Posts Tagged With: shopping

We Sail Tonight For Singapore

Not so long ago, Sean and I were student teaching in Madison, Wisconsin. When it came time to start the job search, we applied to the Singaporean public school system. Trust me, it felt as surreal as it sounds.  This was before we knew about overseas recruitment fairs. A professor of Sean’s recommended we apply to Singapore, and that she’d put in a good word for us. (As she “knew people” in Singapore.)

We sent our paperwork off and waited a few days. To our surprise, we received an email telling us to go to the Town Bank building on the capitol square at 10:30 at night. There, we would buzz the entrance to the complex, be led to an empty conference room on the seventh floor in the pitch dark, and conduct a video interview with the Singapore school board. We did all this, and were offered a position within the week.

Why am I telling you this? Because we visited Singapore this past month for the first time, and I couldn’t help but think about how our lives would have been different had we accepted the job.

Not only that, but my student teaching supervisor kept singing the Tom Waits song, “We sail tonight for Singapore” as we contemplated accepting the job or not.

Needless to say, there was something that didn’t feel quite right, and we politely declined the offer.

After tasting Singapore’s food and walking there streets, maybe I would have said differently all those years ago…

 

IMG_1719We were there for a conference, and settled into a nearby hawker center for a drink and an Indian meal. Tiger beer is the iconic beverage of Singapore, and due to its international nature, Indian food can be found on every menu.

 

IMG_1722A hawker center is a bit like an open-air food court. People order an iced tea, a meal, or just a snack and rest for a while on the plastic chairs.

IMG_1728As Asian as the hawker center felt, there was so much that was British and colonial about the country.  Such as the absurd pictures for bathrooms in the hotel.

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IMG_1736A morning photo down the street as we walked to the subway. Yes, Singapore is as clean as it’s rumored to be. Also, everything is in English, and the cars are impeccably clean and modern. I think it must be a literalcrime to own an old car in Singapore.

 

IMG_1743The famous “No durians” subway sign! You actually cannot take a durian on the subway. The poor, ostracized fruit. I feel bad for the durian; it is the object of everyone’s contempt despite its luscious meaty interior and pungent, unique aroma.

But seriously. The smell of a durian is like boiling a pot of gym socks, onions, vomit, and sangria. Anthony Bourdain described it as “Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.” And he loves durian.

Me? I’ve only ever had durian ice cream. And I liked it. A lot. Honest! It was that type of flavor where the initial taste is slightly repulsive, but the mouthfeel and lingering aftereffect is mouthwateringly curious. You aren’t quite sure whether you like it or not, but you can’t stop eating. I once read an article about a couple who moved to Southeast Asia because they became obsessed with the taste of durian. (You can read more here.) Animals can detect the smell half a mile away.

No wonder it’s forbidden on public transportation.

IMG_1751Another Singaporean classic: The Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

IMG_1788We settled into a restaurant across the water from the hotel and watched the evening light and sound show. All of Singapore felt a little like Disneyland.

IMG_1794After our final day of the conference, we had an evening to explore. As our hotel was in the shopping district, we decided to take it easy and see what the surrounding streets had to offer. It was a bit like being downtown Chicago.

IMG_18077-Eleven is another Southeast Asian ubiquity. We don’t have them yet in Cambodia, but their presence everywhere else is simply astounding.

IMG_1811When it was time for dinner, we went to a food court. That’s right, a food court. Why, you ask? So we could order the following:

Kim’s Meal: Barley tea and nasi lemak (The national dish consisting of coconut rice, fried fish and chicken, and spicy sauce.)

Sean: Pink juice and pepperoni pizza

Like I said, Singapore has something for everybody.
IMG_1824To end our multicultural evening, we stumbled across an outdoor art exhibit. Just when you think you can’t get any more “Wow, I’m really in Asia,” you see a giant glittering dragon. I love it.

 

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Categories: Singapore | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saturday At Central Market

I have a confession.

I may pride myself on the upkeep of Angkor’s Away, but I actually have  a silent partner. I write the words, I frame the posts, I generate the ideas… but I take none of the photos.

You can pretty much count on Sean as the photographer for Angkor’s Away. Almost all of the time. Without him, this blog would be imageless stories.

Now that you have some background, I can tell you a story. Since we got the GoPro, we have barely taken any pictures. The GoPro captures such amazing video footage, that I bring it everywhere. It’s a weird transition—I used to carry a camera and snap photos as we went about our day. But with the GoPro, you turn it on, hold it in your hand, and pretty much forget about it. Then, we look back through the footage and take screen shots of the pictures we like the most.

We just finished up our first school year here in Cambodia. We have officially lived in Phnom Penh for eleven months. So, the weekend before we left, I headed up to Central Market, with the goal to take some photos of my own.

DCIM101GOPROThe corner of Central Market. A cyclo driver cleaning his carriage, getting ready for a busy day.

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 8.24.44 AMThe alleys near Central Market.

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 8.23.20 AMA family ready to sit down to breakfast, and a woman going about her daily business.

DCIM101GOPROCentral Market. It was built in 1937, and was said to be the “largest market in Asia” at the time. It was designed in Art Deco style by French artist Louis Chauchon.

 

DCIM101GOPROOranges for sale. Our oranges are green here, but they still taste just as good!

 

DCIM101GOPROSkewers of __________, frying in oil, ready for sale.

 

DCIM101GOPROThese ladies were really cute. They were selling fresh honeycomb! Some even still had bees sitting on them. They didn’t want me to take their picture, they wanted me to buy their honey.

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 8.18.50 AMA popular walk-way along Central Market.

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 8.19.45 AMMangos, mangos, everywhere!

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 8.22.53 AMThe main dome of Central Market. Jewelry, sunglasses, and watches are in the central dome. It has a really cool feel.

 

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 8.25.44 AMDid I say we have a lot of mangos in Cambodia?

 

DCIM101GOPROAfter Central Market, I stopped by one of my favorite smoothie ladies on my way home. On the corner by the National Museum, “Davy’s Shake Shack” whips up some of the most delicious fruit smoothies I have had in a while. My favorite is passion fruit, mango, coconut.

Screen Shot 2014-05-31 at 8.16.57 AMAnd so I sat with my smoothie and took in the view. What a great way to end a trip to the hustling and bustling Central Market.

 

And that’s it! Year #1 in Cambodia is finished! I didn’t want to say this, but I am actually sitting in Seoul Airport as I type this. The year is really over. But, don’t worry, this is still so much to see! I have another amazing video to show you from our explorations in Thailand, and there is also the undiscovered wilds of Wisconsin… and probably some photos of cheese curds and good beer. If it isn’t consumed too quickly.

 

Check back soon!

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

An Afternoon In Phnom Penh, With New Eyes

 

Hi everyone! I can’t believe how fast this year has gone. It is almost April… we have spent eight months in Cambodia. In some ways, it feels like we have just arrived. In other ways, I feel like we’ve been here for years.

It is almost Khmer New Year, which spans from April 13 – 16. We have a week off school, and will be spending some time soaking up the beauty of the Cambodian & Thailand coast. But before we get there, I’ve got to share a few more special moments from our daily life with you.

This batch of photos comes from my dad‘s camera. (Thanks, Dad!)When he was visiting back in January, we had a blast exploring Phnom Penh together. Even though I had been living here for only six months, I had already viewed so much of my surroundings as “normal”. When my Dad came, however, he was astounded by the slightest things! He took lots of photos, asked lots of questions, and enjoyed every moment.

I invite you to view an afternoon in Phnom Penh, as seen from new eyes.

IMG_2079Weddings. Birthdays. Funerals. In Phnom Penh, a celebration normally means a giant traffic jam, as all events are held inside huge tents that are constructed in the middle of the street. As I was frustratingly inching my way through traffic, my dad snapped a great photo of the entry to the tent. Looks like a great party! The women wear beautiful dresses, and spend lots of time making their hair and make-up perfect. Sean and I are going to a celebration next weekend, held by a Cambodian friend of ours in his village. I will be sure to take pictures for you!

 

IMG_2090We got lunch at my favorite counter in the Russian Market. They are fresh noodles, salad, coconut milk, a tangy vinegar sauce, and slices of taro-filled egg rolls! It is truly divine. My dad washed it all down with a fresh-squeezed orange juice.


IMG_2127As our food journey continued, we came across a street vendor I had never seen before. We ordered two of his sweet treats, which turned out to be circular pancakes with different fillings.

 

IMG_2129And then we got smoothies. You can never have enough smoothies. These were from the top floor of Sorya Mall. You’ve got to take a break from the heat and slip into the A/C of the mall!

IMG_2098Back in the markets, we had another round of street food. These are gelatinous fried balls, filled with a coconut milk mixture. You dip them in a tangy-spicy sauce. I absolutely love them. My sister and I were staring with such intent as they had just come out of the deep-frier. You couldn’t touch them—they were so hot they could scald your skin.

IMG_2112Inside Central Market (Psar Thmei), my sister scouts for earrings. I took her to my favorite vendor. It’s funny how when you make friends with a seller, and give them repeat business, the price automatically drops from $8 to $2.
IMG_2116If you know what these are, please leave a comment! They looked like snakes in water. They were writhing all over each other.

IMG_2118Typical produce vendors in the market. This is where I generally buy all of my fruits and veggies.

IMG_2124A woman selling her jackfruit. (Which tastes like bubblegum!)

IMG_2125Bugs for sale. Really. Lots and lots of bugs.

 

IMG_2102To polish off our day of wonder and gluttony, we headed to get some Cambodian BBQ. It was our first time there, and we had no idea how to work the grills. We tried our best, and had quite the feast!

We actually went back to the Cambodian BBQ a week ago with our friends, Anna and Chris. Anna snapped a much better photo of us that actually shows you what the Cambodian BBQ is supposed to look like:

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Look at all that meat! And all those vegetables. Yum, yum, yum!

There is so much that is great about Cambodia. But I really love the food. (Except maybe the edible bugs and snakes. Maybe…)

 

 

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

Toul Tom Poung, The Russian Market

I have a new addiction. In Kuwait, I satisfied my desire for adventure by scouring the dusty city for new restaurants on crumbling side streets. In Phnom Penh, I barely have to leave my neighborhood. I have the Russian Market.

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Here is the outside of the market from across the street.

The Russian Market has restaurants, mechanics, souvenirs , clothing, tailors, instruments, cafe, cleaning supplies, electronics, hair salons, I can’t even begin to fathom what the Russian Market DOESN’T have. It’s more than a “market”, it’s a maze of vendors, smells, sights; a feast for the senses. I am addicted to exploring every crevice!

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The Western name is the Russian Market due to the large numbers of Russian people who apparently shopped here in the 1980’s. In Khmer, it is called Toul Tom Puong. It’s such a great neighborhood to live in—the only Western thing surrounding the market is a  KFC. (We’ve never been, either, thank you very much!) The grey area of the map is a covered building, or series of buildings, I suppose, with mazes of vendors all throughout. Inside it’s hot and sticky, so tie your hair up in a ponytail, roll up your sleeves, and let’s go inside!

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As you can see, people are eating right next to the clothing vendors. Me? I’m obsessed with the Khmer coffee. I get them every weekend, sometimes twice a day if I’m feeling particularly thirsty (or drowsy). I should really do a separate post on Khmer coffee, because it is out of this world. For between 35 cents to $1, you can get the most delicious iced coffee with sweetened-condensed milk, fresh milk, or just black if that’s how you like it.

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A typical drink vendor—she is selling anything from avocado smoothies, soda, shave ice, and of course, iced coffee. You can see the guy eating on the left, which was something cool I found out yesterday while I was exploring. You can sit at any vendor you like, while having placed another order with a different vendor. They will bring you your food. Yesterday I had delicious stir-fried noodles with vegetable and egg while sitting next to a man who had food and drinks from three different vendors in front of him!

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You really can buy anything in the Russian Market….

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Some sections of the market can be pretty touristy, which is fun, too. After we get our first paycheck I think I’m going to check out the clothing and woven goods. This is also the bartering atmosphere, so you’ve got to have a price in mind and fight for it, while being willing to compromise. I kind of enjoy the bartering experience, to be honest! It’s a game, and I love practicing my Khmer!
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Another food vendor. This woman specializes in, well, I’m not too sure, but I think noodles with a variety of meats. You’d be surprised all the choices and options they have behind the glass cases—I even saw someone eating Spam on their noodles yesterday!

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We cracked up when we saw this shirt—it was something people in Kuwait often said, “Same same.” It generally means that both options are equally good, or that the difference between two things is insignificant. IMG_6492

But sometimes things aren’t truly “same same”. Same same can also mean “as you wish”, “ok”, “I heard you”, or ‘same same’ will be said when two things aren’t the same at all. It really depends on the context!

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I love to buy my produce at the Russian Market—it’s so much cheaper than the Western grocery store, and I’ve even found it to be fresher at times.

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You can buy Revlon make-up in florescent, fancy shops, or you can get your eggs and chicken feet alongside your Channel knock-off wardrobe. (Can you spy the Chicago Bulls shirt, too?)

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I have eaten inside the market quite a few times, but Sean is still warming up to the idea. We have yet to get sick, and you can have the most delicious, fresh, authentic Asian food for only $1!

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Like I said, I love the produce. I am taking Khmer lessons, so am able to complete transactions entirely in Khmer! I don’t know the names of all the vegetables, though, so pointing works just as well.

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We don’t buy the meat, though. Would you?

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The woman in the center is selling eggs! Once you become comfortable in the heat and the crowds, it becomes a real treat to do your shopping here. I much prefer it!



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Outside the market there are also a plethora of vendors. This picture is comically bad timing, but I wanted to show you this strange food that we tried once.

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It was like a crunchy crepe—almost like a waffle cone flavor and texture—filled with a sweet creme and MAYBE orange shavings. The orange stuff was either a flavored coconut, or a citrus fruit. We loved them!

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I had Sean hold my snack while I snapped a picture. You can see a guy selling grilled corn on the cob in the background.

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At night, the market shuts down and becomes a series of grill cafes. You can walk along and choose your restaurant based on what you see them grilling. We can’t wait to try the seafood—I am in love with their prawns here!

IMG_6608Here you go, my favorite picture. This picture is from last weekend. I went out to the market and purchased all this produce, the eggs, the rice, the tofu, the avocados, a half kilo of garlic, sliced ginger, precut veggies… all for under $7. We ate like kings! I can’t stress how excited I am to have visitors here to Cambodia so that I can treat them like royalty… not to mention guide them through the jungle that is the Russian Market.

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

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