Cambodian Capers. Part 1 Siem Riep

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funtop

Cambodian Capers. Part 1 Siem Riep

Post by funtop » Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:25 am

Hi Guys.

Here is the first part of my report on my recent short trip to Cambodia which consisted of spending the first 4 days in Siem Reap and the next 4 days in Phnom Penh.

I am actually on a longer trip which will go on to include 5 days in Pattaya, 5 days in Chiang Mai and the final 5 days in Kuala Lumpur.

Like 'Penguin' who gave an excellent report about Bangkok and Pattaya I am a newbie to the Asian scene although I was in Pattaya about 26 years ago and am looking forward to seeing how it has changed. I think when I was there last time there were only about 4 gay places including the one gogo bar. It will be intersting to see how Cambodian and Thailand places and boys compare.

Similarly to Penguin I have also posted this report both on the Ting Tong and the Gaybutton forums if that is ok.

You will find that being a newbie it takes me a while to become confident in trying to get what I want and that not every night is spent in the arms of my perfect match. Similarly with only having 4 nights in each place I was only able to sample a very small number of the gay places that Cambodia has to offer.


Part One: Siem Reap

A previous report by me in this section (Ting Tong Forum) indicated my dilemma as to where to stay while in Cambodia. In Siem Reap I decided to stay either at the Eight Rooms Guest House or the MENs Hotel. I opted for the MENs Hotel which is more expensive, nearly twice as much actually, but has excellent reviews from all that have stayed there.

After leaving Dublin airport (no, I'm not Irish but that's another story) at 6am I finally arrived at Siem Reap airport some 24 hours later having changed at 2 other airports on route. With hindsight I should have gone straight from the UK to Bangkok like 'Penguin' and after sampling Thailand's delights then gone on to Cambodia.

I had tried to use the Cambodian on-line visa system prior to my arrival but for some reason could not upload my passport photo. I had therefore printed off the visa application form and filled that in and glued my facepic to it in order to save time.

On the final plane journey to Siem Reap from Bangkok airport we were given 3 different forms to fill in one being a smaller version of the form I had printed off. I filled in the other 2 on board but retained my original printed form.

I arrived at Siem Reap Airport at about 12.30pm.

When I got to the arrivals hall a big group of neatly uniformed officials where all sat in a long row greeting us, in fact they seemed to outnumber the passengers on the plane.
Of course when I presented my own printed form I was told it was not acceptable and I had to fill in the other smaller version.
This was not an issue as such as quite a few passengers filled the forms in when they arrived and my passport pic was just stapled to the new form. I paid my $20 and was let through being there in total no more than 8 minutes.
The only observation I would make however is that while we were all being duly processed I noticed our luggage was going around on a conveyor belt in a separate room and in theory any other passenger or person could have picked it up and walked away unchecked. So maybe it would be advisable to fill the forms in whilst on the plane to save time.

MENs hotel had arranged a taxi to pick me up and take me me straight to them at a cost of $8 which was about right price wise. You could however choose your own taxi or tuktuk from the many waiting outside the airport.

It took about 10 minutes to get to centre of Siem Reap and then another 5 minutes to the MENs hotel.
The hotel or resort as it is officially called is located down a very small bumpy uneven side road in a residential area. By residential area I mean a Cambodian residential area so it has a mixture of different old and new houses, shacks, dogs, chickens etc. to negotiate to get to it.

Once there the actual hotel is a smart white walled oasis which is self compact with it's own swimming pool, calming trees and flowers, cafe bar, massage rooms, well equipped gym, mens gay spa and very clean and comfortable modern styled rooms. There is free breakfast, wifi, and free entrance to the gay spa for guests. All this comes with a large number of very nice cute Cambodian staff to look after you.
The hotel has a male only policy and attracts local Cambodians to the spa in the evenings.

Once in the reception area I was greeted by the one of the owner's, Pierre, and given a refreshing drink and wet towel to wipe my face and hands with. I then had a guided tour of the premises and sauna and showed to my room.

All the answers to my questions about were to visit from a tourist and also a gay perspective were answered. The rules about overnight guests were explained which were basically anyone can come to visit from outside bars or indeed the spa as long as they have their ID checked to ensure they are over 18 years. Everyone entering the spa has also to show their ID prior to being allowed in.
The authorities are rightly trying to address Cambodia's bad reputation for being a haven for people seeking under-age sex and during my stay 2 police officers made an unannounced visit and inspected the premises. I was told they sometimes also visit in plain clothes. While I was there I also saw a report in the Phnom Penh Post that a Norwegian man had recently been prosecuted and received 3 years for having sex with a 16 year old boy. Without wishing to dwell on this subject most of the Cambodian guys that I met were around the 20-23 age group but looked younger, so I can only presume the 16 year olds must look about 13-14 yrs so there should be no excuse. Please be warned.

I had chosen the smaller $55 room which was more than sufficient for my needs. It was spotlessly clean and had a fan, air conditioning, a queen size bed (no its not a pun) a nice hot/cold power shower and large flat screen tv.

Being a little tired after my epic journey I had a shower and hit the sack for a couple of hours. When I awoke it was late afternoon so I went down to the cafe bar and ordered a meal and a drink. There was a reasonable range of food and the prices were not overly expensive.

I opted to pay for everything when I signed out in 4 days time so I could order things when I wanted without having to carry money around in the hotel all the time.
The cafe bar area is adjacent to the large swimming pool which has a small running waterfall so is quite relaxing. You can eat your meals sat by the pool and breakfast is also served there.

Being the wet season the heavens opened and the rain came and went in short bursts on and off for about an hour. The bar area though was well protected being in a sheltered spot and I sat and watched the cute staff brushing the floor area only to have to re do it again when the rain returned.

My intention was to see some of the tourist sites and hopefully see some of the other gay 'sights' on a more personal basis. Being still slightly jet-lagged I decided to initially try my luck in the spa in the evening before possibly going out later. This opens at 5.30pm and shuts around 11pm. I was told that it was not predictable as to how many guys would actually visit and as with most places some nights were busy and others were quiet.

The spa itself is very clean, modern and well equipped. It has a sauna, steam room, large jacuzzi, a number of individual showers and about 5 private rest rooms. These can be locked and have clean mattresses, an adjustable light and fan.
There is a separate locker room which both visitors and guests can use which has secure lockers each which contains 2 towels and one condom.
Guests must be favoured as you get 3 free condoms everyday in your en suite together with the shower gel and shampoo. I do not know if that is wishfull thinking or as a result of detailed research by the hotel, here's hoping. lol.

I was there from about 6pm till 7pm and only 4 guys came from outside, 2 farongs and 2 Cambodians but but both were not my type and maybe I was not their type as the showed little interest in me and kept themselves to themselves. They were more the muscle type and spent some time in the gym. I normally go for the cute slim, hopefully passive, boyish type guys myself but everyone to their own.
.
Despite feeling quite tired I thought I would try my luck at the Linga Bar and got a tuk tuk into town first spending half an hour wandering around the night market which sells the usual fake goods and tourist items. I arrived at the Linga Bar about 8.30pm but it was almost empty.

The Linga Bar is situated bang in the middle of Siem Reap's night life area which basically consists of about 4 streets with small alleyways full of cafes, restaurants, massage parlours and bars. You have to battle your way past the tuktuk drivers and a few beggars all wanting your attention and business. The Linga Bar itself is quite pleasant in a small alleyway with leather sofas both outside and inside the premises. It has a small bar and two inside rooms though maybe it looked slightly dowdy compared with the web site pics.

There were about 4 cute bar staff all wearing black judo suit style outfits, 2 farangs, myself and 2 other Cambodian guys who I took to be money boys. One gave me the eye but he was not my type yet the other who was about 20 and quite small and cute just sat on his own playing with his mobile phone. I was about to go and sit next to him when another Cambodian guy who I took to be his boyfriend came over and handed him a rose and then left. He was then playing with his rose and soon wandered off. How romantic.
There was no romance for me that evening as I stayed till about 10pm but decided to go back to the hotel mainly because by now the jet lag had crept up on me and I was knackered.

Once back at the hotel I was told that allegedly there had been over 15 guys at the sauna who all arrived after I left but had since gone. I had a drink at the bar and watched one older farang swimming in the pool. The boy at the bar pointed to the farang and said “He wait for you to go to spa” I thought that it was now time for me to “go to bed” so I retired for the night.

I slept most of the night although for very sensitive sleepers it may be well to pack some earplugs as the creatures of the night, namely frogs, crickets and god knows what else are quite loud with their various chorus's. I suppose you have to choose between that or the human chorus of drunks and beeping tuktuks closer to the centre of Siem Reap.

The following day I had breakfast by the pool which was very nice quality wise but very skimpy choice and size wise.

I did the compulsory temple tour which was all arranged by the hotel and had my own taxi driver for most of the day. You can obviously do your own thing but this seemed more sensible as the driver showed you all the best temples and was at your beck and call to take you for your lunch etc. The only downside was it meant getting up at 6am to miss the crowds and the afternoon rain. So for that reason I was not too miffed about not having met a guy the night before.

I returned early afternoon, showered and slept for a an hour or so. Then to town for a bite to eat and a little shopping. It normally costs $2 for a tuktuk which is always available outside the hotel. You could in theory walk into town but you would be walking in water filled pot holes in the heat, trying to avoid the dogs outside every home and it would take you a good half hour or longer.

Back to the hotel to the pool to cool down. I wore my trunks but some of the guests swim naked and wander from the pool to the spa showing their tackle in front of guests and staff. I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

From chatting to the hotel staff it became quite apparent that although they were all cute with sexy smiles to die for, nearly all were straight and most had girlfriends. What a shame, but at least it gave you the appetite to eat elsewhere. Although I did not confirm it with the owner there appeared to be a no staff with guest rule which I appreciate is probably needed to maintain certain standards.

You can sit by the pool in the evening and eye up who, if anyone, visits the spa from outside as they have to walk past the bar area to access the spa. There did not appear to be any visitors so I decided to hit the town.

I was told the only real gay bar was the Linga Bar despite other places being listed on the various gay websites, and it was normally busy after 10pm, just the time I had left the night before. The tuktuk driver took me there in 5 minutes and I arrived just after that time.

There were about 30 guys in the bar and one woman. The guys were all either pared off or in small groups and were a mix of farongs, Chinese and Cambodians.
There were about 10 Cambodian guys aged 20-25 years that were obviously money boys. I was told by the hotel that there is virtually no chance of meeting anyone there apart from a money boy unless you maybe contact someone on gayromeo prior to your visit and the chances are they are also in it for the money.
Famous last words but I was also told that all the money boys should be trustworthy as most were known to the bar and the hotel and if anything were stolen etc they would not be allowed back thus cutting off their supply of income.

All the “available” guys then all started making eye contact and wanting me to sit with them but I ignored them and sat on my own till I could weigh them all up and see if any took my fancy. Of course one guy ignored my stay away stance and sat next to me but I made it known that I fancied another guy who was sat on his own and he was called over. He was the guy who I had seen before with the rose.
I bought them both a drink each,( there is no off fee policy as all are freelancers) and my chosen date showed his interest and put his hand on my knee and engaged in conversation. He spoke good english and said he was 23 although he looked younger.
He said he did not have a boyfriend and that he just like flowers.
I tried to ascertain if he was passive but he either did not understand or ignored the question although he appeared slightly effeminate. He agreed however to accompany me back to the hotel for some short time fun but the actual fee was not discussed. We then got a tuktuk back to the hotel and once in the room I showered first, (with my wallet in sight), and he showered second.
Then to bed for 2 hours of fun. As it turned out he was passive so I was more than pleased. I had read that the going rate was around $25, although that was on an old posting on a gay forum so I gave him $30 with another $2 for a tuktuk and he was more than happy asking if I wanted to see him the following night at the Linga Bar. I said “maybe” and off he went.
At the present time of writing this report 30 US Dollars work out about £19, while 1000 Thai Baht are about £21.

The following day I visited the Tonie Sap Lake for a boat ride which was ok. It takes about half an hour on a small boat from the jetty area to get to the actual lake and once there you look at the vast expanse of water and then turn around for the return journey. On the way back you are encouraged to stop off at one of the floating shops and buy some pencils and notebooks for the floating children's orphanage. I am happy to give to charities but personally I think this is a rip off as the shop wanted $10 for 2 small notebooks and $6 for about 10 pencils, which both could be bought back at Siem Reap for peanuts. There was however a constant stream of tourists going in and buying them and depositing them at the school. Call me miserable and suspicious but maybe they are returned back to the shop at night.

The afternoon was spent sat by the pool relaxing and typing up my report and later in the evening watching the 4 visitors to the spa, 2 farongs and 2 Cambodians, though none took my fancy.

Out again to the Linga Bar about 10.30pm and this time it was very quiet. About 4 farongs, one of whom kept giving me me eye contact, and a couple of younger Cambodian guys, one being the guy I had met last night.
I bought him a drink and we and engaged in conversation. He worked part time as a chef and when he had the money went to school. He rented a room at a cost of $60 per month so I thought the the $30 had been a reasonable fee for the 2 hours of fun.
He explained that it was up to the customer to give what they wanted and the boy would have to accept it. He also said that all the freelance boys at the bar were known to the farong owner and he would not allow them there if they caused any problems for the customers. My friend said there were other places that gays went to but they were all mixed and suggested a nightclub called the Paradise Bar where they had singers albeit it was quite expensive.

A group of other money boys then arrived and I made it known to my friend that I would probably be taking another guy back to my hotel. I asked him about another cute guy and he said that he was from Phnom Penh and travelled between there and Siem Reap and also Thailand looking for customers. He said he had a friend who he could phone that he would recommend and he verified that he was passive.
While waiting I noticed another of the guys he had some words tattooed on his arm. When I looked closely they said “no more BF”. I said “Oh, it says no more boyfriends” he looked startled and said “No, it says no more breakfast, I like to sleep morning, I want boyfriend” Maybe he was pulling my leg put I found it amusing.

I spent about an hour in the bar waiting for this guy's friend to turn up as he worked as a waiter and had to finish his shift first. I was pleasantly surprised when he did show up as he was very cute, 20 years old and stylishly dressed. The only downside was that he could not speak english so I bought him a drink while the other guy acted as interpreter. I jokingly suggested that all 3 of us go back so I could understand what this other guy said and my first friend said he could do if I wanted and he would stay outside the hotel with his mobile phone and I could use his friend's mobile to ask any relevant questions. As I thought most things would come naturally anyway I declined this and then set off back to the hotel with my new acquaintance who showed his appreciation by squeezing my hands and legs on route.

Back at the hotel we both showered and got down to the business but unfortunately this guy was not very responsive, not wanting to kiss or do much else and it became apparent that he was active, now where was that mobile phone? He actually did let me attempt to do what I wanted but it was not successful and we played around a bit and finally finished with hand jobs. It is fair to say I did enjoy his company so I gave him the same as I had given his friend. Others may have acted differently and given less but I don't have an issue with being generous to guys who do not have much when compared to myself. When he was about to leave his mobile phone rang and I could hear him talking to a female. I asked who was that and he said “girlfriend”.

The morning of my final day was spent relaxing by the pool and typing my report.
In the afternoon I went shopping in the markets and ate out at a nice Indian restaurant.

This was the final evening of my short visit to Siem Reap and as I had already had fun for the last 2 nights I was not too bothered if I met up with anyone. The only issue was that I had to be up at about 7.30am the following day to have a shower, breakfast and be ready to catch the 9am mini bus to Phnom Penh so I did not want to leave it too late. I also had plans to visit a nightclub in Phnom Penh on my first day there that had it's only gay night on the Thursday (The Glory hole) and maybe I did not want to overdo it, lol.

The best laid plans never work like that and I went to the Linga bar earlier this time at 8pm. I met my first friend there and told him that his friend I met last night was not up to what he had promised. He was very apologetic and said he would contact the other cute guy that had been my first choice, namely the guy who came from Phnom Penh and had been in Thailand.
We waited for a while and then a boy turned up who was not the same guy and certainly was not my type. It was apparent that my passive friend had contacted another of his friends and not the guy I wanted. I bought him a drink and sent him on his way while I described in detail the guy that I had wanted to meet. Then another call was made and the correct guy then appeared. I had only seen him from a distance on the 2 previous nights but close up he ticked all the boxes and more.

He said he was 20 and his english was quite good. When he heard I was going to Phnom Penh the following day he asked if I could postpone it till the Friday as he was going back to see his aunt then and he could accompany me. I must say I was very tempted having only paid $10 for the mini bus trip but I thought there maybe other better delights so he gave me his mobile number and I told him I may contact him while I was there. On further questioning he understood what a bottom was and said he had only been in Siem Reap for 2 months and in Bangkok for only one day when he went with another Cambodian friend.

We went back to the hotel and he handed his ID over to the receptionist boy who said “You enjoy”. Well I most certainly did. He was much more responsive, experienced and passive than the other 2 had been even though he was younger in age and looks.
He only stayed short time because of my booked journey and I wish I had contact with him earlier in the week though I still had his mobile number for Phnom Penh. He said that when I went to the Blue Chilli Bar I would not want him as there would be more cuter boys there, hmm I'll bear that in mind.

The hotel had arranged for my transport to Phnom Penh which was a mini bus at a cost of $10. Other available transport were plane, around $80, taxi at $70, or coaches at about $10-$12. I chose the mini bus as it allegedly took about 4 and a half hours while the coach took 5-6 hours.

I would be happy to have spent more time in Siem Reap and the MENs resort is certainly the place to relax in and chill out. It was quite expensive when compared with other places though is very luxurious and the only exclusively gay hotel in Cambodia. The only minor criticism is the short bad road leading to it. Take my advice and do not have a large meal before you take the tuktuk to or from the place. It is a bit like riding a bucking bronco.
As it was the wet season it was fairly quiet which I thought was a bonus and in fact it only rained twice the whole time I was there, and then only for an hour each time.
I did only visit the Linga Bar although I would have gone to other places if I had the time. My visits to the Linga Bar where mid week so it was fairly quiet and the same 10 or so guys there most nights although I was told at weekends it would be very crowded with a lot more choice. I did not have a massage at the hotel or elsewhere simply because they do nothing for me so I never bother visiting such places. Similarly with having a gay spa at the hotel I had no need to visit the others in the town.
Overall I would recommend Siem Reap as a place to visit to see the tourist sights and to have fun but 4 days is too short to try to do both properly if you want to fully relax while there.

Part 2, Phnom Penh, should soon be posted as I am currently typing it up from Pattaya. I arrived there last night and spent a pleasant time in the YaYa Bar. Depending on the responses to my Cambodian Trip Reports I may do one for Pattaya although it will probally be like telling grandma how to suck eggs.

All the Best

funtop

gertrude

Re: Cambodian Capers. Part 1 Siem Riep

Post by gertrude » Tue Sep 14, 2010 11:30 am

excellent .

fountainhall

Re: Cambodian Capers. Part 1 Siem Riep

Post by fountainhall » Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:02 pm

Wonderful post. Looking forward to Part 2!

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Re: Cambodian Capers. Part 1 Siem Riep

Post by Gaybutton » Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:42 pm

Absolutely excellent! Yours is the first report I've ever seen that gives a real feel for what to expect.

I have a couple questions. Money. What kind of money is accepted in Cambodia? Their own currency? Thai baht? US dollars? Something else? Is there a preference? Also, are ATMs available or do you have to carry a lot of cash with you when you go to Cambodia? If ATMs are available, what currency is dispensed?

What are the prices at both Eight Rooms Guest House or the MENs Hotel? Did you ever get over to Eight Rooms and check it out? If you were to return some time to Siem Reap, would you give Eight Rooms a try, stay again at MEN's, or try somewhere else?

gertrude

Re: Cambodian Capers. Part 1 Siem Riep

Post by gertrude » Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:02 pm

I have been to Cambodia twice.they use US dollar mainly.They even have a few ANZ Banks,Australian New Zealand Banks.
I went in 2005 and I wasnt overly fussed about the place but from a business point of view a person can own 100% of his business.

Does the MenS hotel have a website ?

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Re: Cambodian Capers. Part 1 Siem Riep

Post by Gaybutton » Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:13 pm

gertrude wrote:Does the MenS hotel have a website ?
http://www.mens-resort.com

http://www.ei8htrooms.com/home.htm

Do you know the answers to my questions about ATMs?

penguin

Re: Cambodian Capers. Part 1 Siem Riep

Post by penguin » Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:54 pm

Really good stuff. Thanks! Cambodia has always been on my list of places I want to see. This report has bumped it up a few places.

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Re: Cambodian Capers. Part 1 Siem Riep

Post by boy » Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:34 pm

Thanks FUNTOP for this excellent trip report - very detailed and most interesting and on TOP it was FUN .... lol !

I enjoyed your comments very much and your adventures were of "high information" since I intent to visit the same places (Siem Reap and Phnom Penh) for approx the same period of time by beginning of next year (6 days in SR and 5 days in PP).

I would be pleased - and I am sure you will certainly do so - if you could answer the questions of Gaybutton with regard to the money and availability of ATM machines in Cambodia. Can one withdraw also US-Dollars from ATM machines or will they disburse only with the local currency ?
Would it be advisable and recommended to take also some of my home currency, Swiss Francs, to Cambodia and change it to local currency or there in US-Dollars ?

Thanks again for your excellent posting !

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Re: Cambodian Capers. Part 1 Siem Riep

Post by pong » Tue Sep 14, 2010 7:44 pm

In Cambodia you can just get by on US$. Small fry is done in riel (local money)-which you will get back as small change for parts of 1$. The notes do not need to be clean-crisp as they want in Myanmar=Birma.
The most quoted common price for short is 20US$-and this is already double of when action started there. Why this would go up by 5$ every year is beyond me.
That email visa in practice does not save any time nor money. Indeed the official visa-fee is 20US$, but at land-borders you have to stand your point-or rather wait it out-as they will want THB-mostly at least 1000 (well over 30US$ now). With a prearranged visa they will then find other fees and excuses to have your money extracted.
If you are in for those dark Khmer guys-you can also find a lot in Surin.
For info on land travel from Thailand: www.talesofasia.com
For travel in Khmerland, incl. bus-times and routes: www.canbypublications.com

gearguy

Re: Cambodian Capers. Part 1 Siem Riep

Post by gearguy » Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:12 pm

When I first visited Cambodia in 2000, there wasn't any ATMs and the banks charged high fees to cash traveler's checks, so I had to take all the cash I expected to spend. As mentioned, in cambodia, everything is in US dollars, but only bills, no coins. For amounts less than a dollar, you use Riel, which last time I checked is about 4000 Riel to 25cents US. If your bill is say 4.75 and you give them a US five, you'll get back a 4000 riel bill. Don't ever change a large amount of US dollars into Riel. You'll have a hard time spending it and you can't convert it back.

All the ATMs that I used in Siem Reap dispensed US dollars (as of 2007 when I was last there.)

BTW, the dollar is also used in Vietnam and Laos, tho there I am not sure what the ATMs dispense.

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