Tastes of Cambodia

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Siem Reap, Cambodia

It was a leisurely start and we had promised the kids that they could sleep in. But by 8.30, we decided that we had better wake them if we were to visit the temples before the day heated up.

Following James' recommendations, we had two temples to visit and took a tuk tuk to Pre Rup, built in 961 by Rajendravarman II. This was a pyramid shaped temple mountain, with five towers on the uppermost of the three tiers. It was a steep climb up and the view from the top was amazing.

Stone lions stood guard at the top of the staircase, but unfortunately had all lost their faces. We spent some time picking out the figures in the lintels before climbing back down.

Our second temple for the day was Banteay Samre built in the first half of the 12th century by Suryavaman II in the style of Ankgor Wat. As it was a little off the grand circuit through the temples, there were few visitors, and it was very tranquil walking around the outer wall to the causeway entrance. It was quite a small structure with a central temple and four wings. It was enclosed by two large concentric walls which would once have contained an inner moat.

We headed back into town, via the Angkor Handicrafts association which was interesting to browse, but had nothing we wanted to buy, and then went onto the Angkor National Museum. We ate our bread and cheese looking over green grass and a water feature - both very unusual in Cambodia. We spent a couple of hours wandering through the galleries to learn about the history of the Khmer kings and the temples, and it really helped our understanding of the Gods to which the temples are dedicated.

We returned to the hotel just in time to meet our tuk tuk drivers who were taking us off to our cooking class. This was on the other side of town and in the countryside. We started by visiting a local family and seeing their very rudimentary living conditions and cooking facilities, as well as learning about some of the local plants and herbs.

We prepared three dishes: beef with Kroeung (a spice and herb paste that we made from scratch), fresh spring rolls with chicken and bananas with palm sugar and grated coconut flesh.

It was lots of fun. Jonno and Georgia are now quite the experts at chopping their ingredients finely and pounding them to a paste using a mortar and pestle. We all enjoyed our dinner very much.