swining and dining

Friday, April 07, 2006

Angor Wat.....UP!

As I rifle thru my journal and remember the events of the past weeks, some definitely stand out for other reasons than culinary. Angor Wat, located in Siem Reap, Cambodia was a place I will not forget.

There are many marvels of past civilizations....Mayans, Egyptians, Incas...Angor Wat is in that category. Cambodia wasn't a culinary destination but a soulful destination. The success and popularity of the movie "Tomb Raider" had catapulted the attendance of this spiritual place... I did see the movie but didn't realize we were going there. As much of the trip, we went blindly, with only our accomodations planned, we immediatley scooped up our very good English speaking driver to be our "driver" for 3 days...he agreed to hook us up with ur own tour guide for Angor Wat and to show us the highlights of Siem Reap.

It is hard not to notice this poverty stricken country and the injustices that life and money play everyday. There in Siem Reap there are 5-6 (of 20) Five Star Hotels, many of them affordable by US standards....many of which emply locals and pump money into the economy. There is the good with the bad, as in all things in life I guess. Our stay there for 3 days cost more than what our driver would make in 1 year...and it wasn't that much. Mr. Peoiu, our driver, was so kind and accompanied us to several restuarants and local bars. His friend, Mr. Tee (I pity the fool) was our tour guide for Angor Wat.

Our first day started at where else the local market to eat some street food, we had a baguette with cheese and the most potent Paw Paw Salad (Green Papaya) I have ever had in my life. The locals couldn't stop laughing and smiling as I gasped for air and kindly asked for more sugar cane juice. It was food sweat heaven. Later that night Mr Peiou took us to a local hangout where one of the weirdest things happened. The moment we sat at our table we were bombarded by at least 20 girls selling beer..."buy from me Sir...buy from me Sir...I have Budweiser Sir".....DUDE that was surreal...I looked at Frank and Joe like a puppy being petted at a pet store...."Help Me"....Apparently the beer companies sponsor the girls to sell their beer...hard core. We ordered aimlessly and had a mediocre dining experience, as I ststed during dinner "Thank God I can't see what I'm eating....." we had frog legs like it was KFC's family bucket, steamed fish, and chicken...the best thing was of course the grilled pork. We left there early to get to bed because Angor Wat @ Sunrise was the plan for the next day.

BEEEEEEP BEEEEEP! 4:30am alarm. Up and ready to go! You would think not everyone would get up to see sunrise....Guess again....The entrance to the Temple was packed. Our tour guide Mr. T wasn't meeting us till 8am so we spent the first couple of hours on our own. Not knowing what to see or go we decided up it is....up the narrow and steep steps to the top of the temple. We were also warmed that it would be hot....yup.

This place is spiritual and magnificent, these temples are over 900 years old, only rediscovered within the last 30 years. You can't help notice the detail and lifelong commitments to the disciples of the King who took 28 years to build this temple. We made it to the top, unscathed but nerved from the climb....going down wasn't going to be fun. The monks wearing the bright orange robs were such a dramatic presence against the weathered limestone facade of the walls. There were also Buddhas that dotted the temples in certain areas.

It was time to meet our tour guide, but we were hungry so we scaled down the temple and made our way to the market are where we were bombarded by hundreds...ok tens of children trying to sell us stuff..we were warned the night before and we came prepared...oh yeah get this...the currency in which business is done in Cambodia...good ole US Dollars. We were al carrying "ones" as if we were going to a strip club for the first time.

We decided we would spread the wealth and buy little things from as many kids as we could. We did so and also bought sme original pieces of art from a local artist...food was next. At the beginning of the market we had beem recruited to eat a a certain food stall, as we approached the "food court", Fran and I found out we agreed to eat at 2 different stalls..so we did..not so fast. My "stalltender" offered eggs and baguettes...I countered and asked if I could cook breakfast for my friends and the kids...she looked at me as if I were crazy...oh yes...

I looked at the ingredients...onions, cabbage, eggs, seasoning of foriegn origin and noodles...ah pasta con juevos...I then yelled to Frank "Dude roll camera...on in 1 minute. After grabbing the knife and checking out the bunson burner word quickly spread thru the stalls as my first cooking show "angor wat style" was about to begin.

I had a blast, sweated my ass off as if I were on a line for the first time. The kids were held to my every move and took fancy to my "Emerilesque"....BAMMMMM! We plated up the food and the kids ate too...that was cool. At this point the infamous "cobra" made its first appearance. Joe was taken by the lifelike appearance of the snake and wore it around its neck...oh what stories the "cobra" could tell...the mascot was born.

The next day was another Angor Wat day...you can't do it in 1 day...folowed by a spa day with the boys (Hey, I'm on holiday...hate the spa not the treatments!) See you in Thailand.....24 hours in Bangkok....it aint no joke.

Swine over matter.

5 Comments:

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