Apr 17 2013
With the recent closure of Siem Reap’s only dedicated sports bar on Alley West, the task of finding somewhere to catch the football, the rugby, the baseball or the tennis has suddenly become a bit more of a challenge. But fear not, all ye die-hard sports aficionados, there are plenty of joints in town where you can eat, drink and be merry and not miss a minute of your favourite sport.
Real armchair enthusiasts can probably catch most sports without even leaving their hotel — local cable TV shows a good selection of “big games”. Although you may have to put up with commentary in Chinese, Japanese, or as was the case when we watched the London Olympics opening ceremony, Dutch.
But watching the game alone, propped up in bed is clearly no susbstitute for actually being there, or at least screaming at the big screen down the local pub with your mates. You can get much closer to recreating that grandstand atmosphere at one of the many bars and restaurants in Siem Reap that make a virtue of broadcasting the most popular games. Here are just a few.
The Warehouse Bar in the Old Market Area is a very popular choice for football – or soccer if you prefer – showing English Premiership games on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as some German and Spanish matches, and any other games of global significance such as big Champions’ League clashes, World and European Cups and of course the English FA Cup Final.
While football is their sporting priority they also show major rugby, cricket, Australian Rules, and even tennis games — with Pimm’s for Wimbledon — depending on what’s available on cable at the time and providing of course it doesn’t clash with the soccer. There is an overflow TV in the upstairs bar if your game is not being shown on the main bar’s big screen. You may also have to watch the game with the commentary turned down if it coincides with a live act — this is also a music bar after all. The Warehouse stays open until around 03:00 on weekends which makes up for most sporting time differences, and will also open early for major American events. The kitchen is open until midnight.
At the other end of town opposite The Royal Gardens, Rosy Guesthouse is also a popular football hangout, with two 50-inch screens showing English Premier League games every Saturday and Sunday, provided they kick off before 22:00 local time. For selected games the price of beer is also reduced from $1 a glass to just 50 cents, and with their great menu — including jacket potatoes and pies — you could almost be at home. Rosy’s also holds occasional charity fundraisers on a Saturday which trump the sport, so it’s best to check if you have your heart set on a night of comfort food, cheap beer and footie.
Molly Malone’s Irish Pub and Steakhouse which is just off Pub Street, is proudly more of a rugby bar, or as co-owner Emer Leahy puts it, “We don’t show too much football… Molly’s is all about the gorgeous, fit rugby players.” They will also show other major sporting events on their big screen providing they don’t clash with the fortnightly charity quiz or a live music act. If you really need to watch a game that’s not on their big screen and simply can’t do without being enveloped in the warmth of some genuine Irish craic, Molly’s also has a TV in the upstairs bar, but it’s best to ask in advance if you can commandeer it for your sporting fix.
Food is served until 23:00 and although usual closing time is midnight, the nice folk at Molly’s will stay open for the game as long as it kicks off before then.
If you can’t drag yourself away from the bright lights of Pub Street there are several other venues right in the thick of it where you can satisfy your sport lust. The big screen at Banana Leaf is quite literally on the street, and another friendly spot with its big screen hidden in the depths of the bar is Khmer Idea, which also has a huge and great value menu and draught beer at 5o cents a glass.
The rooftop X bar is another popular meeting place for football fans and is just across Sivatha Boulevard from the southern end of Pub Street. The entrance is on Sok San Road but you can see it’s neon sign from anywhere on Pub Street.
Also conveniently close to Pub Street on the Sok San Road is Annyada Restaurant, a much more Cambodian-style establishment which advertises big screen live sport alongside modern and ancient historical Khmer documentaries. Sport is “on request” but reliable sources report that they show English Premiership as well as big Australian Rules games. It’s a spacious place with reputedly good food (I have never eaten there), and pool table so you could easily make a big night of it in more traditional surroundings if you don’t want to forget that you are in Cambodia. Again it’s probably best to check in advance to make sure your game will be shown.
If you prefer to soak up the local sporting atmosphere and fancy a bit of Thai or Khmer boxing your best bet is to find a friendly local bar away from the centre of town. Cambodian Pub Street would be a good place to start, or you could just wander around the streets at the weekend listening out for raucous cheering and then follow your ears. Rumour has it that a Khmer boxing arena is set to open soon so watch this space.
Finally, if you just can’t live without real live sport, don’t despair. You can usually find some highly competitive street volleyball most evenings and weekends at one of the many public courts dotted around town. There is also a new multi-court venue on the corner of Oum Khun Street and Oum Chhay Street near the Casa Angkor Hotel.
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