Siem Reap Cambodia October – November 2016 (18 photos)

Siem Reap is the gateway to Angkor Wat and Angkor. The city is rapidly changing in response to increasing tourism and it’s character is being changed by tourism. There are areas where you will see more tourists than locals and there are other areas like local markets where tourists rarely go.

Wandering the streets of Siem Reap is a good way to experience the city and see an unusual mix of old and new.

Laneways one minute become kitchens and markets the next.

There’s a certain level of fascinating chaos on the streets there which you soon become used to.

Footpaths are commonly used for motorcycle parking, store displays and tables with chairs, forcing pedestrians to walk on the street itself in many areas.

Off the main streets, smaller streets are often unsealed. I accidentally stumbled upon a nice small family restaurant on one of these small streets. Not the sort you’d find in a guidebook. The food tasted good, was cheap and I didn’t get sick.

After the first day, I soon realised that the best show in Siem Reap was the traffic on the road itself and I started shooting through the windscreen of my guide’s car on a regular basis.

Mostly, traffic keeps to the right. Above you can see a main road, with a central median strip. Supposedly everyone on the right of the median strip should be going forward. Supposedly.

There are only 4 sets of traffic lights in Siem Reap. Traffic seems to flow reasonably well without them. What I learnt from my usual tuk-tuk driver (Mr Rabo – he’s the greatest) was if there’s a gap, take it, regardless of what side of the road it is on. Sure, he rode over several kerbs and we almost got hit by other vehicles, but it was part of the experience.

Once you overcome the anxiety of potentially being in an accident, you can sit back and enjoy the show. I think the most I saw on any one motorbike was 5 people.

On my last full day in Siem Reap, I just stood at this roundabout for an hour or so and took photos of the passing parade. Coming from a country with strict road rules, this was quite an unusual sight.

This week’s Weekly Photo challenge topic is UNUSUAL. The guest host is me.

At the time, I actually did think that little girl above was in control of the bike. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen that occur.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

The streets of Siem Reap


84 thoughts on “The streets of Siem Reap

  1. Beautiful street photography in broad daylight. Sounded like a very adventurous time on the roads for you. When I lived in Malaysia, I’d see 3-4 people on a motorbike at one time…but never 5. It’s just the way life is in some places around the world. It’s amazing how kids don’t seem afraid on the bikes.

    • Thank you. After the first couple of rides in a tuk-tuk during peak hour, I started to crave the excitement. LOL πŸ™‚

      Actually, I would imagine that traffic in Siem Reap would grind to a halt if Australian road rules applied. That is their way of life and I was happy to experience it.

      • Lol indeed. The tuk tuks were pushing their luck every so often, and coming out on the right end. What’s not to like πŸ™‚ Or maybe they thought they were driving a famous person around and they made sure to be very careful πŸ˜‰

        • It was a great experience. My hotel has its own fleet of tuk tuks for guests and I got to know 3 of the guys very well. Mr Rabo would often be the first to drive to greet me when he saw me waiting for a ride.

        • It is so kind of the tuk tuk drivers. The more they establish rapport, the more they’d get a happy customer who won’t mind coming back. You’re probably famous among their circle now πŸ™‚

  2. Just how many folks can you fit on a scooter? Ha ha! I’ve seen 6… the last girl sat on a board that had 2 more girls in the sides 🀀 scary!

    “The food tasted good, was cheap and I didn’t get sick.” Always a good thing!!

    • 6? I would have loved to have seen that. I stayed at that roundabout for as long as I could before moving on. I really wanted a photo of 5 on a bike. πŸ™‚

      That meal was towards the end of the trip. I didn’t want to take the chance on Day 1, just in case. πŸ™‚

  3. Great gallery of people, streetlife and dangerous traffic. Strangely enough you are not afraid when you are there…but looking at these photos makes me shiver a bit. So many people on one single vehicle. the mother wearing a helmet – but not the kid in front…a.s.o. But they are good at manoevering any vehicle it seems.

    • Yes, it seems so strange to us with so many piled onto a bike, also with parcels and goods. We wouldn’t imagine doing it (and probably get would get arrested or have our licence removed for doing it) but this is what they are used to.

  4. Wow! Amazing pictures. Definitely an unusual cultural experience from my perspective. I’m not not sure how I would handle the chaos! But visiting there would have to be fascinating! I, too, at first thought that little girl on the motor bike was doing the steering until I took a much closer look and saw the lady’s other hand guiding! LOL!

    • Actually, I’m surprised I didn’t see more accidents than I saw, and I saw none! The traffic just seemed chaotic and it was exhilarating to be part of it. Scary at first, then it become part of the fun. πŸ™‚

  5. Fantastic images that really capture the vibe and feel of life there. Having a recent mishap with my motorcycle, all those kids on two wheels kinda freaks me out. πŸ™‚

    • Thank you. Yes, their safety laws are different to ours. I saw kids sitting on boxes on the motorcycle seat; being held by adults; and driving (in the smaller towns). Quite a spectacle to see. Shocking at first but then you get used to it.

  6. Great street shots, as always. Market and street are where you get to know the culture. This market must be a fun place to take photos. The girl was in control of the bike was a amazing capture, scary though. It looks like BKK has more street rules than Siem Reap. πŸ™‚

    • Yes, I don’t think there were many enforced road rules there judging by the number of people driving on the wrong side of the road and the lack of safety measures I’m used to. I was actually a little scared then excited when my tuk tuk driver started driving on the wrong side of the road. Might as well experience what the locals do. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Thanks, Amy. πŸ™‚

  7. I was a biker for many years, can’t handle a big bike now, but the test to ride was so strict that like you Mr Dragon, I find this disregard for health and safety as simply terrifying. People almost exclusively wear helmets to ride bicycles in the UK and a h helmet is mandated by law to ride a motorcycle. An interesting post. As ever, so colourful from this part of the world.

    • Same here. Motorcyclists, bicyclists, even children on a 3 wheeled toy scooter must wear helmets. And seeing motorcyclists in shorts and thongs – ouch!!!

      But it’s a different way of life and a great experience. Yes, it’s a very colourful country and people.

  8. J.D. Riso says:

    Reminds me of my trip to Thailand so many years ago. You soon realize the futility of fear and just go with it. The chaos seems to work just fine. The women holding infants while riding on the backs of motorcycle taxis was a hair raising sight, though. Great photos, as always.

    • Exactly. People holding babies on a fast moving bike is not something I like to see but you just get used to it. It works for them and imposing foreign traffic rules may just completely shut down traffic movement.


  9. KG says:

    he he πŸ˜† ! you will “love” Indian traffic then… Try Bangalore on its peak hour πŸ˜‰ You can get all sorts of expressions from people…

    • Noted and I’ll keep that on my list. On my next trip, I’m contemplating riding the metro in peak hour and the warnings about overcrowding are making me reconsider. πŸ™‚

  10. Sharon Dear says:

    Great photos! The U.S. government kind of has too much interference in our lives, our children must wear a helmet riding a bicycle. As a mother, I would have a helmet on my child if she were riding with me. I noticed that the streets were very clean and I wondered if they didn’t have any potholes.

    • Thank you. When helmet laws were first introduced here for children on bicycles, it seemed silly. A few falls never “hurt” me. But it’s accepted practice. I guess you get used to doing it.

      I don’t remember potholes in the towns but out in the country there were massive ones on dirt roads.

  11. Terrific. The busyness, the cavalier approach to safety, the street stalls and dirt roads…it all reminds me of my all-too-brief stay in the Philippines. Thanks for putting up the pics.

  12. Love your photos, as always. I stopped writing admiration notes; I hate to keep repeating myself. πŸ˜‰
    Other than tuk-tuk and driving on the wrong side, it sure looks like Taiwan.
    Have a wonderful day.

    • You’re welcome. I’m sure you’ll revive some great memories when you do get the chance to review your photos. I like to wait a little before editing my photos for that reason.

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