CAMBODIA: Siem Reap’s Night Market & Dr. Fish

CAMBODIA: Siem Reap’s Night Market & Dr. Fish

Cambodia – September 2011

Siem Reap Night Market: For anyone that loves shopping, local markets with indigenous products, souks and the like, there is a fantastic place located in the center of Siem Reap town with hundreds of little markets selling all kinds of wares from silk scarves, to bamboo carvings, to luggage, to jewelry, to t-shirts, to the ever-available massage (you get accosted walking past the massage ‘clinics’) – Sir, Sir, One Dollah, Massage Sir!

Siem Reap Night Market
Angkor Night Market

The dining choices truly are endless as you get to choose from many local restaurants in the general area of the night market, and the waiters will bring your dinner to this central area with lounge chairs and masseage booths within a hundred metres.

What I loved about Angkor Night Market was that you can sit and have a drink, sample food for about 10 different restaurants in the area and do your shopping all in the one compact area, no strolling around for hours in the sultry night heart of September in Cambodia!

Last but not least in Siem Reap, the “DR. FISH stands everywhere.” On so many levels this concept grosses me COMPLETELY out, but I have to admit it actually works!! We stopped at Dr. Fish – I mean if the store says DOCTOR, it must be legit right!? Plus, they offer free beer or coke while your “feet get eat!” I mean C’mon, what a deal. :))

Dr. Fish, Cambodia. Sir, Sir, Just 2 dollah! ($)

There are tanks full of little minnow type fish (later research of course led me to determine that these fish of course originated in the Country I love most aside from Canada – Turkey, and teh fish are known as Garra Rufa.)

These tiny fish eat the dead skin off your feet or hands, (*urge*) but I swear to god they make your feet feel like new. I didn’t do it (in Cambodia), as I had to video the event taking place – god forbid. However, we all know, any man that has feet (that would be most of you) and is not gay (hey it’s a fact that my gay peep friends tend to spa & primp more than the regular dude) tends to have horrible feet. Let’s call a spade a spade here ok, most dudes have gnarly feet! Add to that, men in the military have horrible feet x10 (or more).

So I figure, if these fish (aka: miracle workers) can make a military dude’s feet almost like baby’s feet, this concept MUST WORK yes??!! $2 for 20 minutes, AND a free beer. Life is good my friends! I think you can convince even the most hardened man to  go for Dr. Fish (in a foreign land), and they will love you for opening the world of Spa-dom and Pedicure-dom to them as they walk around on their new ‘baby-like feet.’

Five Ways to Avoid Theft on Vacation –

Luckily we’ve never encountered any crime or pick-pocketing in ANY of our travels.
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“Once I was in the Middle East, and walking in a city with a colleague,” says Craig Bidois, principal consultant, Fear Free, a New Zealand-based security and safety management firm. “A car stopped beside us and a lady got out of the car and asked me if I could change a larger note for a smaller one. Being a helpful person, I went to get my wallet out. My friend—also a security expert—realized what was about to happen and replied that we could not help. Her car was ready to go with a driver; I suspect she would have taken my wallet and [driven] off.”

It’s not unusual for anyone, even security experts, to be caught off guard while traveling. Whether it’s a vacation or a business trip, it’s important to stay alert and know your surroundings to avoid petty theft. Read on for ways to safeguard your valuables while traveling.

What Not to Pack

Before you pack even one item, do a bit of research about the local area to see if any safety red flags come up. “Crime occurs in all countries, cities, and towns,” says Bidois. “Maybe you’re going on a local vacation or to a remote area in another part of the world—the risk remains the same. Do some research about the location you are going to to find out what the safety issues are there.”

Armed with this knowledge, you can pack accordingly. Depending on where you’re going, you may want to choose a body wallet over a purse, a backpack over a suitcase, or other similar tweaks to your usual attire.

The old adage of “when in doubt, leave it out” rings true for all types of trips, from domestic road trips to far-flung international vacations. Leave expensive jewelry, extra clothing, and other non-essentials at home, and forego anything flashy, brand-labeled, or attention-drawing. Not only will you know your valuables are safe at home, you’ll also enjoy the freedom of traveling light and in a manner that will hopefully allow you to blend in with the locals.

“A person should pack light so that they aren’t bogged down with having to carry a bunch of items with them,” says Beth Whitman, founder of Wanderlust and Lipstick, a guidebook series and website for women travelers. “If they can act confidently and aren’t fumbling around or looking lost, it’s less likely that a thief will target them.”

What to Bring

You may also want to invest in a few extra precautions for your bags. Whitman recommends a cable lock to tether your bag to something stationary, small zipper locks to prevent entry into your bag, and a bag with mesh or slash-proof panels to keep thieves from tearing it open and making off with what’s inside. Just remember that TSA security requirements mandate that your bags are unlocked in flight, so be sure to bring the locks along and attach them to your bags once on the ground.

Additionally, make copies of all your important documents (passport, itinerary, reservation confirmations, credit cards) and give them to trusted family and friends before you leave. You’ll also want to share copies of customer service phone numbers and emergency contacts. This way, in case your wallet and/or bags get stolen, you’ll have backup to continue with your trip, honor your reservations, and have a means to get home.

Consider purchasing travel insurance to give you additional peace of mind while on vacation. Be sure to read your policy’s coverage before you buy to verify that loss/theft protection is included.

Out Exploring

“You are responsible for the security of your possessions, no one else,” says Bidois. “Most of us save up our hard-earned money to take ourselves and our families away on a vacation. We deserve to have a stress-free and enjoyable time away, [but] sometimes we let our guard down.”

While you may feel the urge to relax and cut loose on vacation, staying alert and aware of your surroundings is your first and best line of defense. “Would you leave your house unlocked? Car unlocked? Money lying around your bedroom?” says Bidois. “You need to maintain basic everyday security measures.”

Start by deciding what to have on you while you’re out, and map out your route in advance. Your money, credit cards, and forms of ID should be in a secure place, such as a money belt that’s worn close to your body or an interior jacket pocket. Avoid crowds or other touristy areas known for petty theft, pickpockets, and the like. And by having a general sense of the area and your route, you won’t have to fumble with guidebooks and maps, which makes you stand out as a (potentially vulnerable) tourist.

“Be careful about people who approach you,” says Bidois. “Many are con artists or worse … Use your gut feeling. If you think something is not right, trust your instinct.”

It’s always a good idea to carry a dummy wallet on you, filled with loose change and a few small bills. A former colleague had a brilliant strategy of saving the fake cards that come with credit card solicitations and bringing those along in her decoy wallet. If you are held up and asked for your wallet, you can get rid of the dummy one, the thief will be none the wiser, and you’ll still have your valuables.

Finally, stay sober. If you’re intoxicated, you’re much more likely to end up in an unsafe situation. Keeping your wits about you is the key to safety.

In Your Hotel

At check-in, request a room that’s not near a stairway or elevator (to reduce foot traffic or strangers prowling around the easiest-to-access rooms), as well as one that’s not on the ground floor. If the clerk announces your room number for all to hear, ask to be reassigned to a different room. Ideally, the check-in attendant should write the room number on your key envelope and pass it to you across the counter. Discretion can prevent theft.

Once in your hotel room, take advantage of all the locks you have. “A rubber door stop will prevent someone from entering your room,” says Whitman. “Many hotel room doors in developing countries don’t have additional locks, such as chains, so this little item can come in handy.”

Sometimes, paying a little more per night can give you extra peace of mind for security’s sake. “If you are a backpacker or staying in a low-grade hotel, you get the security level you paid for,” says Bidois. “Generally, higher grade hotels have more protection measures in place … but you still need to remain alert. I never leave the ‘please make up my room’ sign out—this signals you are away. I do leave the TV/radio on as a gentle background so it appears I am still in the room.”

You may also want to use the hotel safe for your valuables, travel documents, and other pieces you’d like to safeguard. Check in with the front desk beforehand, though, to find out just how secure the safe is. How many people have keys to the safe? Who has access to the room? A few general inquiries can determine whether the safe is a viable option for you.

If You Do Get Robbed…
Unfortunately, even the most aware and alert traveler can experience a bit of bad luck. If you do get robbed, there are a few steps to take to make the best of a bad situation.

If you lose your passport or other identification documents, get in touch with the nearest embassy. Ideally, you will already have copies made that you can take along with you—this will expedite the replacement process.

“If it’s valuables, definitely report it to the police so that they have a record of it,” says Whitman. “If the police will issue a report, you might be able to get your insurance policy to reimburse you.” Be sure to get a copy of the police report for your insurance claim.

Finally, while the threat of theft may seem frightening, it shouldn’t be an all-consuming focus on your vacation. “Don’t let fear put you off traveling around the globe to visit some amazing sites and meeting interesting people,” says Bidois. “Just use common sense, appropriate humor, follow the local cultural customs, and be a little more alert than if you were at home.”

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How Do You Pack for Vacation? – In Transit Blog –

Now that nearly every airline is charging baggage fees, the best way to pack a bag seems to be an ongoing debate.

In today’s Business Travel special section, Christine Negroni reports on packing tips from the pros, including how to pack for a 10-day vacation in a carry-on.

The Practical Traveler also found that it’s possible to pack light with tips from road warriors who never check a bag, and the Frugal Traveler suggests using vacuum packing bags to make the most of a small carry-on.

Here at In Transit, we have a number of packing tips of our own. Share your tips below.

Allison Busacca: I once packed for a 21-day trip in one carry-on bag. I generally start with a packing list and lay everything out a few days in advance. Every day, take something away or find an item of clothing that you can wear a few times. I always make sure to pack layers, and I stick to one color scheme, with a lot of basics, so that everything is interchangeable.

Dan Saltzstein: I’m not a particularly good packer (though I have adopted the rolling technique mentioned in Ms. Negroni’s article). That said, I don’t think I’ve checked a bag over my last dozen or so flights — and that includes at least one two-week trip. How? I use a medium-size backpack with an attached day pack that zips off. The straps of the backpack can be zipped away, which I do just before boarding. Then the day pack comes off and goes under the seat; the remainder of the backpack goes in the overhead compartment. Works like a charm.

Denny Lee: I’m a firm believer in packing at the last moment, because the more you wait, the less you bring — and no one ever complains about underpacking. How do I remind myself to pack everything? As a check list, I point at my toes and go up from there, making sure all my body parts are covered. Trickier are all those cords and chargers for our gadgets. I keep a travel set in a Ziploc bag, so it’s always ready to go.

What are your packing secrets?

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Cuba to require visitors to carry medical insurance

Starting May 1st, 2010, a new Cuban government measure will require all foreigners, and Cubans living abroad, to possess travel insurance with medical cover in order to enter the country.

Cuba’s Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers published the new law in the nations Official Gazette, stating that tourists, and Cuban emigrants must have health insurance before being allowed in the country. Foreign citizens who have temporary residence in Cuba must have medical insurance that covers them for the duration of their stay.

The measure states that only foreign insurance companies that are recognized by Cuba will be allowed to issue the approved insurance plans. Also, there will be sales points at every point of entry into Cuba where travelers can buy insurance from local Cuban insurance entities.

In the published measure, diplomats and members of accredited international organizations will be exempt from this rule, although the measure does not reveal the cost of the mandatory insurance.

The Havana Times has an English translation of the published measure, available here:

Free and easy ways to stay connected from Europe by Rick Steeves

Tribune Media Services

If you take a computer when you travel to Europe, there are programs that let you call home for free -- even with two-way video.

If you take a computer when you travel to Europe, there are programs that let you call home for free — even with two-way video.
When I was a gawky teenager, my parents took me to Europe, broadened my horizon, and changed my life. After I graduated high school, I was ready to travel to Europe on my own, but my parents were nervous. To earn their blessing, I had to make two promises: I wouldn’t go to Turkey (because they were worried I’d be sold into the white slave trade) and I’d write home every other day. My dad figured that if the postcards stopped coming, at least he’d know where to begin looking.

Today, it’s a new world. When my kids travel to Europe, I can track them down instantly on their cellphones. What’s even more remarkable, if we both use a computer, I can see them while we talk — usually at no cost to either of us.

Over the last few years, there’s been a revolution in long-distance communication that makes it easier and cheaper than ever for travelers to stay in touch. Take your laptop or netbook to Europe, hook up to a fast Internet connection, and you can talk to people around the world — for free. This technology, called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), can save you a lot of money on calls home from Europe.

At first, I was reluctant to try VoIP, but now I’m a believer. In fact, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to embrace technology more vigorously in the interest of using my time more smartly … and VoIP is not only smart, it’s free.

The company called Skype ( is the dominant provider of VoIP, but other companies (including Google Talk, work in much the same way. To get started, you visit the Web site to download the free application and to register. Once you’re signed up, you can talk online via your computer to a buddy with a computer running the same program. If both of you have Webcams, you can see each other while you chat. All of this is free.

Skype (which is a shortened form of “sky peer to peer”) also works for making calls from your computer to telephones worldwide. In this case it’s not free, but the rates are very reasonable (generally less than you’d pay with a long-distance telephone plan). I can sit at my computer at home, using Skype to call phone numbers all over Europe to reserve hotels for my whole trip, quickly and affordably. And when I’m in Europe, if I’m traveling with my Skype-enabled laptop, I can get online and make calls home — or call ahead to confirm tomorrow’s hotel — for pennies a minute.

With Skype, you can also buy a phone number in your home country that links to your computer wherever you are traveling. Your grandma makes a “local phone call” in Omaha, and you “pick up” on your laptop in Barcelona. While this all has to be set up online, it’s fairly user-friendly and can save you a bundle on a long trip.

Again, computer-to-computer calls are always free — no matter where in the world you are — and the sound quality is generally at least as good as a standard phone connection (although the video can be choppy). The program uses your computer’s built-in speakers, Webcam, and microphone, if it has them. If your computer lacks a microphone, or if you want to improve the voice and sound quality, you can buy an operator-type headset for around $20. A cheap Webcam also costs about $20.

You can use VoIP even if you’re traveling without a computer. Many European Internet cafes already have Skype, as well as microphones and Webcams, built into their machines — you just need to log on and chat away. But remember that the service works well only if both parties have a high-speed Internet connection.

What about those of us who carry a mobile phone to Europe instead of a computer? Increasingly, you can even use VoIP from certain Internet-enabled smartphones (such as the iPhone), bypassing the expensive rates mobile-phone companies charge for international calls. A Skype app is available for some smartphones, or you can use a third-party service such as, which works as a kind of Skype-to-mobile-phone gateway. Even the iPod Touch — which isn’t designed as a phone — can be used to make Skype calls to computers or phones, if you have an external microphone and a Wi-Fi connection.

Tech-savvy travelers should do some homework before their trip to fully understand these ever-evolving options.

Even if you’re not using VoIP, it’s worth knowing about because of its increasing popularity in Europe. If you travel like a local, it’s only a matter of time before a new European friend who wants to keep in touch will ask you, “Do you use Skype?” You’ll have broader horizons.

Edmonds-based Rick Steves writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio.
His column runs weekly at
E-mail him at

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Taxi tips for travelers – Europe –


Tribune Media Services
updated 2/1/2010 4:50:00
When people ask me about the scariest situation I’ve ever been in, I think back to a taxi ride I took to the Moscow airport in the early ’90s. A no-neck guy who looked like a classic Russian mafia thug picked me up in a beat-up old car and drove for an hour down puddle-filled alleys and past derelict apartments buildings. All I could think about were those movie scenes where the good guy is taken down to the riverbank to be shot. Instead, the no-neck pulled up to the airport, shook my hand, and said, “Have a good fly.”
Many Americans are wired to assume that taxi drivers in other countries are up to no good. And I’ve always said that if you’re going to get ripped off in Europe, it’ll probably be by a cabbie. But I’ve also found that most drivers are honest. Sure, scams happen. But with the right tips and a watchful eye, you’ll get where you want to go without being taken for a ride.

Dishonest cabbies often lurk at airports, train stations, and tourist sights ready to take advantage of tired travelers.

At Prague’s main train station, cabbies at the “official” stand are a gang of no-good thieves who charge arriving tourists five times the regular rate. If you don’t want to worry about getting conned the minute you arrive at a new destination, hop on public transportation. At Prague, opt for the Metro instead of a taxi. Recently, I took a speedy train from Rome’s airport to the train station downtown and then caught a bus to my hotel. It took me less than an hour to get from the airport to my hotel and cost 27 euros for the train fare and a handy week-long transit pass. A taxi alone would have cost 40 euros.

If you’re at a taxi stand or flagging down a cab, get into the car only if it has a prominent taxi-company logo and telephone number. Be aware that if a taxi is called for you (for example, by a hotelier or restaurant), the meter often starts running when the phone call is received. Note that there really are variable rates and extra fees. Trips on nights and weekends generally cost more, and there are often surcharges for luggage and airport trips.

In a cab, insist the cabbie use the meter, agree on a price up front, or know the going rate. If you have Internet access, the Web site can provide estimated taxi fares for larger cities. Or you can ask your hotelier when you book your room roughly how much the ride should cost from the airport.

Image: London taxi

Dominic Bonuccelli

London’s black cabs take you through a scenic urban landscape you’d miss if you relied on the underground Tube.

A common trick is for cabbies to select the pricier “night and weekend” rate on their meter — even if it’s a weekday. An explanation of the different rates should be posted somewhere in the cab, often in English. If you’re confused about the tariff, ask.

If you suspect a ripoff, make it obvious that you’re following the route on your map or conspicuously writing down the cabbie’s license information. Shame them into being honest. In many Western European cities, such as London, Paris, and Barcelona, meters are tamper-proof, so there’s generally nothing to worry about.

For small groups or families, taking taxis can be cheaper and faster than using public transit. A group of three or four people can often travel less expensively by taxi than by buying individual bus tickets. Taxis are especially reasonable in Mediterranean countries and Eastern Europe. You can go anywhere in downtown Lisbon, Prague, or Athens for about $10.

To show appreciation for good drivers, include a tip of 5 percent to 10 percent. If they haul your bags and hustle you to the airport to help you catch your flight, you could toss in a little more. But if you feel like you’re being driven in circles, skip the tip. If a driver owes you money, watch carefully as cash passes between hands, and count your change. (Cabbies can be expert at dropping a 50-euro note and picking up a 20.) Better yet, pay with small bills.

Despite their hassles, I love taxis. People often ask how I’m able to find the best beer or tastiest tapas in town. Many of my favorite backdoor tips and most interesting conversations have come from chatting up taxi drivers. In London — my favorite taxi town — drivers tend to know every nook and cranny, since they must pass a rigorous test on London geography to earn their license. Sure it may cost a little more than public transportation. But the nuggets, insights, and people make it worth the ride.

(Rick Steves writes European travel guidebooks and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio. E-mail him at, or write to him c/o P.O. Box 2009, Edmonds, Wash. 98020.)

© 2009 Rick Steves … Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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