Mar 01 2013
UPDATE, Tuesday, March 5: Electricity supply has now returned to normal in all parts of Siem Reap city, according to our various sources.
UPDATE, Sunday, March 3: Lengthy power outages continue to affect most of Siem Reap, and authorities have not yet given any firm date as to when services can be expected to return to normal. Many businesses have now installed temporary generators, however, so normality is a possibility, but rooms in hotels with guaranteed power are becoming increasingly difficult to find. Some hotels have raised prices to cover the additional cost of hiring and powering generators. Our advice is to phone ahead — e-mail is unreliable due to poor internet signals — if you are at all concerned about the lack electricity.
Much of Siem Reap sweltered in darkness last night (Thursday February 28, 2013), following a bizarre road traffic accident near the Thai border which resulted in a truck demolishing 11 power poles and the abrupt severing of power to the city at 05:50 Thursday. Although electricity is gradually being restored, large areas are still without power and latest reports estimate that normal service will not be resumed until well into next week.
Many of the larger and higher end hotels have swapped seamlessly to generator power, and some of the more switched-on business owners were quick to rent portable generators as rumours of just how long the crisis would last spread rapidly through town. One expat said: “I saw a flatbed cruising down Sivatha Boulevard this morning, dropping off mini-generators at every other shop, so it looks like we could be in for the long haul”.
Small pockets of town saw their electricity supply reconnected gradually throughout Thursday, with much of Pub Street back to near normal for the evening rush. An area to the north of National Road 6, including many budget hotels, such as Rosy Guest House, also enjoyed a normal service from about 08:00 Thursday, although we’ve just heard the power there has now been lost again.
In the Wat Bo area of town, reconnection has also been sporadic with properties along one side of Wat Bo Road still powerless, while those on the other side enjoy business as usual. The Hotel Soria Moria still has no network supply but has its own generator, as does the Sonalong Boutique Village, while bar-restaurant Under Construction virtually opposite the Soria Moria was fully powered up by Thursday evening. The picture is the same across town with random blocks having been quickly reconnected while neighbouring buildings still languish in un-air-conditioned heat. In short, the power is coming on and going off all over the place, all the time.
Residents are coping as best they can with some decamping to hotels with generators and swimming pools, and others trying to see the funny side, such as the owner of Miss Wong’s cocktail bar who posted on Facebook, “I just managed to save the half side of frozen Canadian salmon from our freezer… My staff will all get a taste of pink expensive meat tomorrow! We are all wondering if the Governor had a generator at his house or is he perspiring into his Scotch as I am.”
Miss Wong’s is open for business as usual. Elsewhere, crowds of overheating tourists and expats can be seen huddling in air-conditioned supermarkets throughout town.
If you plan to be in Siem Reap in the next week or so, eating and drinking should not be a problem as many businesses have generators. But we advise checking with your hotel to see if they have electricity if you are worried about the heat. Be warned, however, that the supply is being cut sporadically in different areas so even if there is power when you contact your hotel, there may not be when you arrive. The only guarantee of power is a generator.
So, stock up on bottles of water when you get here, and if you have a battery operated fan and a good flashlight, stock up on batteries too. If you have a mosquito net, bring it with you, and buy a good repellent as you may end up sleeping with your windows open or even outside. Whatever you do, don’t even think about using candles in your guesthouse. And the forecast for the next week? Hot hot hot!
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