I had the enjoyment of spending a few days this past week with friends (Jesse, Ritchie, Duncan, Steve, newly friended Eric and a few Scottish gals whose names I unfortunately don’t remember) and family (mom and Rachel) in Siem Reap. Full of relaxation, naps, entertainment, loads of good food, and several Indiana Jones-like tuk tuk rides: it was a weekend away to be remembered.
We stayed at the very price-friendly Villa Medamrei, a quick jaunt from Pub Street and that night ate at the mouthwatering Khmer resto Touich after a strong recommendation from a local friend (I’m a big advocate for the Tiger Prawns and pork ribs…succulent and savory) then enjoyed several cocktails at Asana, dubbed “The last wooden house in the middle of Siem Reap“. Sitting atop kapok filled cement bags, we shared our obsessive compulsive disorders, things that make us tick, and our pet peeves while sipping ginger mojitos in a lofty wooden building with an extra dose of charm and phenomenal company.
While nursing a slight hangover the next day, the ever generous Steve treated us ladies to a sigh inducing 90 minute massages at Luck Nuvo where the lovely manager Keiko greeted us. We then snacked at Charlie’s for a bit of rugby (or some sport, whatever it was on the screen that Ritchie’s eyes were glued to) and extremely and surprisingly appetizing nachos and quesadillas along with typical bar fare. A few hours of naps and television later, we made our way to Phare, the Cambodian circus. While I had been to a different show in Phnom Penh at the Beeline Arena, this performance was absolutely fantastic. The artists trapezed, flipped, jumped, gyrated, and pounced as if gravity didn’t apply to them and that fire, if in contact with their skin, would have no effect. I highly, highly recommend visiting wherever the troupe is performing-especially in Siem Reap (the little tent is great, even though it’s quite hot)- and to look into the incredible things the organization and school is doing for arts in Cambodia, and as their About section reads
“Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS), which means “the brightness of art,” is a cultural organisation in Battambang, Cambodia, that offers young people a way out of poverty by training them to become professional artists and performers.”
(I’ll post photos when Jesse sends them-they’re sure to wow)
After the dramatic, lively, and exciting experience of Phare, our group made its way to L’Osteria– a small Italian restaurant tucked away in a side street, away from the thumping bass of the clubs, the teetering heels, and abundant flow of gag inducing travelers pants. The owner (also named Steve) was extremely pleasant, helpful, and generous and the food was an overall hit. Whether dining on the cannoli, lasagna, or the “Big Italian” starter dish- all left satisfied, full, and more than happy.
Moving on to The Yellow Sub for whiskey was about the last thing I wanted to do with a full belly, but in the end I was extremely pleased we did. The space is absurdly fun, decorated with hundreds of pieces of Beatles memorabilia that would excite any fan and also offers a wide variety of cocktails, whiskeys, and apparently-one of the best burgers in town. If I have a reason to go back to Siem Reap any time soon, it will be for that burger. Jesse continued to practice his Scottish accent and with enough method, may get there in time- because as they say, “smae scot is better than nae scot”. Or something like that. The night ended with my mom sliding down the banister from the rooftop bar, roars of laughter from some of my favorite boys, and a quick walk back to the hotel.
It was a rare experience to be roving a place that I now call home with a friend from my old home along with family from both Cambodia AND Washington. It will be a time not forgotten and I hope many more will follow with as much delectable food, laughter, and gusto as this past time.