Thursday, February 12, 2009

In Thailand Defeated

That is in fact what Siem Reap means -- "Thailand defeated" -- which may irk visitors to Angkor from that other Indianized Southeast Asian country. Apparently, in Thai schools children are taught that the Thais actually built Angkor Wat; as you can imagine, this pisses off the Cambodians.

The Siem Reap airport, which was built just a few years ago, is pretty snazzy. The entire town exists as a launching pad for tours of the temples of Angkor, and the flow of tourism here has apparently exploded over the past decade or so. We haven't been into town to see the restaurants and shops yet, but you can pretty much get anything you want here now, and there are some fantastic food options.

The flight here from Hanoi on Vietnam Airlines was pretty painless. The VA flight was on a brand new Airbus, and everything ran smoothly. Our flight was packed with Koreans wearing conical Vietnamese hats. I've seen tons of Korean tourists on this trip so far. There seemed to be a ton of Korean businesses with footholds in Vietnam. There were even entire rest stop/tourist trap areas on the heavily travelled route between Hanoi and Halong Bay devoted entirely to Korean tourists. My impressionistic and unscientific take so far is that Korea seems to be emerging in a huge way in Asia, especially in its overseas involvements in places like Southeast Asia -- and may be supplanting Japan in some ways. It definitely feels like the younger, more dynamic economy. Korean brands seem to be ubiquitous here in Southeast Asia -- especially LG and Samsung. I've been thinking for a while that Samsung is now the new Sony. (Of course, I may be biased since we recently got a Samsung TV, on the theory that Samsung's technology was now superior to Sony's.)

Tomorrow we visit the temples in Angkor. I'll have to write later about our quick visit to the frigid Ho Chi Mausoleum, where we filed past the embalmed (and refrigerated) Uncle Ho.

1 comment:

Kris said...

This sounds like a great trip OG, thanks for posting while you're there.