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melkor

eG Foodblog: melkor - The blog that almost wasn't - se asia with t

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So here we are in an internet cafe in Siem Reap Cambodia, sharing a dial-up connection with a handful of locals. We've been traveling for two weeks, we're blogging the last week of our vacation here. In the past two weeks we've been wandering around Thailand, we were fortunate in our inability to extend our diving trip in Phuket last week so we were safely up north in Chiang Rai for the earthquake and Tsunami that trashed the beach we were staying on a few days earlier.

We spent the past two days in Phnom Penh which was surprisingly enjoyable. Good food, nice people, and traffic that makes my driving look calm by comparison. This morning our first meal was on a converted cargo plane flying from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. We'll add pictures once we find reasonable speed net access. On a 45 minute flight on President Airlines we were fed a bag of peanuts and what looked like a croissant but was egg bread with some sort of coconut jam inside. When we checked into our hotel this morning we had a proper breakfast (for the country we just left) of rice porridge with chicken, scallions, and celery tops - the usual condiment tray of chili powder, sliced chilis in vinegar, fish sauce, and sugar was provided. Some pineapple, papaya, orange juice that tasted more like flat orange soda, lipton tea, and a doxycycline pill rounded out the meal.

We're off to Angkor Wat for the day, we'll check in again tonight - hopefully with pictures.

MsMelkor & Melkor

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This really puts a new spin on the term global village

Woohoo! SE Asian food! Really looking forward to this.

Glad you're all safe!! Please stay that way.

A.

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Mmm, doxycycline. My favorite!! :laugh: (sorry, I couldn't resist)

Thanks for taking us on your trip. I've been wanting to go to Cambodia.

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What is doxycycline?

It's an antibiotic taken to prevent malaria. It also treat typhus and other infections.

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What is doxycycline?

It's an antibiotic taken to prevent malaria. It also treat typhus and other infections.

It's the drug of choice for those (at least the canine "thoses") with tick-borne diseases too...

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So here we are in an internet cafe in Siem Reap Cambodia, sharing a dial-up connection with a handful of locals.

We're off to Angkor Wat for the day, we'll check in again tonight - hopefully with pictures.

Hopefully your telecommunication limitations won't interfere too much. If not, we might do something creative like pester Soba to permit something one-time and non-traditional like allowing some further updating to the blog once you get home. Hopefully that's not necessary though, since there will be much more impact if we see those pictures while you are still there.

Here's a tip. If you are dealing with dial-up, turn the display of pictures off in your web browser temporarily while you do the bulk of your eG catch-up reading and posting, but turn it back on again, to check things, after you upload the pictures and integrate them into your posts. I believe in Internet Explorer at least, if the Internet Cafe allows you access to it, it's under Tools menu--Internet Options--Advanced tab--Mutimedia Section--"Show Pictures".

By the way, for those who want to discuss the earthquake and tsunami outside the bounds of whatever reactions or observations melkor gives, we've got a topic going for that here...

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This is great. I've been lurking and hoping for a SE Asian blog. You've just made my day. Well - what's left of it.

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Looking forward to this blog! More vicarious adventure. Of course all the food has to be imagined as well (where is our sensoryvision? :raz: ), but I know you'll do a bang up job of that for us. :biggrin:


Edited by lovebenton0 (log)

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We've shrunk a bunch of pictures down to a reasonable size and found a slightly faster Internet cafe (oddly enough next door to the other one).

Here are the pics to go with the previous post...

Airline breakfast this morning looked like this:

airline-breakfast1.jpg

airline-breakfast2.jpg

Followed by our very hearty combo of porridge, fruit, tea, and anti-malaria pills at our hotel restaurant (run by Thais):

real-breakfast.jpg

After breakfast we went to the Angkor Wat complex to wander around for the day. Tomorrow we get an early start to watch the sun rise at Angkor Wat, then meet up with our guide for a trip in the countryside for a somewhat remote set of temples. The good news, as we learned on the way to the temples this morning, is that the driver we've hired is very into food - he took us to lunch at a tent/restaurant that serves mostly taxi/tuktuk drivers:

angkor-restaurant.jpg

where we had this for lunch:

iced-coffee.jpg

Iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk

sugar-cane-juice.jpg

Sugar cane juice (made on the spot)

chicken-amok.jpg

Chicken Amok - traditional Khmer food recommended by our driver, it's the Cambodian version of chicken curry served in a hollowed out coconut. The typical Amok is seafood, but it can be made with chicken, tofu, etc.

chicken-curry.jpg

Chicken Curry with veggies - also served in a coconut, this dish was a bit more spicy than the chicken amok, though neither was as spicy as we expected after a discussion with the server about our ability to eat spicy food despite our pasty white complexions.

Wandering through the complex I (Melkor) had coconut water on a walk from one temple to another:

coconut.jpg

These are available all over Thailand, Cambodia, and anywhere else with a similar climate - it's just a young coconut with a hole hacked in the top (usually with a slightly rusty cleaver or machete) and a straw. They are good at room temperature, but they are great on a hot day when the coconut has been kept on ice. Fortunately, this one came directly from an ice chest.

It's hard to describe the beauty and scale of the temples here. Pictures really don't do it justice. It's amazing to be able to climb all over these ruins; one of our favorite temples from today is being actively reclaimed by the jungle - it's completely unrestored, and the only places that seem to be off-limits is what's left of the roof of the temple, and a few piles of unstable rubble. We'll see about posting a few images of the area tomorrow just to give you a sense of where we are.

It's 6:00, and we are desperately hungry, so we're going to end this post now and seek out dinner. More tomorrow.

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What a cool blog! Can't wait to experience the adventure...

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Thank goodness you weren't in Phuket for the tsunami!

I'm wondering about the safety of those ice cubes, though. Best wishes to your digestive system, and enjoy the rest of your travels!

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Glad to hear you're safe and looking forward to the rest of your blog!

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No real reason to worry about the ice - it was hacked off a giant block on top of a makeshift table using a rusty saw, what could be more sanitary?

Last night we had dinner at Sawasdee, the Thai restaurant at our hotel - the food was good, though far better can be found one country to the west of here, so I think we're done with Thai food for the rest of our Cambodia adventure.

The som tam (green papaya salad) tasted fine, but a few days earlier we had the same dish at a market in Chiang Rai which was much better.

som-tam-siem-reap.jpg

This was from last night

som-tam-chiang-rai.jpg

This was what we had in Chiang Rai

chiang-rai-market.jpg

The food at this market was some of the best we've had this trip.

Along with the salad we had deep fried snakehead fish with chilies and spices, and a plate of fried morning glory. The fish was oddly presented since it had been taken off the backbone but was still packed full of pinbones which made it quite difficult to eat. The morning glory dish is one we've had several times while we were in Phuket. This version was sauteed longer, so it tasted less fresh, but it absorbed more delicious sauce!

morningglory.jpg

snakeheadfish.jpg

This morning we woke up before dawn, met our driver in what would be the lobby of our hotel had it any walls and headed off to see the sunrise at Angkor. Walking around the temple in the dark with a full moon has a very strange Indiana Jones feeling to it. After watching the sun come up, on the advice of our driver we stopped for breakfast at this road-side tent:

soup-restaurant.jpg

where you have as your options for breakfast what is in that huge pot or nothing, bread is optional but strongly recommended, since it has an amazing crust and enables you to sop up all of the broth:

beef-soup.jpg

We "chose" the beef soup with a warm baguette, the soup - very satisfying, though we'll stop for more breakfast-related food on our way to a temple in the countryside later this morning.

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melkor and lady melkor: Just so glad to hear you're up and around. Enjoy!! We will just sit here eating our Mickey D's and resenting you!!

Just being obnoxious, of course! Is there anything more fascinating than those sculptures?

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Dave, I have wanted to visit this area of the world for some time. Tell me, do you speak any of the languages? Is French spoken? How/why did you pick this area and plan your trip. Do you know a lot about the food, are these things you cook at home?

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This is a most beguiling blog.

For the record, I lived in Thailand from 1966 to 1975 (not military). Cambodia was off limits at this time.

Ah, that food. Almost anywhere in SE Asia.

As an aside, I used to spend NY Eve's in Phuket before Phuket was PHUKET. At that time, there were no Hilton's, no Shetatons, no spas, no inifinity pools. Just a small town, good food (especially if you spoke Thai), and some spectacular scuba diving. It was a 2-day drive from Bangkok; no one flew into Phuket. But then again, that was before the Bangkok of then was the Bangkok of now.

Blog on! (reminder to self. Need to make som tam)

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No real reason to worry about the ice - it was hacked off a giant block on top of a makeshift table using a rusty saw, what could be more sanitary?[...]

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

That reminds me of the way things used to be in rural Terengganu, Malaysia in the mid 70s. Man, when it's really hot, ice is a wonderful thing even when it's hacked off a big block that's delivered by truck every morning and kept in a bin. And I survived that two-year stay in good shape. Have a wonderful time, but make sure you're tested for parasites after you get home. I speak from experience on that.

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This looks soooooo good. Can you describe it a bit more? Were there noodles involved? What sorts of seasonings? Spicy?

I want me some of that soup!!!

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Ice Delivery, Siem Reap

ice.jpg

Of course, that was three years ago, it's probably totally different now... the food i found there wasn't so memorable (there another thread here suggests looking for Khmer Kitchen), so it's a very good thing your driver knows where to take you--and if he can order for you, the interest & quality of the results should be better. if you can, post some contact so the next egulleter can find him.


Edited by mb7o (log)

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We picked this part of the world because we were planning to travel with a friend who is from this area; after her schedule changed we figured we'd just wing it. Neither of us speak Khmer or Thai, but anywhere we've been unable to find someone who speaks even a little English, we've been successfull by just pointing at stuff and bargaining for purchases using a calculator to show offers/counteroffers. Generally speaking, French is spoken in Cambodia by tour guides and people old enough to have been here when it was a colony.

We booked most of our hotels and regional travel arrangements a couple of days before we needed them - tonight we are firming up our transport from here to Phnom Penh and somewhere to stay once we get there for New Years' Eve. A few things we booked in advance (the week before we left).

We know enough about the food to be able to order what we want to eat, but we're far more likely to eat Thai food at a restaurant rather than try to replicate it at home. The only Khmer restaurant we've been to in the States is Battambang in Oakland - the majority of our success eating here has been following our noses and listening to our driver's advice.

Having been treated like a human pin cusion before we left for the trip I (Melkor) can't say I'm all that excited about the medical tests we'll need when we return home, but given that mb7o's picture of the ice delivery looks cleaner than what we saw I'd agree that some more poking and prodding might be in order.

That beef soup from this morning was available with noodles, but they seemed to be packaged ramen rather than the hand cut noodles we'd been enjoying in Thailand so we passed on them. The broth for the soup looked and tasted like it was made from a beef base with tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, lemongrass, with some lime to squeeze on top. The bread was really excellent - they were warming each piece on a charcoal grill before serving. It was definitely worth the 37.5 cents it cost.

If anyone needs contact info for our driver send either of us a PM and we'll forward his contact info.

We're wiped out from watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat, hiking all day, and watching the sun set from Phnom Bakheng - a temple on a hilltop overlooking the whole valley. We need to find a simple bite for dinner and get some sleep. In the morning we'll try and get some more pictures online, but for now here is a basic description of the rest of our day:

We had no luck finding breakfast II, but we had a nice lunch in the middle of nowhere next to Kbal Spean (2 hours from town on what it would be generous to call a road). Again no walls, though this place was surrounded by gardens. Since we had just driven past a huge tarp full of watermelons by the side of the road on the way there, we had to order a glass of watermelon juice when we saw it on the menu. Unlike the watermelon juice we've had in the States, this was thick and flavorful, and tasted as if it had just been squeezed. For lunch we had lok lak; if I (Melkor) were less asleep I'd ask Google what exactly it is - for now I'll leave it as cubed beef with garlic sauce and a lemon pepper sauce and a fried egg on top for good measure. We also had vermicelli with chicken and shredded carrots and cucumbers, green onions, basil, and peanuts on top. Later in the afternoon, we had a few glasses of sugar cane juice to cool off between temples - one of our new favorite beverages. It's pretty much what it sounds like - sugar cane that is juiced by passing it through a machine that looks like a giant pasta roller. Sometimes other juices (like pineapple) are added.

Signing off for now. More in the morning (night for most of you)!

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Your trip sounds amazing and I am loving your pictures and descriptions of the food and beverages. And how nice that your taxi driver can take you to some local places you might not have been inclined to try (or find). Keep it coming!

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Melkor and I have been collaborating on the posts so far, but I thought I'd add my own post since he's on an IP phone calling the states.

Last night we were both totally wiped out from the day - I didn't realize seeing the temples would be so strenuous. One of the temples was a 30-minute hike up a hill in the jungle, others required dozens of steps at up to 70 degree inclines, and a few involved scrambling over massive stones and climbing up what was left of various buildings.

So instead of dinner, we just had tea and crashed. Not very exciting for a foodblog!

This morning we both felt much better after 9-10 hours of sleep. I had my usual rice porridge, although this time I was much more liberal in my use of condiments, which you'll see in the picture when we post it later today. Very spicy and piping hot! Somehow that feels very comforting.

Melkor was in the mood for Western food, so he had French toast. Most of the bread here is baguettes (vestige of colonial times), which is what the French toast was made of. Surprisingly, the crust wasn't too hard. This would have been better with maple syrup or even honey, but I thought it was fine on its own. Both dishes were served with plate of pineapple and papaya, and tea. Good fuel for our last day at Angkor - today we are visiting the temple of Angkor Wat (the temple most people associate with Angkor).

This afternoon, we're taking a bus back to Phnom Penh. We flew out here a few days ago as we were running short on time, and the bus takes about 5 hours. Should be interesting.

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We will look forward to your safe return home! And in the meantime, I am enjoying your posts and pictures--not only for the connection to place, but also to the connection to a people who are undergoing such loss. Fried morning glory. For some strange reason, that gives me more of a sense of connection than anything else. I have morning glory in my yard.

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Morning Glory grows as a weed all over the place. What does it taste like, if that's possible to describe?

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