Oct 21 2011

Siem Reap flood update: October 21, 2011

Published by at 10:55 am under Floods

Driving around Siem Reap on Friday afternoon felt almost like a journey along Memory Lane, so long it seems since you used to reach your destinations with eyeballs swimming in dust. Throughout most of town, the floods that have plagued Siem Reap for six long weeks have almost entirely subsided, and the watery streets are back to their usual dusty selves (see here if you’d like to donate to help recovery). The transformation, for everyone who’s been wading through the murky mess for so long, feels almost freakish.

The road to Chong Kneas: prepare for a bruising

The road to Chong Kneas: prepare for a bruising.

If you’re venturing out of your hotel and around town, be warned that some areas are still a little bit tricky, in particular the lanes to the southeast of town in between Wat Damnak and the Ring Road, where I managed to find the muddiest road in Cambodia. A big thank you to the six local women who hauled me and my bike out of the morass, without even laughing once.

The road down to Chong Kneas and the Tonle Sap is still awash in places though, as with so many other roads in Siem Reap now, that’s hardly the real problem anymore. In Cambodia, as elsewhere, roads are considered an investment in the future, though this tends to be restricted to the futures of the road-building companies who do such a poor job they have to be called back in again usually within six months to a year of laying anything. Since getting the job depends less on your capacity to actually do it than on who you know… well, it gets boring talking about this after a while. To add to the shame of it all, this willful incompetence creates what amounts to an informal tax on the Cambodian people, albeit one that accrues to the benefit of manufacturers and suppliers of spare parts for motorcycles and other vehicles instead of to the government.

And so, the roads around much of town look like a petulant giant has taken his monumental sledge hammer and pounded them to a pulp in a fit of giantly pique. There are holes that can fit entire trucks in them, and the road to Chong Kneas is particularly bad. If you’re going down there, prepare to be bruised. The same can be said for High School Road, and the north river road, on the eastern side though to a much lesser degree. The road directly alongside and behind Wat Damnak is absolutely punishing, and you can’t help but wonder how anyone is going to get down there on a bicycle for a while.

In the town centre and along Route Six however, the roads have held up bravely, except for the one linking Sivatha Boulevard to Pokambor Avenue (at the junction with Hospital Street), but that’s always a disaster. While Route Six is also fine, the road linking that with High School Road is a virtual honeycomb of mud and puddles.

Outside of Siem Reap on the other hand it’s a different story, and much of the surrounding countryside is still flooded. A local pilot assures us that at least the prison is completely surrounded, Alcatraz style, meaning we should all sleep safer in our beds, so that’s nice.

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14 responses so far

14 Responses to “Siem Reap flood update: October 21, 2011”

  1. Melvin Silvestreon 22 Oct 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Thank you very much for this very informative blog… :)

    I just want to make few inquiries, I’m from Philippines and booked to visit Bangkok this coming October 27, 2011. I am planning to visit Angkor Wat via Bangkok-Aran-Siem Reap road, I just want to ask if it is still feasible to do so considering the heavy floods?

    It’s really sad that this natural tragedy had occurred, I hope that everything would normalize the soonest.

    Thank you very much and Godspeed.

    Best Regards,

    Melvin Silvestre

  2. Nickyon 22 Oct 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Hi Melvin, as things stand now you should be absolutely fine. The waters have dropped and are almost entirely gone from 90% of town. We hope, though no-one feels confident enough to throw away the sandbags yet, that this will be the last of it. Have a great trip, and enjoy Siem Reap!

  3. Melvin Silvestreon 22 Oct 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Thank you very much for your generosity in answering my inquiry. I hope you don’t mind me asking again… How about the roads going to Siem Reap from Bangkok do you have any idea if it would be passable? Thank you very much and sorry for the hassle, I ask too much questions… Thank you again.

  4. Fearnleyon 22 Oct 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Thank you for your report which is very helpful. You mention Pokambor Road – Do you know whether the FCC Angkor there is free from flooding and is the road there from Siem Reap airport OK please? I am not clear whether the floods have cleared from the riverside area. But it is good to know that the water is receding.
    I would be very grateful for your advice.

  5. Nickyon 24 Oct 2011 at 6:41 am

    Hi Melvin, my understanding from speaking to a travel agent in town is that the road between Siem Reap and Poipet is clear, although the fields to either side of may not be. I can’t speak at this stage for the other side to Bangkok, and I think that may be a changing context in any event.

    Hi Fearnley, Pokambor is now clear and FCC is also.

    I hope you both enjoy your trips!!


  6. josnow_auon 24 Oct 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Hi Nicky,

    Thanks for your informative blog regarding the flooding situation in Cambodia. We too are planning on visiting Siem Reap in the next couple of weeks. Because of the floods I have held off booking but id planned to to fly from Bangkok to Phenom Penh & make our way over land to Siem Reap and then back towards Bangkok. I am allowing 10-14 days for Cambodia. Do you honestly think this will be still be possible or have the roads towards the capital been cut off? I have really been looking forward to this part of our trip and would still like to support the local area where possible. Appreciate your advice :)

  7. Nickyon 25 Oct 2011 at 4:18 am

    Hi Josnow, fortunately the main roads between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap seem to be mostly clear, although journeys are taking longer as some detours are necessary. The waters in Siem Reap town and Phnom Penh are receded, although the countryside is still facing huge problems. Have a fabulous trip, and there’s no reason why you can’t go ahead as planned.


  8. josnow_auon 25 Oct 2011 at 8:47 am

    Thank you Nicky. Really appreciate your prompt response. My thoughts and prayers are with those still facing difficult times. Kind regards :)

  9. Melvin Silvestreon 26 Oct 2011 at 3:06 am

    Thank you very much Nicky.

    Last question, about Angkor Wat a friend of mine told me that there’s an on-going repair and the temples may be temporarily closed? is it true? Thanks again.

  10. Magdalenaon 26 Oct 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I have the same question. Is it possible to visit Angkor temples now when the water has gone from Siem Reap?

  11. Nickyon 30 Oct 2011 at 7:19 am

    As far as I know, the temples are completely accessible. One or two of them may be closed for repairs or other reasons, but the principal ones are fine.

  12. Danielaon 01 Nov 2011 at 12:09 pm

    Hi Nicky,

    I am planning to come to Siem Reap on Friday 4 November till the 8th.

    I can see from your previous comments that the streets are not flooded anymore so it’ ok to come. But my question now is about health: I read on wikitravels that before coming to Cambodia I have to do all this:

    it is recommended that you get vaccinations against tetanus, diphtheria, meningitis, a polio booster and especially gamma globulin shots (against hepatitis A). In addition to this, you should take a course of malaria tablets if your trip to Cambodia is less than 30 days, and a mosquito net will provide extra protection. The mosquitoes come out in force in Siem Reap at dusk. Take a medical kit including panadol, antihistamines, antibiotics, kaolin, oral rehydration solution (ORS), calamine lotion, bandages and band-aids, scissors, DEET insect repellent, etc.

    Are they just exaggerating?

    Many thanks for your help,

  13. Nickyon 01 Nov 2011 at 2:31 pm

    Crikey, by the time you pack all that lot your baggage allowance won’t admit much more than a string bikini and a packet of wet-wipes. You can forget about the medical kit. Everything they mention is perfectly available here, and it’s even real. There are dozens of small local pharmacies, but the one you need is called uCare and you’ll find it at the top of Pub Street, which is on all the maps. For the vaccinations, it is recommended that you get the DTP vaccination (diptheria, tetanus, polio) as well as hepatitis A (and B), and typhoid. You’re a bit late now though, as most of them require more than one shot unless they’re boosters and a doctor will rarely cluster them so closely together. You won’t be prevented from travelling, but it might be advisable to study the symptoms of each just so that you can be prepared in case anything goes wrong. For malaria, that’s entirely up to you. Some people take them some people don’t. If you don’t, you must make yourself aware of the symptoms so that you can act quickly if needs be. There is an international hospital in Siem Reap (at least in so far as the prices are concerned anyway), and you’re only a few hours by taxi away from Bangkok if anything does go wrong. Check out the blog post on medical care in Siem Reap for more info. ‎Have a lovely trip!

  14. […] who were here last year are just a little bit twitchy right now. Two months, during which most of the town centre and […]