Another posting in PF egroups, Dec. 26, 2000:
I'm now at Siem Reap, about 300 kms. & 8-9 hrs, by land, or 5 1/2 hrs. by boat, from Phnom Penh. We took the boat yesterday, a fast boat. We passed by Thon le sap river and lake, and it's a very big lake: more than 1 hr. of travel, you see nothing but waters! Before docking, we passed by a community of boat-living people, half-Viets, half-Cambodians, I'm told. There's even a floating Caltex gas station on boat!
Siem Reap is about 10 kms. from the port. This province thrives on tourism. Thousands of tourists come here every week. Because of this, many people, especially students, speak English, though a bit broken, but better than Vietnamese's english literacy. I just think that perhaps, our Dept. of Tourism and local businessmen can learn a lot from this place and further boost our tourism potentials. This place attracts both the high-end (there's even a 4-star hotel here, I guess) and low-end (back-packer) tourists.
Foreigners come here to see the well-prrotected trees and 9th-14th century Angkor Wat structures and temples, reputedly the most wonderful in southeast Asia. Though Cambodia is generally denuded, Angkor's park is full of big and mature trees. Just another proof that tourism & its money greatly help preserve the trees and the environment, while poverty kills trees. Some of those trees I can only find in some mts. we used to climb like dipterocarp species found in Mt. Apo (Davao), Mt. Makiling (Los Banos), Mt. Halcon (Mindoro), etc.
Internet costs in vietnam is around $0.80/hr, in Phnom Penh $2.30/hr, here in siem reap $5/hr, some shops even charge $7/hr! But then, at least it's available. I get to read some newspapers somehow...
Posted Dec. 29, 2000:
More observations that I want to share with you here in Siem Reap, Cambodia:
1. This is a highly "dollarized" economy. Even ordinary food stalls, newspaper stalls, accept $. The going rate is 1$=3,800 riels (3,900 in Phnom Penh). Say your bill is 6,000 riels, you pay $2, they will give you the change in riels.
2. Economists and planners of Cambodia are worrying about the future of garments industry, where supposedly 90% of its exports revenue come from. But a growing number of analysts are pointing at the high and growing potential of tourism. Earlier I said thousands of tourists come here "every week". Change that to"every day"!
3. To give you an idea of wage structure here: the lowest paid govt. employee receives only "slightly more than $10/month"! Next year they are planning a 15% wage increase, and to kick out "thousands of ghost employees" in govt. (pretty much like the Philippines ha).
4. But tourism-related industries here are making a lot of money. Our rental for motorbikes with driver is $5/day; others charge higher. Food here is more expensive than in Vietnam, almost comparable to those in M. Manila. We stay though in a budget guesthouse, $4/day 2-beds, with own bath and fan, and free laundry!
5. There are internet kiosks/shops here. But here in Siem Reap, they connect you first to Phnom Penh (siams.com) before you get connected to the site you want to go.