Posts Tagged With: crab shack

Cambodia’s Hidden Corner

When most people hear “Cambodia”, this is what comes to mind:

1. The Khmer Rouge

2. Laura Croft

3. Angkor Wat

4. Nobody really gets past #3… but if you did, “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. (Even though that was in Thailand).

5. Backpackers

6. Asian Women

7. The Mekong River

8. Not Thailand.

9. The French

10. Sihanoukville 

A valid list, but definitely not accurate. Not in the purest sense of Cambodia. When most people book their tour du monde, their Cambodian stop over generally involves the Killing Fields, Angkor Wat, and some form of Khmer curry.

Hopefully you’ve gained a greater sense of Cambodian geography and culture through the past seven months here at alohakuwait. I’m here today to expand your knowledge a step further. It’s high time I paid homage to that great road trip—from Phnom Penh to the Thai border. Most people speed through on an afternoon bus, in transition from Bangkok to Phnom Penh. They see the stretch from Koh Kong to the Mekong river as a boring, bumpy ride that stands in the way of their Southeast Asian experience.

Well, Cambodia’s got a lot of secrets in her hidden Southwestern passage…

But, since I came from a family of pig farmers, let’s be honest with ourselves.

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The pigs. Stick ’em in barrels, stack ’em on trucks, slide ’em in trailors. There is no modest way to transport pigs anywhere in the world. Any country that tells you otherwise is lying to you.

As you wind your way along highway 4, the road begins to climb through heavily forested hills. The slopes become steeper, and the homes become sparser. It feels as if you have left the populated world behind. Just as you are ready to pull over to marvel at the beauty of it all, a turn off is provided for you.

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And what a turn off it is. I had driven past this specific stopping point numerous times on the way to the beach, and never noticed the troupe of monkeys that live in this stunning valley. Man, if you never pulled over, you would never SEE the stunning valley! There are myriad Buddhist shrines, and the monkeys are not seen as pests but rather positive additions to mother earth. Look at this killer playground they’ve got!

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Nothing says road trip like sipping on a cold soda and watching some monkeys.

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Or were the monkeys watching us? I wonder what they wrote about me in their blog…

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Like I said, this turn off was really pretty awesome. There were monks, chanting, shrines, monkeys, rituals, and of course, tubes of Pringles and fresh-cut pineapple for sale. What more could you want?

By the time we rolled onto the coast,  it was time for lunch. (Isn’t it always?)IMG_1939

So where else do you go but the Crab Chack. Home of the tastiest crab in Koh Kong.

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And while you wait for said crab, you can relax on their swing with your sister, dipping your toes in the water, sipping on a well-deserved Anchor or two. Paradise.

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I have previously blogged about the Rainbow Lodge in Koh Kong, but I have found yet another place of passion. Welcome to Thmorda Garden Riverside Resort. You can lounge on the shore of the river, and kayak in the mangroves all afternoon. The best part? You’ve got this entire place all to yourself.

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And their patio is fantastic.

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Morning in Koh Kong: Such a kaleidoscope of colors. Why rush through on the way to something better? You can’t find a superlative to this.

We did spend a few days in the luxury of Koh Kong and Southwestern Cambodia, and then we moseyed on to Thailand. On the road, my dad (who was visiting with my sister!!!) snapped a photo of something I have so long overlooked: the spirit houses. You see them everywhere, but I hadn’t really though twice about them until my dad brought it up.

IMG_1953Spirit houses are common in Southeast Asia, and are placed in a particular spot of your home, business, or natural area (often at the base of trees). They are a place for the spirits to be appeased—or to reside—depending on who you talk to. It is believed that so long as you keep the spirits happy, you will live a prosperous life. Sometimes spirits is synonymous with ghosts. I recently had a seventeen year old student tell me he was afraid of ghosts. I had to ask around to determine that he was talking about the spirits, which are very prevalent in Thai and Cambodian culture.

Your mission, if you choose to accept it: Take a road trip. Explore your home. Find something new. Stop at a place you’ve never stopped at before. Take a picture of something you’ve seen a million times. Maybe you’ll find monkeys. Maybe you’ll find spirits. Maybe you’ll find love.

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Categories: Cambodia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Kim And Sean’s Big Adventure To The Coast: Part One

I have been chomping at the bit to share our most recent adventure with you. As teachers, we work the basic 9-5 (or more like 6-5) job, Monday through Friday. When the weekend rolls around, we’re normally too knackered (a word I’ve adopted from our Kiwi friends here) to do anything but lay around the pool and catch up with our friends. When we got our first three-day weekend, we were set on venturing out of the city. I love Phnom Penh, it’s awesome, but there is so much more of Cambodia to see.

In Kuwait, there was Kuwait City, and that was pretty much it. I never felt like I was cheating myself on the weekends because I was doing all that there was to do, and I was loving it. Here, there is so much vast, untrammeled beautiful places, that they whisper to me in my sleep, taunting me.

When we accepted this job, I began to Google and fall in love with the Cardamom mountains.

We were planning on catching a bus to the coast, but our friends offered us a ride in their car to head out into the mountains to a lodge on the coast. (Yes, you can do both “mountains” and “coast” in one weekend!)

So, we all packed into their Mitsubishi Pajero and headed to Koh Kong.

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It’s a four-and-a-half hour drive, and really got stunningly beautiful about halfway through. If you look at the map above, you can see all of the environmentally-protected areas. I never knew Cambodia had so many reserves and parks myself until we got here.

The most popular part of the coast is Sihanoukville, which is near Ream National Park on the above map. To get to Sihanoukville it’s about a two and a half hour drive. The Cardamom Mountains, where we were going, take up the left-hand side of the country along the Thai border. Koh Kong is a small town along the border, and the lodge we were staying in was a twenty-minute drive inland. We were meeting another couple there, who also work at the school.

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Our friends Chino and Anna have a lovely puppy named Kampot. I am kind of falling in love with him and his goofiness.

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Cambodian countryside.

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We took a bathroom break on the long drive at a small roadside cafe. I love Cambodia’s calico sky.

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We found a new litter of puppies at the cafe. They were such cute little things! I want to get a dog so badly, but know it would be tough on both us and the doggy due to all the travel we do. I think I’ll just offer to babysit Kampot as much as possible!

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As we rolled into the Koh Kong area, Chino and Anna pulled off the road and told us we would be able to spot the lodge in the forest. I was confused about what they meant, but, lo and behold, we saw the teeny bungalows peeking out of the wilderness! You can only access the lodge by boat, but I will talk more about our arrival later…

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The pull out where we spotted the lodge. We are loving Cambodia.

Before we headed up the river to the lodge, we decided to get lunch. We had been driving since 8am, and it was around noon. We drove up to the coast and took a dirt road along one of the tributary rivers to a place called the “Crab Chack” (… or “shack” to us Western landlubbers). We had heard about how divine the seafood along the coast was, but I truly had no conception of what we were about to experience.

IMG_6716The Crab Shack was a little hideaway on the coast with hammocks, tables, and a few tourists sipping beer alongside the locals.

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You could walk along the beach, where Anna and Sasha looked at the beach glass. I was on a sensory overload. I didn’t know where to turn or what to do, it was all too much to soak in. I kept telling Anna and Sasha that I felt like I was on some tropical vacation that I would have to leave in a week and never see again, but then realized that I will be living here… for quite a while.

Then the food came.

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And what a feast it was. Anna told us to order the prawns with garlic. Each plate was heaped with the largest prawns I had ever seen. You would then create a dip made of fresh crushed Cambodian pepper and squeezed lime. The pot at the top of the photo held rice, which made it a symphony of flavors and textures in your mouth.

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I had never had such prawns in my life. They were so meaty, it was mouthfuls of shrimp. Never before in my life did I ever think I’d say, “Wow, that was a delicious mouthful of meaty, tender, juicy shrimp.” No tartar sauce needed here, folks.

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While we were eating, Sean spotted quite a beastly arachnid above our table.

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Here he tried to take another picture of the spider, but instead got a great shot of the atmosphere and mood of our lunch. Love the guy in the back.

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I was sad to leave the Crab Shack, but know that we will be back.


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Then it was time to head to the lodge… but this step of the journey must wait for another day. As it was our first ‘big journey’ out of the city, we took 300 pictures in 3 days. We were a little out of control. Instead of cramming all the pictures into one long post about the weekend as a whole, I thought you’d enjoy shorter, more focused posts to keep it interesting and palatable.

Check back in a few days to see where this boat takes us!

Categories: Cambodia | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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