At Cambodian Cuisine Festival, chicken with red ants

Crowd

There must have been more than 1,500 attendees, many shown from close to the entrance. You can glimpse the stage with its bright lights and representation of Angkor Wat middle right, and some of the lighted line of booths can be seen in the distance running left to right also in the middle of the photo.

The most unusual food offered among the scores of booths at the Cambodian Cuisine Festival that we attended did not much appeal to me. Although I am a fairly adventuresome eater, I passed on the grilled chicken with red ants. Had it been lilac ants, turquoise ants or even fuchsia ants, maybe I would have given it a try.  Uh, uh.  Not a chance.

That chicken with red ants.

Chicken with red ants (if I accurately recall the dish being at this booth among the scores of others).

I am phobic about insects.  (Yet Continue reading

Mondulkiri: Photos from an expedition to the provinces

At the end of our first day in Mondulkiri, clouds gathered over the "sea forest."

At the end of our first day in Mondulkiri atop a mountain, clouds gathered over the “sea forest” and threatened rain.  A downpour did arrive in town late at night.  (Click to enlarge all photos.)

The biggest laughs came near the end of our brief visit last week to Mondulkiri — the name of a city and verdant province northeast of Phnom Penh and adjacent to Vietnam — during the three-day Cambodia New Year holiday.

On a detour to avoid an impossibly pitted and dusty road under construction on the city’s outskirts, our car took us in the dark along a narrow street that parallels the Mekong River, on which cooled banks are cultivated patches of lettuce.

One relatively recent tradition of Khmer New Year is for clusters of boisterous youths to congregate alongside roadways, many of the kids with faces besmeared with flour or powder, some dripping wet and all of them demanding monetary tributes in a Cambodian version of Halloween: Pay up or Continue reading

To locals there is nothing like Cambodian New Year

Dangerous and exhausting as this transportation looks as the New Year approaches, sometimes passengers dare death by riding atop vehicles.

Dangerous and exhausting as this van transportation looked Friday before the New Year, sometimes passengers dare death by riding atop vehicles.  They reflect how powerful is the tug to go home.

Phnom Penh is emptying out as I write this, just before the start of the Cambodian New Year. The exodus has begun.

The holiday is a three-day celebration when the Khmer people head for party points, seaside resorts and, most important to them, the rural provinces and farms that mean “home” to them. Consider this sad post on Facebook from a student/waiter I know at the cafe where he works:

Why all of u give me alone? I’m really lonely….. All of u can go to ur homeland n happy but I can’t…. I really miss my homeland so much. I want to meet my family…. What should I do? How can I do?

Siam Reap, where Continue reading

The heavens have started to open up again and again

On the morning after the deluge, street life returns to its seasonal norm.

Early Sunday morning after the deluge, street life returns to its seasonal norm.

After departing New York City in mid-November and arriving here in early December, we saw rain for the first time about two weeks ago.  I had missed it.

That first tropical rainstorm, a downpour that lasted approximately two hours during the workday, made music on the tin roofs below my 11th-floor windows. Since I was in no hurry to go outside, I was sorry when the entertainment ended.

A little after midnight the other day, rains came again and then last night as well.  They are very much ahead of their time.

We were asleep when that first nighttime deluge arrived, so the floor-to-ceiling windows in our living room were open.  Let’s just say that those screwed-down screens were dirty and that they’re not so now.  I wish I could say the same for the tiled floor and plastic-upholstered furniture that comes with our rental. Continue reading