Wednesday, September 22, 2004

How's the food?

Spider snacks

A lot of people asked me how the food in Cambodia was like. I guess it's just typical Asian food. Cambodia doesn't really have any specialty, not that we know of. Well, they do have delicacies such as the deep fry spider. Anybody wanna try that? Sorry we didn't bring the snackie back. ;))

Eating at Siem Reap
Day 1
Venue: Old Market
Our first dinner in Cambodia was pretty good. Well, that's coz we both love peppery stuff and the fried rice (with chicken?) we ordered was pounded with lots and lots of black pepper. Yummy! Plus of course we were hungry. Added bonus. We ordered 4 plates of the same food, 2 for us and 2 for our motorbike drivers. It costs us USD 1.50 per plate. They gave free iced tea (the chinese tea kind) but at this point, we dared not drink it.

Day 2
Venue: Angkor Wat
My (not "our") first unofficial breakfast in this land was courtesy of cpfun. I must really thank her for the Banana Nut Crunch cereal bars. It saved my tummy from producing unmelodic rumbles. A perfect munchie to make up for the unreasonable morning call at 4.30am just to watch sunrise.

Venue: Peace of Angkor villa
Finally, our first official breakfast. Breakfast was included in the room price. Just baguette with butter and jam and coffee/tea. Plus nice staff to talk to.

Venue: A stall in front of Ta Phrom
Our first lunch was ok. I had the fried rice again. This time, it was cooked in a slightly different style. Not as yummy as the previous one but ok. Nirree tried the banana pancake, which was recommended by Shan. What I liked about this stall is the cute 11 year old Cambodian boy who can speak so many languages. Sorry, distracted. ;)) Food price here is more expensive coz it's the tourist area. I think I paid USD 2.00 for my plate of vegetarian fried rice. Again, we said no to the iced tea.

Venue: Peace of Angkor villa
Second dinner is a meal that you all wouldn't want to know!!! ;D All the way from Malaysia. Clue: Add hot water. No prize for correct guess.

Day 3
Venue: Peace of Angkor villa
Yes, we kiasu cheapo travellers always go back for our free breakfast after another sunrise.

Venue: ???
Err... Did we have lunch?? I know I survived a lot on the numerous cereal bars that I brought. Sshh... I must tell you a secret... Nirree may not be human... she didn't feel hungry even after walking and climbing a lot.

Venue: A stall in front of Angkor Wat
Third dinner was a different experience. We had ikan bakar and pickled cucumbers. The fish was yummy but please stay away from the pickled cucumbers. Not like our acar at all. This was the cheapest meal we had in Cambodia. Nirree, how much was it?

Day 4
Venue: Peace of Angkor villa
No further words required.

Venue: Ta Phrom
We decided to have a picnic lunch. We each had a bun and a cake plus bananas.

Venue: The same stall in front of Angkor Wat
We wanted to go back to this stall to try their ayam bakar. This time, just the chicken without any of the vegetables. And it's the chicken is really really delicious!

Well, I guess you can roughly imagine how the food is like and do not need me to detail out everything we ate throughout our trip. But I must say, we are really happy to go back to Malaysian food.

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Old Man at Ta Phrom

This old man is famous and one of the most photographed person in Cambodia. He appeared in the front cover of a popular book. And he isn't even a political figure or a rich man. He is introduced to many people but the many people were not introduced to him.

We saw him on our first visit to Ta Phrom. At that time, we did not know who he was. Yet we were attracted to him because he looked so at home being there, as though he was the guardian of the temple. We smiled at him and he smiled back at us.

Since Ta Phrom was our number one favourite place, we returned the following day. This time, we were set to stay there for 3 hours. We each picked a spot near the Echo Chamber to wile away our time. Getting comfortable, we unpacked our lunch of buns, cakes and bananas.

The old man was at his usual spot, one of the doorways to the Echo Chamber, selling his wares. Again we exchanged smiles. We also offered him some bananas which he accepted gratefully. No words were needed. Just smiles and noddings of heads.

We were enjoying ourselves very much by just being there. The air was cooling amidst the ruins and old trees. It was the perfect place for us to read about Angkor. Time to time, we will break the silence by sharing an interesting piece of information from the book we were reading. At intervals, we will pause our reading to do some "people watching" or to "eavesdrop". These actions were punctuated with comments spoken in Cantonese or Bahasa Melayu.

It was during one of these intervals that we discovered who the old man was. It was amusing to see the people's reactions to this knowledge. All of them went, "Oh!" Most of them took out the book which had the old man on the front cover and snapped a photo with him and the book. A few of them gave him some money.

Who is he? Take a look.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Good luck??

"Bring us to a place where we can see a good sunset."

"O.k. We take you to Phnom Bakheng."

We were oozing with excitement. After having our photos taken for the 3 days pass, we were so eager to use it. Hey, it was going to be our very first temple visit. Our motorbikes zoomed on and passed Angkor Wat. Then, we saw the crowd. Hopping out from our bikes, we looked to the left and saw the mini hill.

"The temple is above the hill."

"Oh, o.k."

"We'll wait for you here. Good luck!"

Hmm... funny guy... wishing us good luck. Whatever for?

We trotted towards the foothill, showed the temple guards our pass and started the journey upwards.

This can't be that bad.

Oh yes, it was. We were extremely unfit. Not even halfway up, we were puffing and groaning. The hill was steep. It was rocky. There was no easy and well worn pathway. Selfishly, we found consolation in the huffings and puffings of other tourists.

Just a little bit more. The temple is just at the top of this hill.

Finally I reached the top. I beamed with joy. I congratulated myself on my success. But that was before I looked forward and saw...

I laughed hysterically to myself.

So that's what the good luck was all about.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The First Sight of Angkor Wat

It was the evening of our arrival. We purchased our three-days passes to visit the Angkor sites. Although the passes were valid the next day, we were entitled to spend an evening within the Angkor area. We were on the motor-taxis enjoying the ride and observing our surrounding. At one point, I realised that people were crowding around an area ahead. I strained my neck and eyes trying to find out what the attraction was. My eyes was trained on the stream of people moving on a bridge … I followed their progression and slowly realised where they were heading to.

The moment my sight rested upon Angkor Wat, I felt my breath caught in my throat… my heart swell… I felt a tingling sensation from my head to my toe. It was a while before I realised that it was a feeling of awe. Yet it wasn’t an imposing sense of awe… it exuded a sense of calmness…

The Unsuccessful Monk Stalker

We had seen several photos of monks sitting and walking around in the temples of Angkor. We were fascinated by the vibrant colours of their robes against the dark gray and moss-covered structures of the temples. So, on the last day of our temple visits, kwazy decided to capture pictures of monks walking through the doorways of the temple. When we arrived at Bayon, we spotted 2 monks. We took our camera out and started trailing them around the temple trying to take their pictures without them being too conscious of the camera. Our attempts were hindered by other visitors talking to the monks. Of course, we tried not to be too obvious about mission. At one point, the monks suddenly disappeared. We were a little disappointed.

As we continued our exploration around Bayon, lo and behold, the monks appeared in front of us. We ended up talking to the monks for about 15 minutes. At the end of the conversation kwazy requested for their picture to be taken. Unfortunately, kwazy forgot that she wanted the picture of only the monks in the temple and included herself in the picture.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Tomb Raider

Last night I managed to catch the movie Tomb Raider on Astro. I was so excited because this movie has scenes shot in Cambodia. I was eager to recognise the places that I have been to. And the movie did not fail me. As all movies are, it wasn't so realistic but the places are as it is. Of course their shots are better than my camera skills. I particularly like the part with the Angkor Wat as the background. They turned the moat surrounding the Angkor Wat into a real village with the people moving around in their boat houses. Something like the floating market.

The movie only showed three of the Angkor temples and these three are my favourites.

Bayon - the place where Lara Croft landed with her jeep when dropped off by a helicopter

Ta Phrom - Lara Croft followed a young girl into this place and then fell deep below the ground

The statues of the creatures (which came alive in the movie) and of Krishna (a Hindu god) with many arms and faces were exactly like the ones I saw in the museum. Well, a little bit fake though in the movie but purpose achieved.

Angkor Wat - Lara Croft meeting the monks here... quite laughable actually.

A piece of advice: When you visit the Angkor temples, spice it up with a dose of creative imagination and the place will take on another meaning. Have fun!

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Mango shake

As I was sipping my ice-blended strawberry bubble tea during lunch today, I was reminded about the delicious yummy mango shake that I had on my last night in Phnom Penh. That night was really relaxing. I love the feeling of being able to just sit around, passing the time away and enjoying the breeze from the riverfront. We were at a cafe (can't remember the name) along Sisowath Road facing the Tonle Sap River, Cambodia's main river. The food in the cafe was reasonable priced and I had the spring rolls which were big and delicious.

That night was a huge big relief... to my pocket as I was on a very tight budget... to my physical self as I was tired visiting so many places... and most of all, being away from the busyness of my life back in KL. I remembered remarking that we should do this more often back home. But could we? Not even a week back here and I can give an answer... No, we couldn't. Life has gone back to its usual mode, always something to do and somewhere to go. Sigh...

Monday, September 06, 2004

Angkor Wat

The majestic Angkor Wat. Note the 5 towers of the Angkor Wat. There are only a few places where you can see all 5 towers at the same time. We took this shot standing next to a big tree. If you enter Angkor Wat from the main entrance, then the tree is on your left. I like this photo a lot because you can see the water-lilies in front. So, it sort of projects a sense of calmness before an imposing grand old building.

It's never enough

I must say I had an excellent trip to Cambodia. Angkor is definitely a place that I will return to in the future. And I recommend it to all my fellow travellers. Not much to say about Phnom Penh though. Still, at least drop by once in your lifetime. If you are planning a trip there and need any input, feel free to ask us.

How can I sum up my impression of Angkor?
Beautiful and peaceful.

In this blog, we will put up snippets of our thoughts and impression and anecdotes of our trip. No chronological order, just whatever comes to our mind. Hope you'll enjoy reading.