What’s the saying? When in Rome, do as the Romans do…
The moment I arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia, I was instructed to remove my shoes at the door of the hotel lobby out of respect for their culture. A lot of travel and very little down time left me a little bleary about when the shoes go back ON. As a result we spent our first hours in Cambodia barefoot as we walked to dinner and during our leisurely stroll down the sandy unpaved and primitive road.
Many tuk-tuk drivers came by asking if we needed a lift somewhere. It wasn’t until a local laughed and asked where our shoes were that we figured it out. I would recommend that while it is fun to try and fit in in a foreign country—make sure you know the rules of engagement. The locals in Cambodia are thrilled to help us out, but they got quite a kick out of the barefoot Americans walking down the filthy street that even they wouldn’t dare do barefoot.
This lovely little town is only 7 square kilometers, but the population is beginning to boom because of tourism. Americans used to be the #1 tourist in Cambodia. After 9/11 everything changed. The Japanese, Germans and Koreans top their list of visitors now and Americans rank 11th in terms of tourists here. So, needless to say they are happy to see us. David and I make sure to tip well and show our appreciation for their graciousness.
Laundry is a big industry here because the tourists need their things washed. I got quite a kick out of asking about the laundry service at my hotel. It is actually same-day service….not because they are that efficient or have machines to do it…but because the blistering sun dries things in a very short period of time so I have laundry returned by afternoon.
I went from busy Ho Chi Minh City, to the rustic and quaint corners of Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is suddenly getting more primitive, but the quaint culture is lovely to me.