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Beware of Scammers in Siem Reap

Danica Modesta

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Siem Reap is a great place to visit because of the history and culture and of course it's main attraction, the Angkor temples. When I traveled to Siem Reap, I was scammed the moment I got out of the airport. I've spoken to friends and colleagues that have traveled to Siem Reap and some had a better experience. I concluded that if you get the right tour guide, you'll be in safe hands.

For the entire duration of my journey from Siem Reap International Airport to the Park Hyatt Siem Reap where I stayed, the taxi driver was convincing us to hire him as our tour guide and driver. Being 2 minutes in the country, he seemed like a jovial guy, had a proper car, spoke good English, I was sold. Never have I been so wrong. The next day when he picked us up from the hotel in the morning, he was the same person physically, but completely different personality. He didn't speak and only answered when spoken to. This was the beginning of a disaster holiday where he set us up for con every step of the way including the infamous Tonle Sap Lake cruise scam.

If you managed to get a proper tour guide then some of the Angkor temples to visit when in Siem Reap would be the world famous Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm where they shot Tomb Raider. Apart from the breath taking sight of the Angkor temples, there is not much else to do in Siem Reap.

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That's a great post! I'm actually going next month. We signed up with a local tour operator that was recommended by the hotel. I think we should be in pretty safe hands?

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11 minutes ago, Mikaela DS said:

That's a great post! I'm actually going next month. We signed up with a local tour operator that was recommended by the hotel. I think we should be in pretty safe hands?

Getting your tour from a proper tour agency is the way to go. That way if you feel something amiss you can get a change of guide.

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When I was backpacking in Cambodia, I made sure I read reviews and avoid the scam areas. I don't think Siem Reap has more scammers as compared to other countries. I did feel unsafe when I visited Tonle Sap, when I refused to fall for the donation scam, they got a bit nasty.

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  • Welcome Seafood Restaurant

    Welcome Seafood Restaurant has two branches, one located at Asia City and the other in Bundusan. The first day we went to the Asia City branch because it was the easiest to get to, just a couple of minutes from our hotel. When we arrived at about 8, it was already packed and the was only three large mud crabs left, I grabbed all three! Side note; take a piss before coming to Welcome Seafood Restaurant, the quality of the bathroom here is atrocious. If I hadn't banged eighteen Gin and Tonic's at the Regency Club thirty minutes before, I would have held it in. We ordered the fried fish noodle - RM9, two salted egg crabs (RM30 per crab), one kam heong crab and three mantis prawns which cost us RM168 as it was RM260 per kilogram. I'll start with the worst dish, the salted egg crab crap. When it was served, I couldn't believe it was salted egg and I wanted to return it, only to be told it was indeed salted egg crab. It looked nothing salted egg crab that I have had before, and it sure as hell didn't taste like salted egg. They cooked it with sesame oil making the crabs sweet and tasting like shit. Be warned, avoid at all cost. Next up, the fish fried noodle, beautifully done and tasted wonderful. For a table of three, we ordered the noodle for one person and it was enough to go around. You'll get two pieces of prawns and bits of broken fish. The sweet and sour crab was good, nothing special about it. After having two perfectly good crabs destroyed by someone that I can only imagine have never had salted egg anything. You'll read at the bottom how inconsistent the cooking style is with the other Welcome Seafood Restaurant which is supposedly the main branch. The highlight of the night was probably the mantis prawn which cost me an arm and both my legs. The mantis prawns were cooked with salt and pepper, nothing complicated and cooked perfectly albeit a bit oily which I didn't mind. When I ordered it I honestly thought the waiter said RM68 for two pieces. Mantis prawns are pretty skinny, I'm not sure that three pieces equals 600 grams. Anyway, it was nice but very expensive. After speaking to a few local Grab drivers, they recommended that we try the main Welcome Seafood Restaurant, supposedly the 'sifu' chef is there. I don't know if it's because I like getting punished or because I'm such a generous person that I allow people redeem themselves, I suspect it's the former. Welcome Seafood Restaurant, the original, is located at some industrial area. The restaurant is noticeably much smaller than the restaurant that's located in Asia City. They also only had small crabs at RM9 per crab, medium sized crabs at RM15 was sold out at 7.30pm on a Sunday. My guess is they send the good stuff to where the money is. Much less tourist here, more locals, normally that's a good sign. I had less Gin and Tonic's tonight but I still had to use the bathroom, much cleaner here. I was pretty disappointed that there were no large crabs here so I went for a fried fish, I'll eat fried fish anytime of the week. The fish sauce was thicker and sweeter than I'm used to, but it was pleasantly nice. The highlight of my dinner. The fish cost about RM35. I'll do a direct comparison where I can so we'll start with fish fried noodles. Prawns, check, pieces of smashed fish, check, spring onions, check, egg, check. At the first restaurant they fried the noodles with cut chili, not available in the second restaurant. It tasted similar so I suppose it doesn't matter. Fish noodle cost RM18. The salted egg crab was terrible so I didn't want to take the chance, furthermore the crabs were small so I didn't feel like having any crabs. My partner went for the kam heong and it was solidly normal, how you'd expect kam heong to taste like. You can't, and should not go wrong with kam heong, it's probably tied with sweet and sour crabs as the most widely cooked style in Malaysia. From here on, things just fell apart really fast. The first of five horrible dishes in chronological order starting with ginger and spring onions lala (clams). This dish was actually pretty good, if the clams weren't empty. I had to retake the photos a couple of times because it showed a lot of empty shells. I'm a lazy person, I don't like using too much effort to take photos. Some would argue that the clam fell out of the shell during cooking, that may be quite true, but these were pretty big clams and a lot of them were stuck to the shell pretty good, I had to use significant force to evict them from their shell house. Ok, maybe I'm being a bit unfair, the clams tasted really good. Next up is a local favorite, kang kung (morning glory) with belacan. I have no idea how they overcooked this. Kang kung is supposed to be crunchy. They really dropped the ball on this, if you can't do kang kung belacan right, you should stop being a chef in Malaysia. Since the sweet and sour crabs from the first night was good, my better half decided to go for the sweet and sour again. Always best to stick to what you know right? How wrong we were. What was served was extremely disappointing and embarrassing. You can see that in the photo below it was cooked with spring onions and the photo above, no spring onions. The sauce was so light, it tasted like cornstarch and ketchup. It was so bad, we struggled to eat it. Last on the list are the prawns. What I hate more than shitty tasting food is food that is not fresh. In a city like Kota Kinabalu where it's located right next to the sea, there's really no excuse to serve bad prawns. Welcome Seafood Restaurant has tanks full of live prawns and they served us some frozen prawns or dead prawns or some sort. Like the dry butter prawns above, the wet butter prawns were not fresh as well. It's not hard to tell if prawns aren't fresh, the shell sticks to the body. Normally if the cooking style requires frying the prawn, that's when they serve you frozen prawns. Utterly disappointing. The second night without the mantis prawns we paid RM140. It's scary the amount of people that actually eat at Welcome Seafood considering the quality of the food they serve. Never again.

    Danica Modesta
    Danica Modesta
    Just Another Travel Blog

    An Unexpected Company During Dinner

    I seldom take pork and even less if dining out for various reasons but one of the few places I would go if I wanted pork ribs would be Morganfield's. As you can see from the photos below, they have a rodent problem. Having rodents in your restaurant by any standard is unacceptable and unsanitary and this outlet was in an upscale shopping mall right in the middle of Kuala Lumpur. You would imagine they had better cleanliness standards. Needless to say I will not be patronizing Morganfield's anytime soon if they allow rodents to roam free in their restaurants. I was having dinner with my partner and suddenly a rodent jumped out from under the seat, took a few nibbles of what looks to be a smashed fry and parkour'ed back up into the seat again. This happened a few times. That is just disturbing. I'm no rodent expert, but that it looks pretty young, I'm wondering if its parents are nearby. I asked to speak to the restaurant manager and I was told he was outside of the restaurant. So I requested that he comes to me, I'm not about to walk outside in the middle of my meal so I can tell him he has a fucking rodent infestation in his restaurant. If he came over, apologized and promised to get his rodent infestation sorted then that would have been the end of it but he never came while the rodent jumped in and out about 20 times more, it was fast, but not faster than my iPhone 7s shutter speed. Talk about bad customer service. After paying for the meal, RM183 in total, not cheap by any means and left the restaurant only to see who I assume was the restaurant manager, some specky guy sitting outside doing nothing but obviously too busy to come speak to me. Easily one of the most uncomfortable dining experiences ever.

    Danica Modesta
    Danica Modesta
    Just Another Travel Blog 6

    Best Spicy Pan Mee

    Unless you stay beside this pan mee stall, you will probably never know it existed. The only reason how I know about this stall is because I used to work with someone that actually stayed beside the stall. I've been coming to this stall for more than 15 years, in the same period, I have not found a spicy pan mee that comes close. This stall operates out of the owner's home and I don't even think they have a name for the stall. 800 is actually the name of the house the stall operates out of. When I started coming here, the stall was operated by an old lady and her son, over weekends helped out by her grand daughter who was about twelve then. Today, the grand daughter runs the show, she does the cooking and all. The base pan mee is basic, just noodles and soup. You have the option to add fuchok (bean curd skin), prawns, fishballs, pork, eggs etc. I normally go with egg, prawns and fuchok. There's a few ways you can eat this, my partner prefers to not to mix the chili paste with the broth. I'm a person that likes getting punished, I'll mix the chili paste in the broth and have more chili with every mouth. That's the recipe for a fiery butt hole, I'll deal with the butt whooping consequences the following day. You have been warned. Nothing beats having some lime juice and asam drink to go with spicy soup pan mee, it helps amplify the arse destruction process. Pro tip: get the owner to make the drink, anyone else that makes it, it will be too diluted. The lime juice comes in a glass normally, but true to Malaysian style, I take mine in a packet tied with a raffia string. The logic behind this is, you pack more ice, making the drink colder.

    Danica Modesta
    Danica Modesta
    Just Another Travel Blog 3
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