We left Siem Reap around 8 am for our excursion to Battambang. We had said good by to our local guide, Mr. Sorn. He had been very nice to us and always so helpful to me. We decided to give him a tip even though he worked for the company. We discovered that tipping was rather confusing. Most of the money used in Cambodia is American dollars. The majority of the goods are priced in dollars. We gave out a lot of dollar bills as tips but it was always hard to decide who to tip and when. Mostly you tipped around 10% but then what I read said that a lot of people don’t tip. So basically it is up to you whether you want to tip or not. I finally changed some dollars into riels (Cambodian money) so I had something smaller than a dollar to give for various reasons. Even when you take a photo of a monk – you are suppose to give a tip – there is usually a special box in which to place your tip. You give a tip and they give you a blessing and tie a good karma yarn around your wrist. We also didn’t realize we were going to have guides in every city as well as Dave. They were so kind and thoughtful that you felt like you had to give them something extra. Several of them even told you their personal stories so you felt even more compelled to give them extra. Dave said right at the beginning that he didn’t accept tips. Shawn and I thought that was great so we never worried about him. I gave him 6 – 2015 photo magazines and a photography book at the end of our trip. He probably didn’t like the book because he didn’t agree with anything I said and the book was written by the couple who taught me most of what I know.
Back to our trip to Battambang. I have been in many countries but I have never seen driving like Cambodian driving. Of course, I had to sit in the front and be scared out of my wits half the time. I do have to say that Dave’s driving, under the circumstances, was pretty good. He has been living there for 12 years so he knew the ends and outs of getting through the traffic alive!
We were on the outskirts of Seam Reap when Dave stopped at the Angkor Silk farm. They had a free guided tour. Cambodia has a long and rich history in silk production which dates back a thousand years. The guide explained the process from the cultivation of the mulberry bushes to the Cambodian technique of dyeing, weaving and creation of silk products. We particularly enjoyed the guide as he was brief and to the point and kept the tour (which was just us)moving. Both Shawn and I found the silk making process fascinating. You might enjoy some of the photos taken in the silk workshop. The colors were so vibrant.