Monday, March 25, 2013

The Cambodian Night Market

March 22, 2013

Today was the last day of the conference and our last day in Cambodia, so we needed to catch any other filming and finish the episode.  The morning was uneventful for both Matt and I and for Prakti.  They had some final meetings with people they needed to catch up with and we had an episode to finish.

We decided to grab a quick lunch over at the restaurant where we had done our laundry the day before.  We had some delicious tea, pineapple fried rice and beefsteak with steamed rice.  It ran us whopping $3.38 bill.  Big spenders.

We finished up the edit in the afternoon and showed Minh and Mouhsine who enjoyed it.  They headed off to find some cheap massages and meet some stove people for dinner, so we decided to have another attempt at the night market.  I had researched it more and found that it only ran on Friday and Saturday nights.

We left the hotel around 8pm very hungry.  It’s not a terrible walk from our hotel, so since we were low on cash and didn’t want to pull more out, we opted out of the tuk-tuk for the exercise and to save the $8 roundtrip.  We came upon the busy night market on the food end which was fortuitous given how ravenous we were.  (Fortuitous for the cooks…)

There were carts lined up in a giant square with grass mats laid out in the middle where people were sitting on the ground eating their dinners.  The outside of the giant square was littered with shoes that people had removed to enter the dining area.  Matt and I made one round through all of the carts to check out our options.  There were kabobs of mystery meat shaped and colored like angry birds, there were full-body cooked pigeons, noodles, rice, fish and squid.  We decided on a vendor and they gave us a basket to load up.  We chose a pigeon, some wantons, and a deep fried drumstick with pork fried noodles.  They dump the contents of our basket on a BBQ and reheated the contents.  Remembering we had a flight the next morning, we reconsidered for a moment, then decided to go for it.  We got two cokes and opted for a cup instead of a bag, threw off our shoes and dug in to our loot on one of the mats.

Had this been the first place we had been on this trip, I think I would have taken photos and been bright-eyed and excited and weirded out by eating on the ground and by the pigeon’s scrawny little head watching me chomp down on its body, but after a couple months of so many experiences, it’s going to take a lot more than that to phase me.

It was a happy atmosphere with many families and young people, and after dinner we decided to check out what they had for sale in the other side of the market.  There was live music going on down the street, and rows and rows of clothes, purses and scarves.  These were not handicrafts, like I had expected them to be, but they were beautiful and cheap, so Matt and I got a couple t-shirts and some scarves as souvenirs.

We were thirsty by the end of our shopping and wanted to get rid of our couple dollars worth of riels, so we found a street vendor outside the shopping area to buy some sour sop juice and a beer.  The little eight year old running the stand gave us a great deal and it cost us the equivalent of 75-cents for the two beverages.  The man sleeping in the chair next to the place must have been in charge, but we figured it would be better not to bother him and just finish our transaction with the child.  We gave him our funds and walked away wondering if he even worked for the guy.  If you haven’t tried sour sop, I’d highly recommend it.  Pretty tasty.

We walked back to the hotel knowing that we needed to get up early to pack and prepare for our long, long, long travel day to get to South Africa.