Feb 16, 2016

Cambodia Travelogue: Getting Hands Dirty with Khmer Street Food & Tomb Raiding (30 Jan 2015)

Traveling definitely took a toll on us - we crashed around 10pm the day before, yet we ended up waking up around 10am. After a quick preparation, we headed out from Golden Papaya Resthouse on foot to Phsar Chas, in seek of some yummy Khmer street food.

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Spotting Grilled Bananas and Mysteriously Wrapped-Up Goodies
Along Hospital Street, we first spotted this battered wooden cart showcasing some ready grilled bananas on skewers and mysteriously wrapped-up goodies in banana leaves. We did not stop to buy.

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More Goodies Along the Same Street
Few steps ahead, we came across another stall selling similar things as the first, plus more. This time round, we stopped and bought a skewer of grilled bananas and two different wrapped-up goodies (not knowing what exactly we were buying).

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Glutinous Rice Filled with Meat
The grilled banana was rather disappointing - it was dry and tart as it was unripe and possibly not the sweeter breed. The two wrapped-up goodies did make up for the bananas though. Look at the doneness of the glutinous rice! It promised (and delivered) soft and chewy bites, along with the sweetened bananas and flavourful minced meat respectively.

Total Damage = USD 2

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Baguette Stall Right in front of Siem Reap Hospital
As I was busy devouring the yummy glutinous rice with minced meat, we caught sight of this baguette stall, strategically located in front of the entry of Siem Reap Provincial Hospital. We just had to try it!

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Pork Baguette (USD 1)
This was our pork baguette for sharing. You probably couldn't locate the meat but I was sure that the seller put a skewer of meat into it. The whole package was heavily doused with sweet sauce (yes, Cambodian loves their food sweet) and somewhere in between each bite, my tongue would register the tenderness and juiciness of pork meat in it, contrasting strongly against the crispy yet fluffy baguette.

Total Damage = USD 1

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Nai Khmer Restaurant and Bar
By the time we reached Phsar Chas, we were still hunting for more food to fill our empty bellies. This was when we chanced upon this Nai Khmer Restaurant and Bar, which looked like a more affordable Khmer food establishment and seemingly well accepted by foreigners.

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Fried Spring Roll with Egg Skin and Pork @ Nai Khmer Restaurant and Bar
To begin with, we ordered this appertiser, egg rolls, which looked like rolled up roti telur. Looks could be deceiving - this egg rolls were too thick (Malaysian's roti telur can be better than this), however, the sauce (sweet, just like how the Cambodian likes it) did compensate for the lack of fluffiness I was hoping for.

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Lok Lak Pork @ Nai Khmer Restaurant and Bar
Despite the grilled bananas, glutinous rice and baguette, tanner half went all out for a full meal with this Lok Lak Pork (i.e. stir fry pork with rice). The pork was cooked to perfection - it was tender, flavourful and loaded with caramelised onions. He was a happy man!

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Khmer Sour Soup with Beef @ Nai Khmer Restaurant and Bar
I, on the other hand, was going easy with this Khmer soup with beef. Surprisingly, it steered away from the usual sweetness in most Khmer food. Instead, it was sour and loaded with herbs, which was a refreshing change I was looking for. That aside, the beef was slightly overcooked, presenting more resistance than I would like it to be.

Total Damage for 2 Pax = USD 8.50 (Oh! It came with a free pint of Angkor draft beef too!)

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Fruit Juice On-The-Go @ Phsar Chas (USD 1)
For dessert, we grabbed a rambutan shake from this fruit stall right opposite Nai Khmer Restaurant and Bar. Compared to the avocado shake we had the day before, this was oversaturated with ice, making the shake too diluted to my liking.

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Our Mountain Bikes (USD 4/Day)
Oh well, we still had plenty to catch up for the day. Let's hop on the mountain bikes and ride 13km to Ta Prohm! You must be thinking, "Damn, you seriously rode 13km to Ta Prohm?". You bet we did, not to mention the scorching hot afternoon sun and precarious traffic in Siem Reap!

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Tall Spungs @ Entrance of Ta Prohm
To enter Ta Prohm, which is part of Angkor Archaeological Park, you need to purchase an admission pass at the main entrance on the road to Angkor Wat. 1-day, 3-day and 7-day passes are priced at USD20, USD40, and USD60 respectively. Upon payment, you will be given an Angkor Pass stating the date of entry and expiry, with your photo (taken on the spot, free of charge) on the side for verification purpose.

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Sneaking Around Ta Prohm
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"Help! I Am Stucked!" @ Ta Prohm
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"Oh Look! That's the "Exit"!" @ Ta Prohm
By the time we arrived at Ta Prohm, we were exhausted. It was an enormous relief to be under the shade of tall spungs. Better still, hide in the dark ruins, unmolested by the glorious sun, and enjoy the chilly air!

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Devatas @ Ta Prohm
All over the ground of Ta Prohm, you will find countless stone carvings of standing minor female deities named Devatas. Alongside with Apsaras, the divine nymphs or celestial dancing girls, Devatas is one of the dominating motives in the whole Angkor Archaeological Park.

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The Tallest Spung @ Ta Prohm
Traversing across the ruins of Ta Prohm, I couldn't help to feel disappointment by the state of condition it was in, though it was intentionally so.

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Thick Crawling Limbs of the Tallest Spung @ Ta Prohm
Despite all adversities, the spungs rose tall and proud, supported by its thick crawling limbs across the ruined structures of Ta Prohm.

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Stacking Stone by Stone @ Ta Prohm
Sometimes, we couldn't help but amazed at the workmanship of Khmer architecture. Stone by stone, it was stacked in such angle that it supported each other's weight to form the shapes the architect so desired. Their intelligence was formidable.

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Goodbye, Ta Prohm!
Ta Prohm was a living evidence of the timeless perpetuation of the power of nature. It reminds us that nature will continually evolve through adversities and perpetuate through time while we lay peacefully under the embrace of nature as and when such times come.

What do you say to some "tomb raiding"?

IN SUMMARY,

My personal dining ranking (5 being the full score) based on following criteria are:

  • Ambiance
    • Random Mobile Snacks Stall - 1/5
    • Random Mobile Baguette stall - 2/5
    • Nai Khmer Restaurant and Bar - 3/5
    • Random Mobile Juice Stall - 3/5
  • Price
    • Random Mobile Snacks Stall - 3/5
    • Random Mobile Baguette stall - 5/5
    • Nai Khmer Restaurant and Bar - 5/5
    • Random Mobile Juice Stall - 5/5
  • Food
    • Random Mobile Snacks Stall - 3/5
    • Random Mobile Baguette stall - 4/5
    • Nai Khmer Restaurant and Bar - 3/5
    • Random Mobile Juice Stall - 2/5
  • Verdict
    • Random Mobile Snacks Stall - Do try their wrapped-up goodies. It was really good and filling
    • Random Mobile Baguette stall - An easy snack on the go. Double up if you need to for the portion was quite small
    • Nai Khmer Restaurant and Bar - Affordable Khmer food place with plenty of options for one to choose from. Oh, do I mention they serve cheap local draft beer too?
    • Random Mobile Juice Stall - Nah, don't try rambutan shake (or maybe any shake).


My personal attractions verdicts for:

Ta Prohm - If you have a tour guide and chauffeur, visiting Ta Prohm should be an easy task on your itinerary. Being there made me reflect on how minuscule I am in the whole wide world. Let's just say Ta Prohm is a place for self enlightenment.


DINING INFO:

Nai Khmer Restaurant and Bar
Street 9, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Operation Hours: N/A (They serve brunch, lunch and dinner)
Tel: +855 63 964 154
Credit Card: No

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