Spider man…

YES, it’s big, it’s hairy, it’s venomous and it’s very much alive.

A jungle tarantula (I’m guessing they are farmed en masse), for sale at a roadside market on Cambodia’s newly-built, China funded, national highway between Kampong Chhnang and Siem Reap.

It is soon to be tossed onto a frying pan with garlic, chilli and oil, to become someone’s snack.

Thanks, but I’ve already eaten this morning…

A Cambodian jungle tarantula.

A Cambodian jungle tarantula.

A Cambodian jungle tarantula.

Above: “Hurry up and take the bloody picture!” Below: Pan fried tarantulas, scorpions, cicadas, silk worms, and other crawlies I couldn’t identify but I’m sure are nutritious – the breakfast of champions … if you’re Cambodian, that is.

rps20160102_153106

Reflecting on Cambodia’s killing fields

THE little girl stares at the tree in front of her. It looks wet and sticky and black. She tries not to sob, but she misses Mummy, and Daddy, and her toys. And the little boy she plays with next door. Why can’t she go home? Why won’t this angry woman look at her?

(The big, fat man dressed in black grabs the little girl by her ankles, and starts to swing her.)

She is frightened … confused … everything is a blur …

The Killing Tree. Little children and babies were swung against it, to kill them. The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, just outside of Phnom Penh.

The Killing Tree. Little children and babies were swung against it, to kill them. The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, just outside of Phnom Penh.

Skulls from some of the victims at the Killing Field at Choeung Ek, outside of Phnom Penh.

Skulls from some of the victims at the Killing Field at Choeung Ek, outside of Phnom Penh.

Clothing and bones belonging to victims continuously surface as rain washes away the dirt. The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, just outside of Phnom Penh.

Clothing and bones belonging to victims continuously surface as rain washes away the dirt. The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, just outside of Phnom Penh.

Visitors don't realise they are stepping on clothing and bones from victims, as rain washes away dirt on the walking paths. The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, just outside of Phnom Penh.

Visitors don’t realise they are stepping on clothing and bones from victims, as rain washes away dirt on the walking paths. The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, just outside of Phnom Penh.

Examples of weapons used by the Khmer Rouge executioners. They did not want to use valuable ammunition. The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, just outside of Phnom Penh.

Examples of weapons used by the Khmer Rouge executioners. They did not want to use valuable ammunition. The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, just outside of Phnom Penh.

More bones of victims are unearthed every year. The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, just outside of Phnom Penh.

More bones of victims are unearthed every year. This is a collection of unattributed bones from the 1980 excavation of the site. The Killing Field at Choeung Ek, just outside of Phnom Penh.

About 20,000 mass graves have been discovered across Cambodia, from the four-year rule by the Khmer Rouge (1975-1979). Of a then population of 10 million, between 2 million and 3 million were killed, at least half by execution and the remainder by starvation and disease… some for opposing the communist regime, but most simply because they were educated.

This is a very sad, but I believe essential, day trip on the APT Mekong River Cruise.

 

One little dead mouse can ruin the best Sofitel dinner

And then one of the diners made the gruesome discovery: “Hey, there’s a dead mouse here!” Sure enough, only half a metre from the dining table, between a large vase and the Tastes of Asia cooking station, was a very much deceased mouse

No ratatouille for this mouse

No ratatouille for this mouse in the Sofitel Angkor’s Citadel Restaurant

USUALLY, your choice of rodent is kept alive until the moment of cooking or, at the very least, until the point of sale.

This is Cambodia, and the lack of refrigeration in this part of the world often necessitates that meat products (animals) arrive at the kitchen in the condition nature intended: breathing and conscious.

Of course, lack of refrigeration is not a concern at the 5-star Hotel Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort, which has brought the finest of French hospitality to the jungle of Siem Reap, in Cambodia. Here, rat is not on the menu, though a nice ratatouille might be…
Continue reading