The land of temple ruins, stunning beaches & delectable food: Cambodia, A photo blog

Cambodia was on my ‘must travel’ list for quite some time, so I finally flew there with some close friends couple of days back. In fact the locals said that the best time to visit is between Jan to March, the weather being quite pleasant then.

A land known for its ancient temples, stunning architecture, beach parties, amazing seafood & Khmer cuisine and of course simple innocent people, Cambodia should definitely be on the must see list for any travel enthusiast. The sheer variety on offer is impressive enough to spend few days soaking up the local culture.

I have some lovely memories captured in photographs and in today’s blog, I am going to let these pictures do all the talking.

Presenting a photo-blog (of sorts) of my visit to Cambodia:

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Tuk Tuk: the preferred mode of conveyance in Cambodia
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Central market, Siem Reap, selling local handicrafts

 

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From handmade jewelries to wooden home decor items & souvenirs

 

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Some beautiful armbands up for sale!
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Fresh & juicy prawns at the local market
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Wat Preah Prom Rath, Siem Reap
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Typical Cambodian handcrafted basketry on display, in front of our hotel Sekla Villa, Siem Reap

      Angkor Wat in its full glory!

The quintessential shots of Angkor Wat at sunrise..in one word Magical 🙂 You have to be at the site as early as 5am and take your ‘spot’ to get the best shot, but the amazing view is worth all the efforts of waking up early.

                                                                                      the ruins…

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Bayon Temple, Angkor: 4 faces of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara everywhere

 

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Stunning Artistry

I have become a huge fan of Khmer cuisine after sampling some of their lip-smacking dishes in my week long stay. I can now safely say that Cambodian food is my second most favourite after Indonesian cuisine. There are some similarities with Thai cuisine in their use of spices like lemongrass, shallots and galangal and also generous use of coconut milk in some of their dishes. Fish sauce is widely used in stir fries and soups but one can find a lot of contrasts in their flavours, from sweet to salty, sour and even bitter!

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Khmer Chicken Fried rice
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Fish cakes: The best I have ever had

Khmer Chicken Curry: light, bursting with flavours and juicy succulent chicken pieces

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Fish Lok Lak with Black Pepper Dipping Sauce: a stir fried chicken marinated with salt, sugar, pepper, soy sauce & other spices. The highlight of this dish is the fiery dipping sauce which complements the dish.

 

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Fish Amok: My favourite among all. This classic Cambodian dish is a concoction of coconut milk and Khmer spice paste resulting in a creamy, fragrant sauce. Traditionally it is steamed & cooked in banana leaves and served with rice.
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A thin runny gravy version of Fish Amok

 

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Golden Lions Circle, Sihanoukville: The iconic roundabout in the beach town

 

Otres Beach II, Sihanoukville: soft white sand, crystal clear water, very few people and constant gentle breeze makes this the best beach to relax in Sihanoukville.

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Scrumptious Sea-food platter from one of the shacks at Otres II

 

Koh Rong: A speedboat from the main pier of Serendipity beach took us to Koh Rong island (took us about 45-50 mins). The beach is stunning, clear water like Otres, which makes swimming a lot more fun, although it was pretty crowded. The island had a very laid-back vibe to it which I loved and I had the best fish amok at one of the shacks here. Just take a big towel and a book/ music along, lie down with a drink and all is bliss 🙂

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The Mr. & I
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You can see for yourself how clear the water is!

Just avoid Serendipity main pier. Its too crowded, dirty and locals constantly trying to sell things by almost breathing down your neck and not letting you eat/ drink peacefully.

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One of our favourite shacks in Sihanoukville

Don’t miss visiting Pub Street, Siem Reap to experience the vibrant night life. Its a long stretch of road teeming with restaurants and bars and people making merry. The food and drinks are very affordable and after a long day of sight seeing, this is where everyone wants to go to and unwind. My favourites were the Angkor What? Bar and Temple Club.

 

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A very unique concept of an open bar. Loud music playing on laptops behind the counter, some bar stools and a makeshift stall selling alcohol. Voila!

 

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Yummy fried ice-cream

 

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National Museum, Phnom Penh: To get a glimpse of the cultural history of Cambodia

 

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S21, Phnom Penh: The dusty old high school which was turned into a torture and execution center during the regime of Pol Pot

 

Okay Boutique Hotel: Our stay at Phnom Penh was made memorable thanks to this lovely hotel which was more like a beautiful palace with the majestic Mekong river as a backdrop. The interiors were spectacular, each corner was resplendent with gorgeous Cambodian craftmanship. The rooms were quite spacious, awesome breakfast buffet and great service. I would highly recommend this place to anybody looking for a hotel close to the city center in Phnom Penh.

Overall, had a very eventful trip in Cambodia and before I forget I must mention how lovely the local people were, especially in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. They were so full of warmth and affection and genuinely took interest in making our stay memorable.

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Till we meet again

 

Welcoming the Chinese New Year at Absolute Thai Hot Pot, Mid Valley, KL

Gong Xi Fa Cai 🙂 

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Chinese New Year is undoubtedly the most important festival for the Chinese community. KL simply comes alive during these few days, with every nook and corner of the city being lit up, sales and discounts at shops, food stalls everywhere, beautiful decorations at malls, lion dances and fireworks!

Yesterday was the beginning of a long holiday for S and we decided to spend the next couple of days with friends- watching movies, going for drives, potlucks etc., basically chilling without a care 😀 We were at the Mid Valley mall and I suggested S & a friend that we go to Absolute Thai Hot Pot for dinner and they readily agreed. It’s rare that the husband would say no to Thai food 😛

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Our visit to this branch was a first, though we’ve been to a couple of their other outlets. Located at level 2, Center Court, its décor was all black which surprisingly had a very calming effect. We took a table near the corner from where we had a clear view of the outside. Although the restaurant was inside a mall, it felt as if we were sitting at a roadside open café.

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The menu was fairly exhaustive. We didn’t opt for their hotpot menu which was quite tempting, but settled for their usual fare instead.

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The menu

I have a thing for Chicken wrapped in Pandan leaves. It can be quite tricky though. You have to cook it just right to get the perfect texture- crunchy from the outside and soft, juicy inside. A little overcooked and what you have is an inedible hard piece of chicken. However, Absolute Thai nailed it. It was so delicious that it made us even hungrier.

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Pandan Leaves Chicken

The service was quite fast. As the waiter was bringing the other dishes to our table, I noticed S was glued to his phone looking at the highlights of a soccer match. Boys and their toys! After my stern look, he quickly put down his phone and beamed with delight looking at the food on the table.

Unfortunately the Tom Yam Soup with Seafood and Meehoon was the first thing I tasted. Why unfortunate? Because it was one of the worst tom yam soups I’ve ever had. It was so sour that all other flavours were overpowered and I felt as if I was biting on a piece of raw tamarind. I would never recommend it to anyone.

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Tom Yam Soup with Seafood and Meehoon (red base)

That made me somewhat skeptical about the other dishes we ordered. But my presumption was wrong thankfully. The Red Curry Roasted Duck was lip-smacking. The flavours were balanced perfectly. The sweet and spice quotient was just right and it tasted fabulous with plain white rice. The duck was quite soft, unlike a few other places I have had before, where it was hard and chewy.

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Red Curry Roasted Duck

The Green Curry Chicken was nice, so no complaints there but it wasn’t remarkable. I have had much better ones at other Thai restaurants in KL. S was busy removing chunky pieces of eggplant from the curry 😀  Otherwise he seemed to have enjoyed it.

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Green Curry Chicken

The best was saved for last. The Garlic and Black Pepper Fried rice with Fresh Crab was in one word heavenly! The crab was really fresh which elevated the dish to another level. It was mildly spiced and very juicy. The rice was perfectly seasoned with crushed black pepper and overall it was the best dish of the day.

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Garlic and Black Pepper Fried rice with Fresh Crab

Address: Mid Valley Megamall, 1, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City, 58000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Phone: +60 3-2201 5308

Open: 10am – 10pm

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