travelgrove Reviews

Experiencing Angkor Wat, Puok, Cambodia

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MadSuh's pictureby MadSuh review
added on 13th of September, 2007

I am really not sure what to write about, one of the wonders of the world or the mess this country is in. I have no doubt that greed is what rules in Cambodia and I have also no doubt that greed makes great riches and destroys them as well. Let me tell you that what’s left of the great Khmer culture is lies distrust. I already mentioned the border and begging children, but Angkor was the peak of this. First of all there are a billion children running after you to sell you things. People have these super-primitive sales methods and I will point them out to you below, I am sure there are a lot more but these are the most obvious.

1) Children - the kids that sell you stuff are sometimes only 5 years old. When the kid gets tired, someone will be pushing them back towards the tourists and then they go back again and try to sell you something. Some people I met on the bus told me that they even saw a mother beat the kids with a stick when they wanted to take a break. Effectiveness: Very High, Damage: Medium-High

2) Persistence– The kid will keep saying the same few words about 100 times and keeps following you “bracelet only $1, sir”. After about 10 minutes you get tired of this and may buy something. Effectiveness: Low, Damage: Medium

3) Where are you from – Very effective the first time you hear it, especially when you are with a group of people from different countries. The conversations follows a simple pattern: Kid: Where are you from, Sir? Me: Germany. Kid: Germany … (short thinking break) … capital of Germany – Berlin, Germany 83Mio people. Then they turn to the next guy in the group… Where are you from sir?.... etc … All kids are being told to study these country facts so they do this trick that reminds me of some monkey act. Initially, this works because you are just surprised that the bright 5 year-old knows this, but then it’s really annoying because it’s the most obvious way of tricking you and making you look stupid. Effectiveness: initially: 80% and quickly dropping to 0%.

4) What’s your name – This is a rather subtle approach where the person selling will ask you for your name when she can tell tell that they remembered only your name and that you should buy a drink from them. Then when you come back after hours of sightseeing, they will yell your name and tell you that you told them you’d buy something later. Effectiveness – 5%

5) You are from “…..”, the kids tell each other where you are from after one kid has asked you and then basically just tells the next kid so that kid can now guess the country you are from. Effectiveness: Low, Damage: Low

6) No change sir – Yesterday some Tuc Tuc driver was hoping for a $6 tip when I had already overpaid for the quick trip (I had to be quick,no time to haggle. The total was $4 and afterwards he asked for a tip. I said $4 is enough (a teacher makes $35 a month). Anyhow, I pull out a $10 bill and he says… ten dolla… no no cannot… no change. He was hoping for me that it would be ok and he could keep the rest. I turned away walking towards the hotel as he pulled out a stack of dollar bills. He must have had about 200 bills there and mostly singles. Sometimes I think people in this country just think that we have unlimited funds and we are stupid at distributing those. Effectiveness: Low, Damage: Relatively High

7) Children crying: Not much to say. The children cry for a dollar because they are hungry and it’s super cute ones, too. Anyhow, one thing is sure, they are not starving in a country where you can stick a dry branch in the ground and it will start growing again. There are so many fruits, vegetables and most importantly most people have their own chicken, pigs etc. Anyhow, one thing the country is rich with is food, so you should really not fall for this, but then if you ever see a kid like that cry chances are that you’ll give her money just to stop crying. Effectiveness: Very High, Damage: Small

8) Confusion and leaving you with no choice – this is common of course when you enter the country. You have no place to go and people escort you and taking you exactly where they need to in order to get you to spend some cash. I have written about this already so I won’t go over it again. Effectiveness: Very High, Damage: Very High

9) Psst, I can very cheap for you, sir – A simple strategy, that basically everybody is trying to use is making things 5 times more expensive inititially and then lowering the price to about 25% of the original price. You think you got a good deal…. Think again, because he still makes some 200% premium. Effectiveness: Medium, Damage: High

10) Corruption: We talked to tourists that have paid half for the Visa after calling the embassy. Unreal, you are at the regular border and the officers simply tag on a 100% mark-up. Everybody quotes you the same price no matter where you ask. I bet Angkor’s $20 one day pass can be discounted as well, just like the boat trip we took, which is $20 per person or $15 if 4 or more. We paid $15 with my friend each, which is still super expensive, the other tourists were paying full rate though. We did not go to the local waterfall, which also costs $20 entry and is just a few meters high as far as I could tell from the postcards of it I had seen. Effectiveness: Very High, Damage: Very High

Many of these sales strategies are combined, repeated, and adjusted as needed to get the highest return. I am sure that they have plenty others as well, but the point is that it’s really just distrustful people that we have met. I don’t think they would steal from you, but they will rip you off where ever they can. This is my first very negative entry into this journal so you can imagine how bad I feel about this. I did talk to a monk on the mountain above Angkor Wat and he basically approved. I strongly believe that this will seriously hurt this country. I can’t tell about the trend and people have told me that in the past it was worse, but I can hardly believe that. Coming to Siem Reap has been a very difficult experience for me, seeing the beautiful land, the rich cultural remains and then these very primitive people was really disappointing. No wonder the Thai empire broke the bower of the Khmer Empire and Cambodia has never recovered. The name of the city SIem Reap, which means “Thai Defeat” already shows their inferiority complex towards the Thai.


Things about Puok you may be interested in

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Amazing Thailand - overview

1. Aug 18, 2007 Arriving back to Bangkok (Bangkok)  (* 13)
2. Aug 19, 2007 A little more of Bangkok (Bangkok)  (* 31)
3. Aug 20, 2007 Still in Bangkok (Bangkok)  (* 31)
4. Aug 21, 2007 Adventures in Ao Nang (Muang Krabi)  (* 7)
5. Aug 22, 2007 Railay Beach - Nice Place (Ban Khlong Yang)  (* 63)
6. Aug 23, 2007 The best beaches and islands of Thailand (Krabi)  (* 87)
7. Aug 24, 2007 A quick stop and great food in Surat (Surat)  (* 11)
8. Aug 25, 2007 Koh Tao - My favorite Thai island (Ko Phangan)  (* 72)
9. Sep 4, 2007 From Koh Tao via Chumpon to Bangkok (Bangkok)  (* 52)
10. Sep 5, 2007 Back again in Bangkok (Bangkok)  (* 185)
11. Sep 9, 2007 Traveling to Siem Reap, Cambodia (Siem Reap)
12. Sep 10, 2007 Siem Reap, like in the tales (Siem Reap)  (* 71)
13. Sep 12, 2007 Experiencing Angkor Wat (Puok)  (* 204)
14. Sep 13, 2007 Great days in Phnom Penh (Phnom Penh)  (* 81)
15. Sep 14, 2007 Adventurous vacation in Sianoukville (Sihanoukville)  (* 39)

Start from beginning1 - 15          Journal overview


Recommended Phnom Penh Guide

Phnom Penh Sights

Many of the city’s museums are tied to painful events in this city’s history. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum tells the gruesome tale of the over 14,000 people tortured and murdered by the Khmer Rouge. The museum displays a large number of photographs and other artifacts. Until 2002, the museum used to house a horrific map of Cambodia made of 300 skulls, and even today, there are entire cabinets filled with skulls of the victims. The Documentation Centre of Cambodia is an impressive source of information about the Khmer Rouge regime, and it is highly recommended to visitors who are interested in the country’s recent history.... Read more »


Recent reviews for Puok

Great days in Phnom Penh - Sep 17, 2007, by MadSuh
After Ankor Wat I probably did what few tourists have ever done. I went back to see the sun set and because I had very little time, I actually took a few pictures of Angkor Wat and then found my Tuc Tuc driver to take me to this small... Read more »

Siem Reap, like in the tales - Sep 10, 2007, by MadSuh
Arriving late in Siem Reap did not give us too many choices. I was a bit hungry so I decided to stop over at the little market across the street and have some dinner. Bad mistake, it seems like the food in Cambodia may not be as clean as it... Read more »

Traveling to Siem Reap, Cambodia - Sep 10, 2007, by MadSuh
I woke up a bit dizzy from last night’s adventure and really had a hard time getting up. It’s always a pain when you are traveling with a headache and a strange feeling in your stomach. Anyhow, I managed to get a cab to the bus... Read more »

Adventurous vacation in Sianoukville - Sep 17, 2007, by MadSuh
Me and Ivan were up at around 6:30 and quickly had breakfast so we could get down to Sianoukville as early as possible. We took a Tuc Tuc right outside the guesthouse and quickly found the bus station and the right bus. We had a nice little... Read more »


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