Fear Factor, Here I Come…!

I lost a bet and this was the consequence.  Pick any insect of my choice and gobble it down.  Hmmm…would it be the small goo-filled meal worms or the hard shelled Twinkie-sized beetles?  I went for the grasshoppers.  Are they this big everywhere??

The pick of the crunchy bunch

The pick of the crunchy bunch

Close up

The losers (there was no way)

"Maybe I'll just try a leg first..."  Very crispy.

“Maybe I’ll just try a leg to start…”  Very crispy.

Look at the size of this sucker

One leg down, and look at the size of this sucker

Crispy on the outside, crunchy on the inside, tastes a little like fish

Crispy on the outside, crunchy on the inside, tastes a little like fish

Do I have to eat the head too??  I think I'm done.

Do I have to eat the head too?? I think I'm done.

Ta-Daaa!

Posted: January 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Thailand | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Time for Thailand

Our travels have finally brought us to our final destination country. Thailand. We plan to stay as long as we can (read: until our visas run out), “why?” you ask? Well, because it’s Thailand. Although truthfully, we could have easily stayed longer in the vast majority of countries on our itinerary.

We crossed from Cambodia to Thailand at the Poipet/Aranya-Prathet land crossing. Just across an invisible line, lay our newest host country and while crossing was procedurally seamless, the difference couldn’t have been more obvious. Upon walking across the border to find a Bangkok-bound bus, the first things we noticed were a couple of shiny casinos at border’s edge, and outdoor bars and ATMs galore. We’re not in Cambodia anymore, Toto. Welcome to Thailand!

First meal in Thailand

First meal in Thailand

We arrived into Central Bangkok that evening and were welcomed by the sight of bright signs and neon, traffic lights and jams, street food vendors, and well-heeled ladies (and lady boys!) passing by the taxi window. Instead of playing our usual game of “find-a-guesthouse”, we were extremely fortunate to stay at the condo of a friend of mine. It was awesome and we almost didn’t want to leave. The views alone could have kept us entertained for a few days. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, when you’re on the road, there is nothing like than getting to stay in someone’s home and appreciating the creature comforts. We’ve been lucky enough to be hosted a handful of times throughout our journey, and for us, the opportunity always seems to come at the right time. Thank you again. All of you.

After prying ourselves away from Bangkok, we made it to Nakhon-Ratchasima (aka Khorat) to see some pre-Angkorian ruins (guess we didn’t get enough at Angkor??), and where we also celebrated the New Year in local style. An outdoor festival with tons of great food (heavenly) and live music (less heavenly) and other surprises (such as an actual snow-filled dome and holiday displays). We enjoyed the atmosphere and took it all in.

Bag of coke at Chatachuk Market (doubles as an icepack when done)

Bag of coke at Chatachuk Market (doubles as an icepack when done)

A couple of nights ago in Surin, while waiting for our meals at an outdoor street table, Jeff grabbed my arm, staring over my shoulder. My first thought was that there must be a cockroach on the back of my chair, but luckily for both of us, it turned out that Jeff was merely staring at a baby elephant walking around with a couple of handlers. For a few cents, we got a bag containing several sticks of sugar cane (or something resembling sugar cane) to feed to him. The little guy was a bit impatient (referring to the elephant), trying to get the sticks out of the bag on his own, but it was a great bout of evening entertainment. Plus, how often do you get to feed a baby elephant during dinner? I have a feeling Thailand will be full of surprises.

Posted: January 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Thailand | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Cambodia Eats

Again, as with so many elements of this trip, I didn’t know what to expect when it came to the cuisine of Cambodia. I thought about it. No signature dish or flavor came to mind. Time to test the waters!

So far, it’s been a mixed bag. As you know, we tend to frequent the street stalls and local street vendors, where menus are unheard of and the food is (almost) always more than worth the cents spent. In other words, street food has been good to us. So we expected more of the same in Cambodia. Maybe we’re not hitting up the right stalls. Nothing’s been horrible, but there’s nothing to write home about either. Lots of instant noodles with various toppings, rice porridge, and bland soups, and the ever present fried rice or noodles. However, we have slowly discovered that some of the restaurant prices are only slightly higher than the streets’. Once this discovery was made, we’ve taken to hunting down cheap restaurants with good food and have had some great success. Where Khmer street food may have fallen a bit flat on our palates, Khmer restaurant food has been outstanding.

Garlic pepper chicken (with famous fresh Kampot peppers)

Garlic pepper chicken (with famous fresh Kampot peppers)

The best curry to date (albeit a Thai style curry), has been had in Sihanoukville. Best fruit salad? Phnom Penh. A garlic pepper chicken that was so good, we went back and ordered it for lunch the next day. A couple nights Jeff even treated himself to barbecued barracuda (with salad and baked potato) for $3….which he thoroughly enjoyed, even if he didn’t enjoy my sneaky fork tactics. And if anybody is wondering about the “happy pizzas”…ours was a better than average pizza, but we have decided that a more appropriate title would be “relax-y pizza”, since shortly after polishing it off, I fell asleep in the middle of a conversation discussing how relaxed we were feeling. This, thankfully back at our guest house, not in the restaurant!

Neither of us has encountered the highly anticipated tarantula, scorpion, or other such fried nasty on a stick, and other than for a photo op, I’m not really looking forward to that moment. In the meantime, I’ll be happily digging into what may be my next new favorite Khmer dish.

Happy Jeff with a "happy pizza"

Happy Jeff with a "happy pizza"

Note: Shortly after writing this blog, we have had great luck with street food again in Siem Reap.

Posted: December 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Cambodia | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »