Taking a stroll through the streets of Siem Reap has all the relaxing charm that a swimsuit model enjoys while walking though aconstruction site. The principal item offered here is transportation, mostly tuk-tuks and motorbike-taxi. The streets are lined with hawkers, every one of whom will start calling to you from half a block away. Most will start walking toward you (stalking might be a better term for it). Ignoring them only makes it worse, and saying no is only slightly more helpful. In fact, the only polite part of exchange is that, should there be a small cluster of drivers, they won’t come at you all at once. But no matter how many—three, four, or seven—they will all ask, and keep asking until you are out of earshot.
Typical conversations go like this:
You want tuk-tuk, sir?
“Oh (feigned surprise), no thank you.”
Oh, yes, sir. I show you thirteen temples.
“No, thank you.”
Yes, cheap. No commission.
“No, no, no.”
Yes, yes, yes!
At this point, if there’s still time, the man will lower his voice:
You want smoke? You want woman? And, yes, as of last night I’ve now twice heard the nightmarishlyhorrible: My sister very pretty.
It would seem that everything is for sale in Siem Reap, be it worth buying or not.