Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Cambodian Food in Siem Reap

1 USD = 4,000 Riel

21 October 2015 
Our plane touched down at about 2:30 p.m., Siem Reap time. After arriving at the Phsar Chas (Old Market), we went for a drink at Khmer Food Restaurant at Street 9. I was pretty thirsty at that time. By the time we finished, it was already about 3:45 p.m. While strolling around, I told CTT that we have to look for a hostel first, otherwise we might have difficulty getting a room once more and more people came into town.

It was already 4:30 p.m. when we walked into Pub Street looking for a very late lunch/ very early dinner. We walked into the Old Market again and found this stall. I asked CTT whether he wanted to take the risk of eating in a less than hygienic place. He did not hesitate and I decided to take the chance with him for Delhi belly. We asked the hawker how much was the noodle but she was unable to answer us in English. Sitting beside me was a local and he helped us with the order and the price, but which I have forgotten. I think it was USD1.

While we were eating a couple of white girls came from behind us. One of them was very interested in the pancake. I chatted with her and learnt that she had one a day earlier. She said it was very tasty. She and her friend had one each and had them take-away. Both CTT and I decided to have a go at it too. I think it was 2,000 Riel per piece.

At about 6:40 p.m., we went out again to look for dinner. We were not sure where to go. We walked into a restaurant but it was full. The waiter told us that there was another branch of Khmer Kitchen Restaurant at another location and I told CTT that would be the place where we were dropped off by our tuk-tuk driver earlier that afternoon. I could not remember whether I ordered Amok chicken or Amok pork but was served Amok fish.

After taking the orders, I browsed through the menu again. The fresh spring rolls looked very tempting and I ordered a plate. It was raw vegetable and I don't like raw food. CTT had to finish it for me.

22 October 2015

We left for Angkor Wat at 5:10 am this morning. We weren't thinking of breakfast but came across the food stalls while walking within the Angkor Wat Temple complex.

From Angkor Wat, we went to Angkor Thom. We had lunch at Srey Mom Restaurant at Angkor Thom parking lot close to Terrace of the Leper King. Here, the food on average was more expensive than those at Angkor Wat.

That evening, we decided to take our dinner at the street stall near our hostel. It was situated at the intersection of Sok San Street and Sivatha Boulevard. Here, the food cost less than half of those of the touristy area of Pub Street and the nearby streets. I was craving for a similar fried noodle like the one I had at Phsar Chas yesterday. I did not know the name but it was fried noodle, so I went for fried yellow noodle, emphasizing to the vendor that it was not to be Mama (instant) noodle as I did not want a repetition of the noodle served at Angkor Wat.

23 October 2015

Restaurants in Siem Reap opened late in the morning. We told our tuk-tuk driver to take us somewhere cheap along the way to Banteay Srey. He wasn't listening and we ended up at a tourist restaurant, Khmer Angkor Kitchen Restaurant. The prices of the dishes on the menu were expensive and I was not happy with the driver. Just then, the restaurant staff removed the menu and gave us another set of menu. It was still tourist prices, but slightly cheaper.

Lunch was at Angkor Flower Restaurant at the parking lot of Beng Mealea, just outside of the temple gate. We had just arrived from Banteay Srey. I had white rice with grilled pork. This was by far the most expensive place so far and the pork was hard and dry. This was my worst meal in Siem Reap.

This morning, we realised that food offered at Continental Cafe, Restaurant, Bar and Rooms where we were staying was cheaper than those at the tourist streets. Why hadn't we had our meals here? We decided that we would have our dinner here tonight. When we opened the menu during dinner, we realised that it was even cheaper than the street stall where we had dinner the previous night.

24 October 2015

This morning, we went back to the Old Market to look for breakfast. I was hoping we could go back to the stall where we first had our fried noodle. CTT has other idea and settled for another stall. It was noodle soup. We asked the vendor how much it was but she did not response. Anyway, we went ahead and ordered our noodle. When it was time to pay, she had to call someone from a neighbouring stand who could speak English. It was USD2, twice the price of the noodle from the first vendor. Were we cheated?

CTT was very keen to do some shopping. We found the shopping mall that CTT wanted to go to but it was a tourist shop catering to organised tours. On our return to the hostel, we stopped at a small restaurant. The owner was an ethnic Chinese and the menu was posted on the wall like those in China. The picture on the wall seemed to be caramelized pork. The pork on my plate was artificial colouring.

CTT had been talking about the beef noodle stall operating at the corner shop close to our hostel. I decided that we could as well go there tonight, being my final night in 'Siem Reap. He was saying that he could come the following day but I told him I would love to try the beef noodle too.

It was not that filling. I had appetite for more and decided to go for the fried noodle again, hoping against hope that this would turn out as nice as the one we first had at the Old Market and which I had been craving for. It was not as good.

I have not been ordering rice with Khmer dishes because they sounded and looked uninteresting. Many seemed to be influenced by Chinese or the cuisine of the neighbouring countries. I just felt they were not authentic Khmer dishes. 

However, whatever food I tasted seemed to be made for my taste-buds. They were simply delicious. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Day 5 Back to Malaysia

25th October 2015

A day earlier, I informed the hostel staff that I needed a tuk-tuk to the airport. The staff wasted no time in flagging down a tuk-tuk on the street. The driver agreed to a fare of USD5 and we would leave at 6:30 a.m.

The driver was waiting for me when I checked out of the hostel. He did not take the main road to the airport. Instead, he took a back road which merges with the main road two-third of the way out. On the way, I was able to see how the average sub-urban Cambodian live in Siem Reap.

Siem Reap International Airport was a small, single-storey building. It was being expanded. The building was modern and nicely adorned. However, it was a beautiful building occupied by corrupted Immigration officers. When the duty officer was going through my passport for the departure stamp, he asked me for money. I replied I had no USD. Then, he gave me the "give-me-money" sign and asked me for Malaysian Ringgit. I replied it was in my backpack. He flipped through my passport without taking action to stamp my passport. I just waited. He gave up finally and stamped my passport.