Part 2 – Siem Reap (C) – ‘I can stay here forever if it wasn’t for the mossies’

Our first stop is Siem Reap. Even without the guidebooks, we know that much of Cambodia’s former glory is on display here, including the famous Angkor Wat.

But it was no glory that we saw crossing the Thai / Cambodian border. Compared to Thailand, Cambodia is evidently a much poorer country, with less infrastructure and cars on the road. It was an eight hour bus trip to Siem Reap from the Thai border, we were told that we were lucky because they just finished paving the road three months ago, otherwise it would have been a very bumpy ride. We saw lots of little kids fishing, farmers tending to livestock, crowds riding on the back of trucks and motorbikes (the most was six people on a single motorbike) – scenes of daily country life that aren’t very different from rural China. The Cambodians are obviously a very patriotic bunch, the Cambodian flag was raised every few metres on both sides of the road.

The Thai/Cambodian border

Typical Cambodian means of transport

We arrived in Siem Reap in the evening. The threat of catching malaria  is high in Cambodia, and putting on a tropical strength insect spray is not something we overlooked. So after slathering ourselves in insect spray, our tour group headed out to town for dinner.

Apsara dancers

This was the first time I tried the famous Cambodian dish – amok – which is meat, often fish, cooked in a light egg (and coconut?) based curry. The amok here was full of flavour and served in a neatly folded banana leaf. I didn’t mind that the dish was from a backpacker filled area, if it tastes good, who cares about authenticity?

We finished dinner with some deep fried banana spring rolls, dipped in condensed milk. Oh, did I mention the traditional apsara dancers? There was a raised platform in the restaurant, where girls dressed in beautiful traditional attire, called apsara dancers, were drawing everyone’s attention. In Hindu mythology, demons and gods joined forces to churn the ocean of milk with a huge snake, for an entire millenium, in order to free great treasures from the ocean. In the process of churning, bubbles formed and rose above the ocean, and these bubbles became the beautiful apsaras.

To be continued…

Fish amok


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