Two Glorious Meals in Cambodia

After a couple spectacular days in Taiwan, we were welcomed to our hotel in Cambodia, RAFFLES le ROYAL, with iced ginger tea and the friendliest smiles. Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia, and we are staying here for four days.

Our hotel room, on the third floor, is clean, spacious, and quite luxurious. We quickly unpacked our suitcases, which didn’t take very long since the three of us packed three small carry-on luggages.

We headed downstairs, to the hotel restaurant, for lunch. I didn’t have much for breakfast, aside from a peanut butter and chocolate chip LARABAR that I’d packed for the plane ride, so I was very excited about diving into a feast here in Cambodia.

Dad enjoyed the garlicky baked snails and lemongrass beef skewers. They came with small kai-lan vegetables and rice. My grandfather loved his poached ocean salmon, which was served with fresh vegetables and a leek cream sauce. For myself, I didn’t hesitate to order the creamy cauliflower soup for an appetizer, and the mushroom risotto for my main.

My entrée of mushroom risotto was hearty, incredibly rich and cheesy with a decadent Parmesan flavour, and was served with a freshly-grilled slice of focaccia slathered with pesto. I absolutely loved it and would return to this hotel restaurant in a heartbeat.

Dessert was actually a buffet, and I managed to keep my sweet tooth reined in by grabbing just two desserts – a chocolate mousse cake and a slice of kabocha pumpkin with custard.

Afterwards, Dad and I did some exploration. We walked for about a block in the sweltering heat before coming back to the hotel. It was seriously H-O-T, especially after so long in ice-cold Canada. Toronto, in fact, broke a 58 year-old temperature record for it’s -40 degree temperature today.

The pool at our hotel is lovely. I felt so happy dipping my toes into the water, wishing I’d packed a bathing suit.

Dad and I wandered the corridors and balconies, enjoying all the new sights and smells and sounds. We chatted a lot, and before we knew it, wandered back to our hotel room to rest.

For dinner, the three of us hopped onto a tuktuk. According to Wikipedia:

The auto rickshaw is a common form of urban transport, both as a vehicle for hire and for private use, in many countries around the world, especially those with tropical or subtropical climates, including many developing countries. Most have three wheels and do not tilt. An exception is in Cambodia, where two different types of vehicles are called tuk-tuks, one of which (also known as a remorque) has four wheels and is composed of a motorcycle (which leans) and trailer (which does not).

I truly loved the night view in Phnom Penh, especially with all the Christmassy lights and decorations.

Dinner was enjoyed at Malis, a modern, fashionable, trendy, yet traditional restaurant in the heart of Phnom Penh. They serve delicious Cambodian cuisine and are renowned for its fresh seasonal produce, delicate flavours, and wonderful servers.

The three of us ate:

  • Kampot Rock Crab Red Curry: Hand-picked Kampot crab cooked in a natural fully-flavoured crab broth with red chilies, red curry spices and coconut milk, served with rice
  • Bamboo Shoots and Smoked Fish Soup: A smoky and refreshing vegetable soup made from an age-old Cambodian recipe in which finely sliced bamboo shoots are cooked with baby corn
  • Wok-fried Eggplants: Roasted aubergine wok-fried with fresh garlic and a shallot vinegar sauce
  • Fish Amok: This traditional dish is made with goby fish fillets marinated in a lemongrass curry paste and steamed in a banana leaf basket

We couldn’t miss dessert.

  • Durian Delight: Taro style dumplings cooked in coconut milk and ginger sauce with Num Ko corn and durian ice cream
  • Malis Mousse: Jasmine flower infused mousse with hints of Cambodian honey and ginger, circled with fresh seasonal fruits and served with a crunchy rice ‘Kamao Thort’ and coconut ice cream

We were more than full, happy, and satisfied with the meal and the generous servers. In the end, the meal came down to less than $60 USD for the three of us, and we were all stuffed. We hitched the same tuktuk to go back to the hotel.

It’s now 10:20 PM here, and I think I am going to start planning tomorrow’s schedule. Dad vetoed my protests to visit the Tuol Seng Prison and the Killing Fields, as well as the Genocide Museum (boo) but will most likely approve my other suggestions.

These are some of the places that I can’t wait to visit in Phnom Penh:

  • Central Market
  • Wat Phnom
  • Sisowath Quay
  • Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda
  • National Museum

Thank you for reading today, and I can’t wait to update with more.

Curdy Soy Milk, Live Octopi, and Taro Ice Cream

Kicked off yesterday morning with an early-early-early morning walk through Taipei. You can see the Taipei 101 peeking out from behind these buildings. I love taking selfies with Grandpa!

For breakfast, we went to a place that sells shao bing (sesame flatbreads), you tiao (oily Chinese donuts, or crullers), and dan bing (egg pancakes). This place is incredibly popular, incredibly busy, and we were incredibly jet-lagged, so we arrived early to beat the line. I liked dipping my Chinese donut into the sweet soy milk, but I also tried Grandpa’s savoury hot soy milk, which was very curdy and loaded with green onions, sesame oil, and soy sauce.

Afterwards, we visited a temple/funeral home to pray.

I really like the metro, or the MRT, in Taipei. Compared to the subway/skytrain systems of Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, the MRT of Taipei is very clean, organized, and systematic. We headed to Wen Nai Nai’s house (Grandma Wen). She is Grandpa’s friend, and they’ve known each other for over four decades.

For lunch, we dined with my great-aunts at a seafood restaurant, where I ate way too many deep-fried oysters and way too much pork noodles. So delicious and 100% worth the potential stomachache, but I think I avoided it 😉 There were even live, wriggling octopi for sale!

We shopped the market at Tamsui, and bought a few things, from Taiwanese iron eggs to sticky blob toys.

I also had a delicious, massive taro ice cream cone!

We hung out with Dad, Grandpa, my grandmother’s second sister, and my grandmother’s sixth sister. We visited my grandmother’s third sister and her husband in their apartment near Tamsui. Their apartment is stunning, and I’m a big fan of the giant windows.

Finally, we were off to Cambodia. It was a 3ish-hour flight from Taipei, and I loved arriving in Phnom Penh. It was hot, humid, and absolutely amazing. The rest of my day in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, was exciting, though restful, and I can’t wait to show you more photos tomorrow.

Thank you for reading!

First Day in Taiwan

Good morning? Afternoon? I’m not sure what time it is over in Canada, but I’m writing this from a hotel in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, and it is currently 6:00 PM. And why am I writing instead of exploring? Dad and Grandpa are both sound asleep. 😴

Note to self: next time, do not travel with an overprotective, hyper-vigilant father and a 90 year-old grandfather unless you want to spend valuable daylight hours of “exploring time”, bored in the hotel room 😉

Anyways – I decided that, instead of cancelling activities or forcing myself to wake up early in order to blog, that I’d just post whenever I got the chance. Initially, I wanted to post Travel Journal entries daily, but quickly realized that would be quite a challenging feat. Hope this quick post is good!

Vancouver to Taiwan

Relaxing at YVR before the 12-hour flight.

Taipei

Arriving at TPE, the airport in Taiwan (about an hour from Taipei). Our taxi driver gave us some persimmons. Sunrise happened at about 6:30 AM, and these are some observations I made:

  • everyone wore masks to guard against the pollution
  • it was lovely to see so many Taiwanese people like myself and my family members (well, duh, we’re in Taipei, but it was interesting because most of the Asians in my area of BC are from China or Hong Kong)
  • bathrooms didn’t have toilets, but rather the traditional Chinese “hole in the ground”
  • mountains, compared to Canada, are flatter and undulate less
  • Taiwan smells just like how I remembered it – like a combination of stale cigarettes, sewage, incense, and boiled tea eggs
  • there are so many motorcycles and tall, worn buildings
  • crosswalks permit up to 80+ seconds for people to cross the street
  • many colourful billboards and banners, promoting brands like Canon, Nikon, and HuaWei, that reminded me of Kathmandu

Our hotel is called the Taipei Hero House, and many veterans live here. Dad accidentally made a $10 CAD phone call, which was pretty funny.

For breakfast, we ate at the Taipei Hero House, where I had bean curd, yellow melon, chopped radish, and tea eggs.

In the 7-11 in our hotel, there are some pretty unique drinks and snacks, like this bag of strawberry Lays.

Exploring Taipei – it’s about 20+ degrees during the day. I like the bakeries and colourful street vendors.

Subway passes and time at the bank (the most boring three hours of my life!).

Lunch at a beef noodle soup restaurant, where I had spicy beef intestines, crispy fried shrimp balls (huge, but really tasty!), tiny pork wontons in sweet and spicy sauce, tofu noodles, seaweed, and, of course, beef noodles in soup.

For dessert I had these tasty filled waffles from a street vendor. One was filled with taro, the other red bean. I liked the taro one more.

That was pretty much it for our first day, before I fell asleep at 4:30 PM 🙂