Singapore Adventure

Monday, September 25, 2006

Cambodia Favorites: She Said
by venitha

Favorite temple: . I loved the drive through the Cambodian countryside to reach it. I loved the russet tones of the red sandstone from which it is made. I love that its name means Citadel of the Women and that it was thus named because the delicate beauty and the intricate detail of its carvings are "too fine for the touch of a man". I loved the scenes from the depicted on its pediments. I loved the girls wandering around it in... Do you think they know those are pajamas? I loved the tranquil calm that descended on it as closing time neared.

Favorite non-temple activity: Wandering the city. From the peaceful shaded walk along the river to the bustling chaos of the Old Market, from the good-natured and joking tuk-tuk drivers to the raggedy and hungry children, from the scooter-packed streets to the deserted back alleys, Siem Reap captivates with its complete contrast to its nearby temples.

Favorite food: Amok. A friend mentioned amok in passing the night before we left for Siem Reap, and thank ! Fish in a thick coconut curry, amok was the first thing we ordered for every meal and the one dish we always finished. My favorite presentation? In a young coconut.

Favorite street food: Glutinous rice and something scary - for peace of mind, I'm going with the theory that it's banana - wrapped in a banana leaf and deep-fried. It looked... interesting, but I was happy to live by our travel rule: If no drinkee the water, then no eatee the street food.

Favorite Purchase: Bamboo tonettes from the young girl who provided a haunting seranade on our approach to the Angkor Thom temple, Phimeanakas.

Favorite quote: "You like only the big girls." Cambodia is poor, and while I'm not a fan of beggars, I frequently buy whatever kids are selling and give something to children who have smiled into my camera. When this creates the inevitable mob, however, the party's over, much to the despair of a little girl who followed us for several blocks, petulantly repeating this single line. Her will ran out before mine did, but I sure wish I had a dozen of her bamboo bracelets on my wrist right now.

Favorite "I did not know that" fact: Cambodia uses US currency. Prices are posted in US dollars, and even ATMs disperse greenbacks. The only Cambodian riel you'll get is in bills worth less than US$1, which is a shame, because the notes have lovely drawings of the temples.