Cambodia


I started sorting through some pictures from the past year and a half a while ago to do a pretty photo entry, my last in Asia for a long time. Then time started really flying and work got in the way and on and on and in the end I just mashed a couple of shots together. It will have to do for now.

Apart from 18 months in South Africa and the US, Asia has been my home for the past 9 years. First Taiwan and then Thailand. Since we came to Thailand last year we traveled all over the country and visited Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. I became even more deeply attached to this part of the world and would gladly stay longer, but the time has come for us to move on to new adventures.

We are flying back to the States later today to spend Christmas and New Years’ with Alexander’s family, something we’ve been looking forward to now for months. We will finally get to meet his niece and enjoy having a kitchen again and the company of his family.

And then it’s off to South Africa to start a new life in my home country. I’m scared of leaving this part of the world, but excited about what is lying ahead. And of course, this is not my last time here. So to Asia I say Tot weersiens for now. Untill I see you again.

Photobucket

Although this was my third trip to Cambodia, I have never been to the coast before. So when we started planning our trip we were very certain that we wanted to see some of the country’s coast this time round. We were researching Sihanoukville, when we discovered that somewhat to the east of this famous beach city lies Kep.

Photobucket

Kep, allegedly, used to be the place to be from the thirties to the late sixties. The glamorous and wealthy of yesteryear all owned attractive modernist villas and enjoyed weekends of luxury in this see-and-be-seen coastal town. But then came the Khmer Rouge with their penchant for destruction and years of civil war and Kep was abandoned. It’s inhabitants fled or were killed and their villas used as target practice by distruction-crazed soldiers.

Photobucket

Recently, however, Kep has been having some sort of a revival. Its close proximity to Phnom Penh, loads of giant crab found in the bay and a need for less crowded coastal property seems to have caused a teeny tourism boom. A couple of very attractive guest houses have sprung up in the hills behind the town. Some new and some in renovated former villas.

Photobucket

We decided to stay spend our two nights on the coast at Veranda Natural Resort, a beautiful sprawling resort set in the hills behind the town’s crab market with views of the ocean and some Vietnamese islands in the distance. Our bungalow had two ‘rooms’. One was in the bungalow and the other was part of our veranda. There was also a hammock and we enjoyed lovely ocean views and were visited by a giant gecko on our second night.

The grounds at Veranda was something amazing. The province of Kampot where Kep is, is known for its rich soil and fresh produce and it was very obvious from all the fruits growing in abundance in our garden.

Photobucket

Bananas, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, chillies and guavas seemed to be growing wild.

Photobucket

There were numerous coconut trees as well as loads of jackfruit trees. Their enormous fruits dangling precariously from the branches.

And of course Kampot’s most famed export was also to be found in our garden.

Photobucket

Kampot pepper. Most definitely the best fresh pepper I have ever tasted. Spicy, but not overwhelming, and a floral hint that leaves you wanting more. We made sure that we ordered at least one dish with fresh Kampot pepper whenever we dined.

Whereas Kampot province is famous for pepper, Kep is nowadays famous for crab. Hence the statue in the first image. The crab is caught pretty much right in front of your eyes at the crab market. From the side the market looks like homes dropping into the deep ocean, but the water is actually quite shallow. While sitting inside any of the numerous restaurants in the market you can watch the ladies of the markets wading out into the ocean and dragging back the crab cages.

On weekends, day trippers from the capital flock to the market to dine on mountains of crab and buy some fresh crab to take with back to the city.

Photobucket

We came for lunch both days we were in Kep. The food was incredible. Both times we ordered the crab curry with fresh pepper. It was a divine dish. I literally sat with one crab leg for about 10 minutes, savoring the sauce, the meat and the pepper. I think I could happily eat this everyday. It was incredible. We also enjoyed some fresh squid and fish but nothing came close to the crab.

Photobucket

Sadly we had to leave for Phnom Penh again after only two nights for visa business. But I know that I will have to go back to Kep to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, the abundance of fruit, and of course, the crab and the pepper again.

I’m back from a pretty relaxed trip to Cambodia. Despite some long bus journeys and time spent at embassies and border control, we still had lots of time to enjoy fabulous Khmer food and good cocktails.

Photobucket

In a kind of big move both of us have resigned just before we left for this trip and we are now kind of unemployed/freelancing. It was not exactly an impulse decision, but also not something we mulled over for weeks. It felt like the right thing to do though and I am looking forward to having more time to spend on sewing, cooking, baking and writing. So expect to see some more regular entries here. Starting with some on our trip to be published very soon.

Before I get to that though. Can anybody spot something different in the picture below?

Photobucket

Photobucket

Yes, these are frittatas. Muffin frittatas if you want. I made some a while ago and thought of throwing the egg mixture into my muffin pans and see what the end result is and loved it. Actually, I loved it better when they were still in the oven because they become very puffy and fun, but they loose a bit of that when they are released from the heat. But I still like them, little individual muffin-shaped frittatas.

They’re super easy to make. What you need is:

5 eggs

1/3 cup pouring cream

1 spring onion- white part minced

8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

salt and pepper

some grilled and sliced pepper for the topping

To make:

Preheat the oven to 200C. Have muffin pans handy, I used silicone ones, if you don’t I suggest greasing your pans a little first.

Mix the eggs, cream and spring onions together in a bowl and add slat and pepper to taste. Put the tomatoes into the pans and pour the egg over. This should be enough for 4 pans. Cook in the oven for about 30 minutes or until set. Remove and let it cool slightly before serving with the sliced pepper on top. Easy, tasty and fun to look at!

Photobucket

And now we are almost on our way to Cambodia! My sister is visiting and we decided to spend some time there.

Photobucket

We’ll be re-visiting Siem Reap and the temple complexes at Angkor. Alexander and I were there last year and I went with another friend almost 7 years ago. Even so I am still looking forward to wandering around between these awesome structures. And kicking back with a cocktail at the FCC afterwards!

Photobucket

From Siem Reap we’ll be going back to Phnom Penh and then onto Kep and Sihanoukville along the coast. Hopefully I will have some stories and good pictures of our trip upon our return next week.