We got up this morning and arranged for our bus ticket to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Our main goal was to head to Sihanoukville, a Cambodian beach town between our current location and the capital, but sadly buses don’t work that way here. Still, I was looking forward to showing the city to Travis and excited for good food.
We were happy to meet up again with Natasha and Pete this morning, and even happier when they announced that they would be skipping their sightseeing plans in Battanbang and come with us to Sihanoukville. I had talked about the beach town a bunch last night, and apparently I had convinced them to go and visit. Yay!
We piled up in the bus and made the long journey to the other side of the country. We had picked-up a strange snack at the market, and we soon learned that it was very energizing and addictive. Eventually I figured out why: the leaf that was wrapped around the (perhaps) fish paste and the hot pepper was a betel leaf. Sadly, we never found that snack again.
Once in the capital we took a tuk tuk around the waterfront to try and find a room. Things were a bit full and overpriced, but we ended up finding something decent a bit further down the riverfront than anticipated. Once settled in, we went back out again for food. On the agenda: Mexican food and bugs.
First up was the bug. Natasha had wanted to eat one on her trip, and Cambodia is a good place for it. You can find loads of cooked bugs on offer in Thailand, but they are mostly for tourists. And they do not serve tarantulas. And Natasha had her heart set on it. Surprisingly enough, it was easy to find. There were bug vendors along the riverfront, and locals driving by kept stopping to buy bags of various bugs. It was decided that one tarantula would probably be enough for the four of us, and so we shared it. I only ate a leg, and so I can’t really comment of what the body tasted like, but Travis said that it was “meaty”. The leg was dry and hairy, and it tasted… very unique. The gross part was the hair: they got stuck between our teeth and they were quite difficult to get out.
[Edit (from the future!): Travis says that it was two tarantulas for the four of us – emphasis on the fact that Travis ate an entire tarantula (minus one leg).]
Good thing that we had Mexican food and margaritas to chase the tarantula down. Back in 2005 I had discovered Cantina, a Mexican restaurant on the main strip. It was new enough not to be in the guidebook, and the owner really knew what he was doing. The food was fantastic, so I was looking forward to eating there again on this trip. It was still tasty and worth the visit.