Guide to Siem Reap: Getting Off the Beaten Track
There are more things to see in Siem Reap besides the temples of the Angkor Wat complex. Siem Reap has so much more to offer. If you have more than one day in Siem Reap, you might want to see the beautiful waterfall up Mt Kulen, plus the mountain itself has many hidden treasures you can explore, Tonle Sap lake which is the heart of Cambodia. Tonle Sap lake is really good to visit in wet season. The people that live there have built their houses so they are higher then the raising waters, this makes it truly become a floating village. We have many museums that show our history and culture from thousands of years ago to more resent history. The local market, of which Siem Reap has 3 main ones, but there are many more. The local kids really love to practice their English with foreigners. We have a diverse range of lifestyles, depending on the district, but the heart of the culture is still the same. You can visit local farms and, local pagodas. You can explore the local backroads and local hospitality, especially the beauty of countryside, which will offer you the fresh air, the nice sky, the rice field, the beautiful sun and the friendly buffalos and cows. In this post, we’re going to outlines the top things to do in Siem Reap countryside.
Local Vegetable Farm
Getting away from city to see some of these different sights will bring you to the red and dusty road. It is this road that will lead you to the vegetable farm. Once you arrive, you will meet a friendly local farmer who will greet you with a smile. They most likely wont be able to speak much English if any, but they will try. Moreover, you will learn the way of greeting and to speak the first khmer word “Chhom Reap Sur” which means “Hello”. Not only will you learn how to greet but also you will learn how to grow vegetable, the type of vegetable, and how many foods are cooked with those vegetable also, the daily life of vegetable farmer.
Local Ourtdoor Market
The market is a super busy place every morning. The people are rushing to grab the freshest meat and vegetables they can get their hands on for cooking at home. Since lots of people don’t have a fridge and all the things at the market are not frozen. Its also a common place for grabbing desert, snack, fruits, clothes, house hold staff etc. If you really want to experience the Khmer people go to your local market and experience for yourself first hand.
Rice Paddies Field
The rice fields of Siem Reap are some of the most photogenic places to visit. In the wet season they are a stunning green, as far as the eyes can see. While you are exploring around the rice field, the birds or flamingo will flying up to the sky to give you a chance for the best nature shots and the buffalo or cow will keep eye contact with you like you are a super star as you take their photo. Once you Arrive at the rice field, you will learn how to grow rice, how to harvest rice, how to store rice, the type of rice, what are other life lives in rice field and learn that rice is not only for steam to eat.
Local Sugarcane Juice Store
Sugarcane juice is one of the juice that is well known in the countryside you will find it everywhere. When you reach the place, a friendly lady will give you a warm welcome, along with their cold sugarcane juice and a big smile. In addition, you will learn how they support their daily life and live in the traditional house which is high up from the ground.
Home Made Rice Wine
There is a small family business that supplies to their village almost every day. You probably don’t know that in Cambodia, it is said that rice wine can cure the backache, help the mother produce more breastfeeding for baby, massage, medicine, etc. So, how is rice wine made? What do they use to burn in 12 hours to get 60 litter of rice wine? Why is it 70 percentage of alcohol? Experience it! Then you will know all.
Mushroom Farm (Oyster Mushroom)
Can you imagine what it looks like? It is not planted on the soil. It’s growing up in a wall covered from the sunshine, It is watered three times per day. Surprisingly, the farmer get up super early and picking up the mushroom at 1 am in the morning and collect at least 30kg minimum per day. To know how long it takes to grow the mushroom and how it look, you should come to the farm.
Buddhist Temple (Pagoda)
The main religion in Cambodia is Buddhism. So, pagoda (place of worship/temple)is the place where the religion spread out from.
Once you step in the gate of a pagoda, the first building you come across should be “Preah Vihear” which means “Church” in English. Outside of the hall is the traditional structure with the golden color (Some pagoda are different color) and inside, there is a lot of paintings describing the Buddha’s story on the wall of that hall, also with the big Buddha statue. Preah Vihear is the place where the monks do their meditation and where the gathering of the monks and older people on the Buddha’s day occurs (In Cambodia, when people get old, they will go to the pagoda to make themselves living in peace with Buddha lesson), also the transfer of food to people’s ancestors, especially on the big ceremony like “Khmer New Year”.
On the other side, there are classrooms for the monks to study. Not only the Buddha lesson but also the general knowledge likes primary school and high school. Furthermore, the classrooms are giving a chance to the villager kids, who cannot afford to study other languages in the private school, to learn English.
Another building is the place where the monks have breakfast and lunch (the monk can eat from sunrise till noon 12pm that is the monk rule). This building is open for the homeless people who can’t afford to buy themselves food and also the homeless animals such as cat, dog, or pig and chicken sometimes and those animals are living peacefully in the pagoda.
They usually have a lot of rooms for the monks to stay or sleep. And there are the places for the nun who want to live in the peace to stay also.
When you go to the back there are the cemeteries like a tiny temple with different color next to each other. Cemetery is for storing a jar of ashes from burning the dead body and it can store more than one jar. That is for family or relative.
After the cemetery, last point of the pagoda is the place for burning a dead body or celebrating the funeral that a family, relative, neighbor, coworker or friends gathering together to see the face of the dead person for the last time.
In short, there is so much more to see and explore in Siem Reap. There is so much history and culture to experience that will make you fall in love with the place and make you want to keep coming back for more. Come and experience the real Cambodia with our local experts at Siem Reaper. There is no reason to be just a mere tourist anymore, let Siem Reaper team show you the authentic version of our country has to offer.
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