Siem Reap driver extraordinaire: Mono

Three days in Siem Reap. So many things to see; how to decide where to go and what to do? The most important decision we made was hiring Mono to be our driver. He had been recommended by a friend, so I emailed him several weeks out to get on his calendar. He picked us up at the airport when we arrived in Siem Reap and delivered us to our hotel while quizzing us on our sightseeing goals. We had general ideas about what we wanted to do but needed guidance, and Mono came up with a suggested itinerary of morning and afternoon activities for our three days. When we opted to chill out at the pool one afternoon instead of visiting a temple, he reprioritized and shuffled the schedule for us, no problem.

Mono shows us the map

Mono suggesting a temple-visiting plan

Here’s what we ended up with:

Day 1

Morning: Angkor Wat

Afternoon: Ta ProhmAngkor Thom

Day 2

Morning: Banteay Srei, stopping to shoot machine guns on the way back to town

Afternoon: relax at hotel

Day 3

Morning: Tonle Sap boat trip

Afternoon: airport

Mono sharing Khmer food

Mono introducing us to Khmer food

[If you’re interested, Ta Prohm was our favorite temple complex, and we were blown away by the Tonle Sap boat trip.] Mono was unfailingly cheerful, amazingly knowledgeable about the history of the temples, enthusiastic about local Khmer customs, crafts, and food, and very importantly: speaks English well. His rates are extremely reasonable. I highly recommend hiring Mono if you are planning a trip to Siem Reap and the Angkor region. Contact him via email:

[Here’s a second opinion, similar to mine:]

Thinking HP thoughts on vacation

In Cambodia, we saw a man bind a pig’s legs and tie him, on his back, to a small trailer behind his motorbike. Presumably, if you need to take your pig to market, and your vehicle is a motorbike, this is how you do it; but the pig was terrified and his shrieks haunted us. Two days later, when visiting a floating village, we saw a floating pig pen. The pigs lived crammed together on a wooden raft. Again, what are the villagers’ options? If you live on a boat, and need meat, what else can you do but build a crate that floats and fill it with meat animals?

In Laos, later in the trip, we were reflecting on the pig experiences, and the sights of all the other barnyard animals running around willy-nilly in both countries, and food animal welfare in the third world in general. Mr. HP observed:

Only rich societies can afford to care about this shit.

Agree? Disagree? Please debate.

More vacation posts to come. So much food for thought. <groan>