My mother is a world-class bargainer. She does all of the car purchasing in our family and knows her business. I think the night market in Siem Reap would give her a run for her money. The market is a sort of colorful maze of clothes, knick-knacks, handbags, hats, decorative items, art, hammocks, and food plus many other things. The shop owners call out as you walk by: “Madame, see what I have,” “Madame, do you want <this item>,” “Madame, I make a good price for you.” My personal favorite was “Madame, I have larger sizes for you.” I am not the usual size for most Cambodians or Thais (thank my busty Northern European forebears), so I get this one a lot. They really should add “good for humility” to the tourist slogans for Cambodia.
The bargaining follows the usual pattern: ask price, ask for discount, start low and work your way up to an agreeable price for both. In general, it’s best not to start the bargaining unless you’re actually prepared to buy. I picked up a few pairs of the ubiquitous, lightweight, elephant-patterned pants for a couple bucks each. The fabric and style make these pants much more comfortable in the extreme heat that’s common here. Plus, elephant patterns are just fun.
After our time in the market, we crossed back over the Siem Reap River to find more market stalls and various other interesting things. There was a real party atmosphere, though mostly with ex-pats and visitors of European or North American origin. One of the stalls we passed offered fish pedicures: you put your feet in a tank with fish who eat the dead skin off your feet. ST was brave enough to try it, and I tried it later in Thailand (another post on that later). One cart was selling all kinds of edible snakes, bugs and spiders. Many carts were also selling various fruits, beverages, and other foods. But knowing we had an early start for our temple trekking the next day, we headed back to the hotel via tuk-tuk for dinner and a few hours’ sleep. Check in tomorrow to read about our sunrise journey through the massive Angkor Wat complex.
Title quote: Christopher Marlowe