May 02 2012
The English have a quaint little phrase to the effect that horses sweat, men perspire, but women glow. Which is all very well if your name happens to be Fanny or Violet, but I actually thought I might be the first person in history to be electrocuted by their own body fluids as I slaved over a hot computer the other day in Siem Reap. Even my phone got heat-stroke; which is as good an excuse for not calling my father as I’ve ever had.
Public displays of sweating that gushes rather than glistens can be unnerving when you’re not used to it. I wore nothing but black for my first few years in Asia, not as a Goth revivalist but for fear of being that person with the enormous damp patch on their arse that everyone on the bus silently laughs at, before suddenly realising that they have to get up too. And how exactly do you check whether you’ve got a great soggy bum without the whole world knowing what you’re doing? I haven’t worked that one out yet.
Avoidance is therefore the best strategy, which is why the good gods invented air-con (the bad ones invented polyester, in case you’re wondering). Oddly enough though, bars and restaurants with air-con units are pretty thin on the ground in Siem Reap, possibly something to do with electricity in Cambodia being among the most expensive in the world. So, if you’re at melting/breaking point, here’s where to go:
Cafe Central: They’ve just installed windows and air-con which, together with the fastest WiFi connection that I know of in town, their excellent coffee and yummy burgers, makes here a truly cool place to hang out, pretend to work and annoy the staff.
AHA: It’s hot, you can be posh; people will understand. Plus they have the most amazing desserts, so there’s nothing more that needs to be said really.
Blue Pumpkin: Not only will you find the air-con refreshing, but Blue Pumpkin’s house-made ice-cream is just the creamiest, tastiest, yummiest you’ll find in town. I don’t even like ice-cream, but have still been caught conducting knee-buckling midnight raids on the tub in the freezer (it’s there for guests, I swear…).
Champey: Tucked away upstairs at one of the smarter venues on Pub Street Alley (the little pedestrian lane parallel to Pub Street), you’ll find a large air-con room, perfect for cooling off with a nice fish amok.
Hotel de la Paix: Although you’d better strike while the iron is hot, as they’re closing in June, Hotel de la Paix is where half the town’s expats flee in moments of crisis, i.e. when there are power cuts, floods, heat waves, or they’ve run out of forks and the cleaner isn’t due in until the next day. On top of that, the build your own salads and sandwiches are a little bit expensive, but an awful lot delicious, and big, which means that they’re not actually expensive at all on balance.
And, finally, remember the Buddhist way: all things will pass, even this seemingly eternal, infernal heat. (Also: see our tips for staying cool while in Cambodia.)
Beside Old Market
T: (017) 692 997
The Pub Street Alley
Old Market Area
T: (063) 963 574
The Pub Street Alley
Hotel de la Paix
T: (063) 963 000
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