Street #8-A A +A
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
WHEN the sun sets over Siem Reap, the city turns a couple of notches quieter. It’s pretty much the life you experience in a province – turn in early, wake up early.
But there is loudness in the quiet at nightfall. With the rising popularity of Siem Reap as a tourist destination, there is a part of town where the tourists head to after a day of temple hopping and embracing solemnity to get their fix of “reality” (that equates to metropolis vibe). Loud, bright and vibrant, it’s the magnetic spot I refer to as the Bermuda Triangle where all the tuktuks are drawn, with or without fare.
The happening spot is at the downtown area where the old market, quaint boutiques ran by local artists and the concentration of bars and restaurants are. It gets even busier at sun down, the neon lights start flashing and the music turned decibels higher.
I was told that streets in Siem Reap are identified according to numbers and only the main roads and thoroughfares bear names. Is it a coincidence that the economically rewarding street within the bustling triangle bears the lucky number 8 (at least for the Chinese numerology anyway)?
If you’ve been to Siem Reap, I bet you’ve walked along Street 8. Maybe you know it for it more popular name – Pub Street. As one local told me, it was referred to as such because the street is totally lined with pubs (but more restaurants) and the name stuck.
Yes, this street in indeed the busiest, brightest and the noisiest. On the couple of nights I hanged out with friends, I got the vibe of Khaosan Road in Bangkok – casual, fun and entertaining, a nice place to get rest our tired, temple-ran feet over a cold Khmer beer and cuisine (or you can opt for a foot spa/massage by humans or fish at the end of the street). Although there are several joints with blaring music that spill to the street, the other watering holes offering kinder amplifications to the eardrums.
No soul leaves this street without a smile on the face. Hours are happy on this street from opening to closing of the establishments. Drinks are very affordable, beers are priced cheaply and cocktails offered at two for the price of one. Gulp. Smile.
As for the cuisine, the Khmer preparation leans to the sweeter side, which is to be balanced by the spiciness of chili served along with the other condiments. If you don’t like your food spicy, then the sweet flavor of the food will definitely stand out (or you can order extra rice). Don’t come looking for fancy fare in this area, please.
Check this area out when you make it Siem Reap. Who knows you might be lucky and bump into Angelina J. or some other Hollywood star who happens to be in town to shoot another tomb raiding film.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 13, 2012.