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Backpacking subversion in Cambodia

Backpacking subversion in Cambodia

Trip Plan Tags: 
beach + island,
volunteer/philanthropic subversion
Siem Reap,

Starting in Bangkok around the middle of January I will travel overland to Surin then south in to Cambodia to Siem Reap.Staying in a $5 guest house I will visit a different angkor temple each day to take photos after 5 pm when it is free and publicise the results. I refuse to pay $20 to a government that does nothing for the aids or landmine orphans or surviving victims. After a few days in Pnom Penh I'll go to Sihanoukville to volunteer at the rainbow orphanage and lie on the white sand beach.



Sky Bar, Thailand

63–64th Floor, State Tower, 1055 Silom Road
Bangkok 10500, Thailand
Tel: 66 2 624 9555

Perched atop Bangkok's second highest tower, the open-air, neon-lit Sky Bar juts out 64 floors above this urban sprawl, making it the ideal watering hole for those who like to live on the edge. Vertiginous vacationers should keep to street level but even those who ascend to the top of the State Tower building located along the Chao Phraya River may be shocked by the low, transparent railing. Designers play off this element of surprise, so that the talented jazz singer seems perched barely a breath away from an untimely finale when in fact that sheer drop behind the stage hides a sexy glass staircase. The wind has been known to blow over the signature Blue Sky cocktails, made with quadruple-distilled New Zealand vodka, so hold onto purses and perhaps even loved ones. The gusts may make things awkward, but the view makes it a definite have-to-see-once place.

Open daily 6 pm to 1 am.


Abacus, Cambodia

Off Highway 6 (Airport Highway)
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Tel: 855 12 644 286

Though it's a bit hard for first-timers to find (down a quiet lane just beyond the Angkor Hotel, westbound on Highway 6), everything else about Renaud Fichet's relocated restaurant is an upgrade on his former in-town spot. There's a chic air-conditioned dining room as well as a candlelit garden terrace, although Fichet's bon vivant personality—and a clientele of longtime expats—tamps down any white-linen pretensions. But the biggest change is the kitchen, now that talented chef Pascal Schmit, formerly of La Résidence d' Angkor, is directing the show. The nicely plated Continental- and Asian-style fine-dining entrées include T-bone steak with Kampot green-pepper sauce, scallops and crabmeat in ginger-sesame sauce, and crocodile-tail curry. Save room for the crazy-sinful chocolate truffle.—Christopher Cox

Open daily 11 am until late.


Angkor What?, Cambodia

Pub Street
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Tel: 855 12 490 755

The wellspring of Siem Reap saloons, Angkor What? has been "promoting irresponsible drinking since 1998." Enabling prices ($1 for a Beer Lao and $4 for a "whisky bucket," a half-bottle of Mekong, a local swill, mixed with Coke and Red Bull) attract backpackers and budget travelers, who have covered the walls with graffiti—most of it scrawled after a few whisky buckets. It's a lively, albeit loud, place to watch the evening pageantry along pedestrian-only Pub Street. Across the street at Temple Bar, the Beer Lao is pricier ($1.25 a can), the music's even louder and more '80s, and there's a small dance floor, three pool tables, and an imitation bas-relief of Angkor Wat's Churning of the Sea of Milk (855-15-999-909).


Dead Fish Tower Inn, Cambodia

Sivatha Boulevard
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Tel: 855 63 630 377

The Thai-owned Dead Fish Tower Inn has a great airy bar with a nice loft seating area that serves dollar beers and delicious Thai food. It's one of the livelier spots in town, with nightly "entertainment" (free pool tables and its own mini crocodile farm).

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.