessories. Many of the goods were very reasonably priced and we found some interesting articles. Since the money was going to good causes we did buy a few small items and had some interesting conversations with people we met while there.
After the craft fair we rode to a cafe (which also sponsored local charities and training) for a bite to eat. Siem Reap seems to have many charitable organizations – no doubt due to its proximity to Angkor and the flood of tourists passing through. We then rode to the city center where we encountered local youths selling postcards, bracelets and books. Often we had fun talks with the kids although we must have been a bit of a disappointment to them as we didn’t buy much from them.
Sue needed a cooler hat so we visited the Old Market where we each bought a hat. Mine turned out to be a bit cooler (literally) as it’s straw. Sue models it below.
While sitting sipping refreshments a load of hay and clay pots went by. Just sitting and watching life go by can be such fun here.
Later in the day we walked over to the Royal Gardens where we saw the beautiful flower below….
and the fruit bats starting to stir in the trees at dusk….
After gawking at the hundreds of fruit bats for a while we went to a nearby restaurant for dinner where we were treated to shadow puppet play. Note the bovine water buffalos!
Next up: Angkor Wat!