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Magnificent Siem Reap 7: People watching

We Reapers are right creeps. We like to sit, watch the world go by, and be a little nosey. Whether its playing 'spot the coolest tuk tuk', or 'spot the palest newbie', everyone has their favourite vantage point. So for people-watching pleasure, here’s a few of our best spots.

The Venue:
The Red Piano
The Vibe:
For those who like to spy from above

The Vantage:
If you really want to do nothing else but gaze at passers-by, then doing it from a safe distance is probably recommended. Catch the madness of Pub Street, spy brave punters trying their first street grub, or spot laden-down shoppers make their way back from the night market with their haul. While we don’t have a Sisowith Quay of balcony bars to choose from, The Red Piano, with its well-positioned gallery, busy corner location and big cocktail list, comes pretty darn close.

The Venue:
Riverside
The Vibe:
Hang out and re-live the teen dream

The Vantage:
There are many stops along the river that suit being pensive and observational. But if you want a site in the heart of the action,  then sit down on or near the Old Market to Art Market wooden footbridge. A nice place to hang at dusk, and a popular spot for gaggles of local teens and young lovers. Top tip: bring a cheeky bottle of wine and a date and reminisce about the romance of your misspent youth while watching puppy love wander by.

The Venue:
Angkor What?
The Vibe:
See Pub Street from the eye of the storm

The Vantage:
Sitting outside Angkor What? is not for the faint hearted, but it’s the perfect spot to see revellers dance in the street, spy on flirty backpackers, and sample chat-up lines. Watch street kids manage to surpass drinkers in energy, dancing with baskets around their necks long after bedtime. You may have chatty folks at the big tables and potent drinks in big vessels trying to distract you, but if you stay focused (and sober) you’ll catch a glimpse Siem Reap’s drunk, debauched wild side.


The Venue:
Aboard a tuk tuk
The Vibe:
Why wait for the people to pass you?

The Vantage:
If you want to watch the slow pace of village life unfold before your eyes, you’ll be waiting a long time in one spot. An alternative is to people watch at a faster pace aboard a moto or tuk tuk. Pick a direction and head nowhere to witness rice picking, buffalo bath time, hammock hangers, and high-fiving kids. A people-watching expedition allows you to observe country life without imposing, and taking mental pictures instead of photographs.


The Venue:
Viva
The Vibe:  
The busiest spot in town

The Vantage:
Most of Siem Reap town life can be crammed into one corner – the junction between the Old Market and Viva. Tuk tuk drivers and street kids, market sellers and motos, plus tourists from every country you can imagine; all drive past, amble by and gather right here. Textbook people-watching potential at any time of the day. As for the margaritas and tacos? Well they just add to the experience.


The Venue:
Lucky Mall
The Vibe:
Survey the street with an ice-cream in hand

The Vantage:
This one is a three step process:
1. Select a waffle cone ice-cream cup from inside the Mall (may I recommend the white chocolate flavour?)
2. Find yourself a sunny spot on the bench out front.
3. Take in the world and its traffic while basking in the sun-soaked warmth and the brain-freeze of the ice-cream. A sweet spot for so many reasons. Haven’t had enough? Simply rinse, and repeat.


The Venue:
The Royal Gardens
The Vibe:
Observe Siem Reap’s spiritual side

The Vantage:
Positioned in the epicentre of some of Siem Reap’s most gorgeous buildings, this is perhaps one of the lovelier places to spot a coming together of locals and tourists, monks and kids. Position yourself near the shrine and watch moto-loads of the faithful come with offerings of lotus flowers and incense. By day, see birds released from cages,  and by dusk catch the fruit bats do laps around the trees – it may not be all people watching, but bird watching can be just as fun.

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