Amazing Cambodia: Crispy Fried Insects as Snacks

I was supposed to write this entry three months back but unfortunately I didn’t have the time to so until now, and there is a total of 160 photos to upload. So heavy!

Several months back, AirAsia was having a Free Seats promotion and I managed to grab my hometown friend Rainbow and I each a return ticket for an all-in-fare of just RM25. This explains how our Cambodia trip came about.

On an unrelated note, I have recently just bought Cat and I a round-trip ticket to Bangkok for next year and it cost like RM120 per pax. A bit more expensive but oh well I guess it is still a good deal.

Anyway let’s focus on Rainbow’s and my Cambodia trip.

This was how Cambodia looked like from a microscopic view inside our plane:

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I thought it was beautiful and looked so different from what we have in Malaysia. The moment I set foot in Cambodia, I immediately liked it already.

Maybe I’m siao lah, many people I know who have been to Cambodia never expressed any strong liking towards this relatively less developed country, but I just wish to be able to stay there for, say, two years?

At the Phnom Penh airport, we were welcomed by a Chinese tour guide (we purchased a tour package from Matta Fair), who brought us to check into our hotel – called the Princess Hotel – to drop off our luggages.

I was actually quite shocked there were so many Chinese in Cambodia, much like Malaysia. I used to think its people were homogeneous!

Look at how big the hotel key was. So big and heavy it can be used to whack hotel thieves.

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Oh, and the view from our hotel window:

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Nice view! It sucked.

Half an hour after we checked into the our hotel, unfortunately it began pouring heavily. Haha what a nice way to welcome us leh!

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The petrol station right across our hotel looked remarkably one of a kind and more lao-yah that Malaysia’s, but I liked the simplicity. Look at the tuk-tuk – I felt like jumping onto it and rode it to explore the whole town!

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There were so many tuk-tuk operators in Cambodia I found it a little difficult to walk from one end of the street to another without any random drivers approaching us to offer us a ride! At times I just wished I looked more like a local.

After dropping off our luggages, we were brought to visit the Phnom Penh Riverside at the downtown.

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Apparently the river you can see in the picture above connects two other rivers – one of which is the famous Mekong river, which runs through some of Cambodia’s neighbouring countries like Thailand, Vietnam, and China.

Very phenomenal indeed!

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There was a little temple along the riverside, where kids were playing around it in their most naive nature. They might not have video games or smartphones, but they were most certainly the simplest persons I had seen in my entire life! Well, unlike most spoilt little brats in our modern society.

Look at the woman behind me (photo below) – how the hell did she get to balance that thing so well?

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When asked if there was any chance we could taste their famous fried insects, our tour guide easily pointed to one of the stalls nearby and said, “That’s one of the best stalls in town.”

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The tour guide however warned us against taking pictures too closely as they wouldn’t be too happy if you do not buy anything from them.

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Looking delicious, no? Haha, they are just like the wide variety of dishes we find at any chap fan stalls, except the dishes are all insects. And please hor – don’t judge the Cambodians just because they eat insects – haven’t you heard one man’s poison is another man’s food?

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We bought some fried crickets and fried frogs for a total of USD1, and we never had the chance to taste them until later that night.

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Fried frogs were okay but certainly not fried crickets. Crickets tasted horrible and I almost threw up eating one!

Earlier on, we visited the Naga World, the only casino in Phnom Penh. Nothing special about it; the only nice thing was the free flow of beer they offered.

We had dinner buffet at Naga World, which was pretty Chinese and didn’t impress me very much. Instead of enjoying the meal, we pretty much just yakked away and taking pictures.

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Ever time I came across photos of me wearing that cardigan I felt damn frustrated can? Yours truly had left it in the vehicle that fetched us around and it was never returned to me. It cost me over RM100 lor.

More interior views of Naga World (didn’t take many photos because cameras were prohibited in certain areas):

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Speaking of Naga World, I kinda didn’t feel it because it was so much smaller than Casino de Genting and many uncles (probably from China or something) who thronged the casino were disgustingly loud and untidy.

In Naga World, they didn’t seem to care if one is clad in a singlet or wears a pair of slippers. As long as you have money, you’re welcomed!

Early next day, we took some time to stroll down the street before our guide arrived. Nothing much to see though, maybe the location wasn’t a good one.

We went to visit the Royale Palace after that. It struck me as a little weird how the authority was allowing the public into the palace. I mean, is the King not concerned about his security and safety?

From inside the palace:

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I have forgotten if those are the national flower, but we found a lot of them in the Royale Palace and they’re supposed to be something very sacred to the Cambodians.

There were many temple-like buildings with interesting architectures within the palace vicinity:

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Halfway visiting the palace, we were suddenly greeted by…

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A halo!

Waseh, never seen a halo before in my entire life and had to fly all the way to Cambodia to be able to see it!

MUST. CAMWHORE.

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Next we went to visit Wat Phnom (“temple of the hill”), which was originally run by a wealthy widow named Daun Chi Penh. The temple sits on top of an artificial hill, which is the highest land in the city.

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The capital of Phnom Penh (“Penh’s hill”) is named after it. Known for her philanthropic acts when alive, people still maintain and visit her place in order to pay respect to her.

On top of the temple of the hill:

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Statue at a shrine on top of Penh’s hill depicting Daun Chi Penh.

Below Penh’s hill, there was a gigantic clock on the field. This clock, about 20 meters wide, was a gift of friendship from China. Apparently at the time of visit, the clock was a working one.

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The first entry on my Cambodian trip comes to an end here. Part II will be updated next so please check back!


Incident of Woman Burnt Alive: BHP Kiosk Attendants’ Fault?

When I logged on to MSN Malaysia’s main page this morning, I saw the following headline to my horror: “Woman burned alive after kiosk workers refuse to lend fire extinguisher”.

While the news has saddened me a lot, at the same time I found the headline subjective and biased at its best.

This Shaza guy made it sound as if the woman would be 100% alive had the kiosk attendants lent their fire extinguisher.

He also made it sound as if it had not been caused by a serious collision involving the Myvi driven by the deceased, a Toyota Vios and a lorry.

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In other word, the journalist suggested the blame to be on the kiosk attendants, who did indeed refuse to let witness Teo have the fire extinguisher.

Since when has it become a journalist’s job to decide who to be blamed, rather than objectively reporting what really happened?

Yes, the fact that the kiosk attendants refused to lend the fire extinguisher may be linked to the woman’s death, but running the headline like that, as if the woman would have been saved had they lent the fire extinguisher, is nothing more than including personal judgement into the news report.

On the other hand, a lot of people have also expressed anger at the “selfish” kiosk attendants and suggested that the latter should be the ones burned alive. I must admit that when I first read the news on FB, I was super disturbed by the “selfish” act of those kiosk attendants too.

However after much thought, I had a change of mind as I was reminded of an incident some years ago where a foreign worker, claimed to have been cheated by a local company, was begging my friends and I for help.

He had no money or a place to stay, and needed help financially to go back to his home country, India.

As much as we sympathised him and would like to help, we were ultimately hold back by the fear that he could be a cheat. And we ended up giving him a little less money that the original amount we wanted to give, and asking him to go to seek police’s help instead.

Besides, I had also encountered a horrible incident with some “donation people” who rudely followed me from one end of a building to the other end trying to talk me into “donating” money for their the “needy”.

And now back to the incident of the dead woman. Teo the witness asked for help from attendants of a 24-hour BHP kiosk situated 500 meters away from the place of accident.

Imagine if you were one of the attendants, would you not be frightened when some stranger suddenly asked for a fire extinguisher and told you about an accident that you were not able to see?

The attendants could be low-paid staff making maybe only 30 bucks per day just to make ends meet. With robberies and cheating cases on the rise (cases where petrol stations are robbed, are not at all uncommon in the country), it is not surprising one would rather not risk borrowing something that doesn’t belong to him and having to be responsible for any loss.

Also, the following is an account of what happened posted by Teo the witness on Facebook after the incident:

then he still say he kenot open the door. Then he say his boss wont allowed to borrow. WTF!!!

then i started to amuk kicking the kiosk and punching the glass of the kiosk.

i even throw my IC to him say that if im dun return u report police.

When you read through the description, you get the idea that he was acting frantically when asking for help. I understand it’s just natural to act in a frantic and panicky manner in times of emergency, so there’s nothing wrong with that.

In fact I’m giving Teo props for braving himself and taking the trouble to go through the whole process – he definitely had every good intention and a big heart.

However we must also try seeing things from the kiosk attendants’ perspective. If you were the attendant, would you not be scared by someone acting so frantically, acting amok and kicking the kiosk?

There were definitely more reasons behind their unwillingness to borrow the fire extinguisher other than being “selfish”.

Instead of pointing fingers at BHP and the two attendants involved, I feel it’s only fair to first look into and understand the many problems and social ills plaguing our society at the moments, how our society is raised (e.g., kids being taught “not to simply trust strangers”), and how it evolves through the recent years where emphasis is constantly placed upon anything else but humanities.

I’m Ken, a passionate traveller from the exotic island of Borneo. Currently a teacher in a rural town in Southern Thailand, from time to time I share on this blog my experiences teaching the kids and living a laid-back lifestyle here. With a focus on all things Thailand, mrdefinite.net also features a handful of stories about my travel adventures in other Asian countries.