Mr Theam Vuthy
(Theam is my family name, so please call me Vuthy, pronounced WOO-tea)
+855 012 428 539
+855 016 553 055
If you are fairly sure when you are coming to Siem Reap, and would like the help of someone on the spot, send me an email of your details and dates. I will suggest suitable accomodation and transport for you. If you like my suggestions, I will make firm bookings for you. That way you avoid the uncertainties (and inflated prices) of long-distance arrangements. In other words, you will have a reliable agent to act on your behalf.
|2007||Working for the tour company Journeys Within|
|2007||Graduated from the essential training course for Angkor guides run by the Ministry of Tourism in Siem Reap|
|2006||Moved to Siem Reap to teach English in a village school|
|2005||Graduated B.Ed. from the Human Resources University, Phnom Penh|
|1981||Born in the Kompong Thom province of Cambodia|
Eric Timewell from Australia has visited Cambodia many times. He recommends me as a hardworking, honest and reliable guide. You can contact him at erictimewell.com.
Andrew and Jenny Stokes (firstname.lastname@example.org) of Auckland, New Zealand really enjoyed my work. Jenny is a senior lecturer in Travel and Tourism at AUT university.
Les and Dorota Laughlin from Melbourne especially loved visiting a village and learning about Cambodian food. You can contact them at Oliveria, their beautiful food shop.
The ancient Khmer empire extended at its peak from central Thailand to the China sea. Its religion was Hindu and its temples have Sanskrit dedications to Shiva and Vishnu. Each temple, with its towers, represents a four-sided universe with a mountain at its center.
Angkor is the heart of old Khmer culture, a vast area which over time has contained more than 900 temples. Those that remain constitute the greatest religious site in the world. Scholars suspect that Angkor was the capital of the Khmer empire because of its water supply, and ceased to be when the water ran out.
The essential tour of Angkor takes in the temple complex of Angkor Wat and the nearby Angkor Thom, including the magnificent Bayon ruin.
Very few travellers would want to miss the romantic, tree-invaded monastery of Ta Prom.
The finest of all temples in the Siem Reap province, Banteay Srei is 24 miles north east of Siem Reap township. A visit takes half a day, rather longer in the wet season.
A visit to the holiest site in Cambodia takes a whole day's travel to and from Siem Reap. The mountain has a gigantic reclining Buddha on top. Below, a sacred waterfall and lake, and streams into the stone floor of which have been carved linga and yonis.
Most of the temples in the Roluos group are older than those remaining at Angkor. The temples lie eight miles south east of Siem Reap and require careful preparation for visitors to get the most from their tour. The crumbling Beng Melea temple is a further thirty miles east.
It can be exciting to explore the shifting boudaries of the great central Tonle Sap lake. Tours can be arranged to its floating villages, the fish sanctuary, the bird sanctuary and the swamp forest.
I live in a village in the countryside near Siem Reap. If I have enough notice, I can arrange for you to come and see my fellow villagers at home, at school and at work in the rice fields. Four fifths of Cambodians live in such villages as they have for many centuries. A visit gives you a more intimate understanding of their world.
If you let me arrange it, you can
— learn to cook real Cambodian food there
— see rice being ripened and harvested, even harvest some yourself
— see inside traditional houses and how Cambodians live in them
— visit a Buddhist monastery and see how the monks live
During school terms I teach two days a week at a village school near Siem Reap township. Otherwise I am free to conduct tours throughout the Siem Reap province.
Different tours take different times. Starting off with the Angkor group of temples, Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom take one day. Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Saom, East Mebon and Kravan take another whole day. Then Thamamon, Chaosay Tevatha, Ta Keo, Ta Prom, Banteay Kdei, and Sras Srang take a further day.
Outside the Angkor area, Kulen mountain (Phnom Kulen) needs a whole day to itself. The glorious Banteay Srei, with Banteay Samré, takes half a day, sometimes more. Exploring Tonle Sap lake needs at least half a day. An excursion to the Roluos group of temples takes half a day. A visit to my village takes a whole day.
If you come from a temperate climate, expect to find Cambodia shockingly hot at all seasons and all hours. You should wear light cotton or linen clothes with long sleeves, longish dresses or long pants. (It is good manners anyway to wear these at Buddhist sites and in Cambodian homes.) Keep your head and the back of your neck covered whenever you go out. Sunglasses are probably essential against the glare. Sunscreen is certainly essential; the sun can burn you in the few minutes before you become aware of it.
Airy leather sandals might keep your feet cool, but make sure they are not too floppy for climbing steep temple stairs.
No matter what your feelings about airconditioning, it is a good idea to have an airconditioned room; it is quite common at first to think you are going to die unless you can lie down in a cool place. Plenty of cool drinks will stop you dehydrating. Don't be surprised if you find yourself taking five showers a day. The hotel will take a day to launder your (cotton) underwear, or you can let the airconditioner dry it for you. Anyway, take several sets.
Insect repellent is necessary away from airconditioned spaces. Early morning mosquitos are said to be the ones that carry dengue fever.
As well as all the usual tropical immunisations, you need protection against flu, because it can ruin your holiday. Tamiflu is the invaluable treatment which inhibits the symptoms if taken within three days of their appearing.
Purists refuse ever to have salads, fruit they have not peeled themselves, unboiled water, or drinks cooled with ice blocks of unknown provenance. But almost everyone has mild tummy problems, not from infections but from adjusting to the water and the food. The treatment is eating steamed rice only for a while.
There are good foreign-trained doctors in Siem Reap. SOS Siem Reap is an excellent though expensive health service. For anything requiring hospital treatment, fly home or to Bangkok straight away. Therefore top-schedule travel insurance is essential.
The simplest Cambodian meal consists of steamed rice with chicken or pork and vegetables on top. Slices of cucumber or omelette and some coriander leaves might be added. You can join ordinary people having this for breakfast any morning in the old Siem Reap market. Around you can be seen a hallucinatory array or fruit and vegetables. Nearby will be wonderful freshwater fish from Tonle Sap to be grilled in banana leaves or added to a soup.
Cambodians love snacks. Good ones can be found in the old market, but perhaps the best are to be found at the stalls of the night market nearby, open from dusk. More substantial meals can be found at the various stalls and restaurants on the east side of the river. Finally, a few restaurants provide authentic Cambodian dishes made to a high standard — paying their Western prices is worth it.
I recommend the Lonely Planet guide to Cambodia as a handbook to carry around the temples. But the outstanding book on the history and meaning of Angkor is Michael Coe’s Angkor and the Khmer Civilization.